Travelling from Eastern Washington, AudioHammock had quite the trip ahead of us, but since we'd already been there once before we knew what to expect. What The Festival is our generation's best kept secret - or so we thought.
What The Festival was attended by AudioHammock founder Russ Bashaw and co-founder Anthony Saia. Below you will find a recap of their two days at the festival, a photo gallery, and their ocassional personal thoughts. Non-watermark photos are available for free upon request from firstname.lastname@example.org
What The Festival is blossoming, evident by the fact that the event has grown in size by 2/3, and officially sold out completely this year. Attendance rose from 3500 to almost 6000 including media and vendors. The artists, though not necessarily recognizable by the ill-informed proved to be creatively diverse, ranging from the standard trap music faire to the multi-talented and faceted instrumental groups, all backed by the famed Funktion One speaker systems. Stacked over 10 feet high, the PAs provided deep tones were rich throughout the weekend. The Funktion One systems lived up to their name, showing versatility with thick, soul shaking bass.
The ranch itself, for the uninitiated (you should probably change that), is a sprawling 250-acre campus of clear cut and forest complete with breathtaking views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. A fantastic music and arts festival on private property, What The Festival remains well clear of the commonplace problems that plague mainstream festivals; trash, corporate sponsorship blitzkrieging, and inflated pricing for goods and services rendered. The result is a weekend of bliss off the grid, yet on an enchanted path.
Boasting the nation's largest above ground pool stage, the Splash Stage is the place to be from mid morning to early evening each day of the festival. Artists such as Gladkill, Snakehips, Jpod, Lane 8, and Thomas Jack were just a few of the excellent DJs that took to the waves this year. The pool was cool and grooves were hot as all manners of inflatable wildlife and persistent festival goers mingled from the warm afternoon into the cool evening. With Cabanas and Kombucha offerings a half step behind you the Splash Stage is easily one of the best draws of What The Festival.
Anthony: We arrived and got camp set up just in time to catch Boris Gladkikh, a.k.a. Gladkill, an artist the we featured on our WTF Preview Podcast. Russ and I gave him high praise with the track "To Make A Cyborg," an ode to his favorite anime Ghost in the Shell, and he did not disappoint. As he worked through his set Gladkill's tunes worked like a siren's song as more and more people flocked to the Splash Stage. You can grab all of Gladkill's tunes via his Bandcamp page with the "name your own price" option.
Russ: The Splash Stage is just such a relaxing place to be. Everyone is friendly and down to clown and high fives are frequent. It's hard to pick a favorite artist over the duration of the entire weekend but Gladkill is definitely near the top.
Wave Racer and Snakehips closed out the Splash Stage Friday night. The latter, a UK duo hyped the masses with their simultaneous production attack, causing the crowd to shake their hips to the thick bass coming from the Funktion Ones.
As nightfall approached festival goers were given two high octane beats per minute options; the gifted brothers Nicholls, known as Two Fresh or the talented and musically diverse trio of Keys N Krates.
Anthony: More hip hop was pulling me in as I traversed the field to see Two Fresh. The twins worked the crowd for all they were worth, Sherwyn spitting lyrics while Kendrick laid down the beats. The crowd lost it as they spun "Gettin Throwed" which is available via free download on their Soundcloud page. This set by the duo would be the start of the raucous energy exuding from the Effin' Stage all weekend long.
Russ: I checked out Two Fresh for as long as I could but ultimately I had to see Keys N Krates. A tight fusion of hip hop and electronic + an awesome live drummer (Adam Tune) had the crowd in a medieval uproar for a solid hour and fifteen minutes
After Two Fresh's set, it was extremely difficult to leave the Effin' Stage as EPROM took over. The transition between the two was flawless, with EPROM throwing down early with no signs of letting up. Sherwyn of Two Fresh joined EPROM from time to time to hype up the crowd as EPROM drew out the now infamous neon Krakens to the stage, who are known to be attracted to the thickest beats. His set was so insane that even Joey, the stage manager, was throwing up his hands giving props. Hailing from Portland, EPROM doesn't disappoint his fans, making all of his music available for free download via his Soundcloud page.
The final DJ to take the Effin' stage Friday was the masked Mad Decent madman UZ. Following Two Fresh and EPROM seemed like it would be a daunting task, but UZ, a self-proclaimed trap lord not only brought thick, soul shaking drops, but deep, grimy bass hits that blew the crowd away. The crowd lost their minds and the Kraken stuck around giving their praise as the drops were relentless. For those interested, UZ's tunes are available for free download on his Soundcloud page.
A recent podcast feature, GRiZ, took the Main Stage as the last headlining performer of Friday night. Providing a mixed bag of new and old and rocking his saxophone skills, GRiZ commanded the audience who knew that they were all there to see him. Sporting dual computers for mixing, it was difficult to capture GRiZ in action, but this didn't stop us from hearing tunes from his newest record Say It Loud as well as tunes from his previous records Rebel Era and Mad Liberation. As we covered before, GRiZ is a giver, not only pleasing the crowd at Wolf Run Ranch, but also by making all of his tunes available for free download on his website.
Russ: My favorite performer of the weekend, I was hesitant to see how much he could do with his saxophone but his remixes were poignant and his diverse setlist that featured samples of disco and oldies were transitioned so well that it's easy to see why GRiZ is on top of the electronic pyramid.
While other festivals are winding down, What The Festival is just hitting its stride. At midnight a walk through the Illuminated Forest is the place to be. Essentially a half-mile loop, the Illuminated Forest is an easy going trail full of art exhibits, interactive music stations, glass blowing vendors, and the of course, the Dragon Stage.
What The Festival boasts a myriad of daytime activities. Classes and workshops ranging from Yoga, Meditation, Breakdancing, Twerking, Capoiera, Hoop, and more were available throughout the weekend for those looking to exercise body and mind. If you were in need of more relaxation you could always head to the Oasis Spa for a massage or to the Casbah Hookah Lounge to smoke and stroke social graces. Daytime isn't downtime at What the Festival!
Saturday was a hot afternoon but as with Friday people knew where to be and arrived in a hurry. With a solid hour a piece from Vinnie the Squid, Tyler Tastemaker, and JPOD, Saturday kicked off day two's tunes in style.
Anthony: JPOD is a serious remix master, He threw down remixes of tunes that got the entire crowd singing along. Wearing his signature cape, the beat chef served up some mighty tunes, spinning some classic remixes that filled the Splash Stage to capacity.
Russ: After a morning of Yoga the Splash Stage was exactly what was needed. Holy f*ck Tyler Tastemaker was "NBA Jam" on fire. This one will be immortalized.
Machinedrum Vapor City Live was arguably the biggest attraction of the night. Now based in Berlin, Travis Stewart along with drumming madman and cohort Lane Barrington brought Stewart's Vapor City to life on Saturday. Omnipresent looping guitar from a sweet red Gibson guitar and fat, triggered drum beats led the way. The visuals were also off the chain as Stewart and Co. employed visuals akin to the work done by Dominic Flannigan and Eclair Fifi. Stewart, whose been making tunes for the better part of two decades also through out some footwork tunes as a tribute to the late, great DJ Rashad
Building off the energy from the previous night, the Effin' Stage saw Parisian producer Stwo going hard. In fact, Stwo stirred up the crowd so much Crowd Management Services had to stand next to the right side of the stage to make sure the barrier wasn't pushed over. Stwo commanded the crowd, and despite his calm demeanor slayed the crowd with his newest remix of Kehlani's "Runnin'" available on his Soundcloud page.
With the crowd nice and warmed up from Stwo's set, it was time for LA based producer TOKiMONSTA to stand up at the decks on the Effin' Stage. She's small, but provides BIG sound, causing the crowd to lose their minds even more. In fact, she pushed the Funktion One system so hard that the sound technician checked all the cabinets to make sure the drivers hadn't gone out. Alongside her penchant for dropping thick, bass heavy tunes, the lighting effects used by the lighting technician provided a myriad of visuals that everyone appreciated, sober or otherwise.
Every evening (or morning depending on how you look at it), from 12 a.m. - 4 a.m. the middle of the ranch between the Effin' Stage and the Main Stage transformed into the quietest goodtime you've ever had. With two-channel wireless headphones and 2 DJs commandeering, the silent disco at What The Festival is a place to connect in the most intimate of ways. A place where dancing, body language, and single tone color reigns supreme.
Festival runners worked hard to formulate the newest addition this year: The Dragon Stage. Nestled deep in the woods half way through the path of the Illuminated Forest, this impressive stage rose out of the woods with the DJ's booth perched atop the dragon's back in a makeshift pagoda. The highlight had to be late Saturday night from as Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation put on one of the best sets of the entire weekend.
What The Festival was downright amazing, the experience this year was 300% better than the last - and we had a killer time in 2014.
The diversity in the music and the professionalism of all the staff was great, not to mention the food. If there is any take away from the festival this year it's that the artists, the sound systems, the friends that we make, and Dump City Dumplings are what are going to keep us coming back each year.
How was Sunday? Unfortunately the AudioHammock team will never know as the real world beckoned (work). Why don't you tell us? Email us at email@example.com and let us know how your festival experience was. In the meantime look through the AudioHammock WTF photo gallery and see if you can find yourself having fun.
Who did you see at What The Festival? Let us know! Non-watermark photos are available for free upon request from firstname.lastname@example.org