You wouldn’t think just 15 minutes from a major freeway in California, Interstate 5, there would be a hidden oasis. Tucked away in a valley beside the foothills of Silverado, CA and adjacent to Irvine Lake lies Oak Canyon Park. The home for this year’s 2nd annual Woogie Weekend.
The ideal setting for a summer music festival.
Once you get to the festival grounds the scenery around you quickly changes. You are surrounded by lush vegetation. A circling of trees closes in a quite pristine grassland. There is a little lake that splits up the two separate stage areas. The Kaleidoscope stage was considered the bigger stage of the two and featured many of the live acts. The Hive was a littler bit smaller, but a powerful little brother with a Funktion-One sound system that ringed all the way through to the campgrounds.
The music servings were at the heart of this year’s Woogie Weekend. House legends and international techno savants displayed a magical array of talent.
What I loved about the offerings at this year’s Woogie was the intention and cultivation that went into booking and placing the lineups. In the day you had more relax and chill acts. Artists like Lauren Ritter, Oceanvs Orientalis, Lum, Joeski, and even Blond:ish stood out during the day. They all provided clean and constant blends of house and tech-house with smooth rhythms that were easy to move to. By nightfall you felt relieved. We all rejoiced in the fact we made it to this point. Then the real revelry began.
As I said, each day was chill but each night turned into something out of this world. Once Jonas Saalbach got on Friday night you knew the night meant change. Then Thyladomid took the dark sounds that Jonas started and progressively intertwined them into Extrawelt’s experimental set. By Saturday night we were all in need of some techno salvation. Heiko Laux and Oliver Huntemann each turned it up a notch in a way that would make any berlin techno head bow in amazement. Laux was hard and dark but Huntemann brought out that ethereal techno that has really been pulling at techno fans’ heart strings. Then Sunday rolls around and you really think at this point it can’t get any better than this, but the last 4 hours of Woogie Weekend were a sensational journey of sound. Sebastian Mullaert’s well crafted melodies wove a deep and melodic story that built up nicely into Mathew Jonshon. Johnson’s set was some of the craziest musicality I have ever witnessed. I can clearly say I have never heard anything quite like his set. The artistry oozed out of him as the live set showcased his musical genius. The technical equipment he brought would revival the complexity of any professional studio. With that said, the tech and crew, are the unsung heroes that deserve the most acknowledgement. With all of the live acts, transitions from one to the next were seamless well thought out and there was never a gap in sound. This is rarity at any festival let alone an electronic based one, so an applause is outstandingly due to those ladies and gentleman. There are others from throughout the weekend that should not go unnoticed. The after-hours crews held it down and brought outstanding lineups as well.
Special shout outs to Anton Tumas, and Favela Bar’s Patricio for also curating some of the after hours stages. Some of the sleeper sets of the weekend came from these after hours bookings, which included: Tara Brooks, Davi, Jon Charnis, and Lum. Also, world class legends like Doc Martin and Marques Wyatt treated crowds all the way until sunrise. Another special shout out goes out to the renegade camps.
The only official camp, RevoLounge, brought a full slate of music all weekend long inside a beautifully designed dome structure. The DangleZone crew out of San Diego also needs to be recognized as they were one of the only true renegade stages. On Saturday night they were able to get Taches to play an after hours set that was arguably better than his set from earlier that day.
Finally, we do have a few minor gripes. Out of all the weekend’s festivities our complaints are few, but there were a few subtle changes that did hamper the experience. Most noticeably, the changes to the stages and the campsite locations.
With regards to the stages, there was noticeable sound bleed. There were only two stages so you would hope by the second year they would have solved those issues. Also, the lack of aesthetics at the stages. The Do Lab who produces the event is known for bringing world-class artists and art installations but it seemed like both the design of the stages and the surrounding art installations (if any) were seriously lacking.
The new camping locations placed attendees in the parking lot. A parking lot is not a campsite. This is an odd and annoying decision because the grounds were tough, extremely rocky, and dusty. A lot of people had a difficult time just getting stakes into the ground because most of the surface was rock.
All in all, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. If you consider yourself even the slightest fan of House or Techno than Woogie Weekend is a sure shot, and should not to be missed. Between the music selections and grounds, this is now one of the premiere festivals in Southern California!
Words by Jordan Marrone
Photo Credit: Get Tiny Photography