Is there room in the crowded Southern California dance music scene for another major festival?
Between HARD, Electric Daisy, Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle and smaller new events like Splash House, CRSSD and Further Future, fans have never had more options to cut out for a weekend of big-room EDM, progressive house or poolside disco.
But the explosion of major new EDM events in L.A. isn't over yet.
After the megapromoter SFX Entertainment purchased ID&T, the Dutch company behind the enormously successful Tommorowland festival in Belgium, they're collaborating on their first major festival in Southern California.
Scheduled for Sept. 25-26, the inaugural One Tribe will be held at the Lake Perris Recreation Area, which is about an hour inland, equidistant from L.A. and San Diego. It's a collaboration with the old-guard rave promotion firm B3 Cande (organizers of popular '90s events like JuJuBeats and How Sweet It Is), which has returned to find that its brand of earnest tribal optimism and '90s-style acid house and techno are decidedly fashionable again.
Will it be enough to set them apart from the L.A. festivals and promoters that have used the last decade to build their brand in today's EDM scene?
"It's all part of the same community at the end of the day," said Brian Alper, one of B3's co-founders. "Not to be corny, but OneTribe really does mean something. We're appealing to a Burning Man vibe, but also to EDM fans. People will see the difference, but all those fans are our fans too."
While its ID&T peers like Tomorrowland can sell out of 360,000 tickets overnight, the first OneTribe is starting decidedly smaller at just 20,000 fans over two nights of camping and music. The fest hasn't announced headliners yet, but early indicators -- stages devoted to Damian Lazarus' Crosstown Rebels and Jamie Jones' Paradise labels along with a venue geared towards first-wave West Coast techno acts like Mark Farina, Doc Martin and DJ Dan -- point to a festival looking for a niche between the overtly "underground" pitch of a fest like CRSSD and the old-rave '90s revivalism that's been bubbling up at contemporary dance events in search of a more credible sense of history.
"We made an effort to depart from EDM and go more after the core side of the scene," said Brian Alper, B3's co-founder. "In the early days, it was about going on a journey, and now it's just about names, names, names. We actually made a decision to pull back a bit.
"We could have done 60,000 at this location, but realistically this made more sense," Alper said.
Modesty isn't a typical move for SFX, the concert promoter that went all-in on the American EDM wave of the late 2000s, investing in festivals such as Electric Zoo, clubs like LIV and the dance-music download portal Beatport.
But the collaboration on OneTribe is a bit of a restatement of purpose for all the teams involved.
Now that Live Nation snapped up shares of Insomniac and HARD, L.A. seemed on its way to becoming a company town as far as its dance music goes. B3 had a credible reputation among generations of L.A. dance fans (even if a car crash outside one of its early fests in the Angeles National Forest foreshadowed some of the controversy around the safety of raves).
SFX has had plans for Europe's ID&T to get a new original brand into the U.S. market (it's done smaller versions of its events Tomorrowland, Mysteryland and Sensation in the U.S.) and especially its epicenter in Southern California.
"ID&T is proud to launch a new, progressive crossover music festival on the West Coast," said ID&T creative director Jeroen Jansen in a statement. "One Tribe is the first home-grown U.S. festival and will be our first event ever to premiere on American soil."
It's hard yet to tell if the combination of B3's established reputation, ID&T's production prowess and the mix of crunchy yoga/wellness/camping appeal and more outsider dance acts will find a home in an already saturated scene. But as young fans age out of big-tent EDM, they will be looking for new sounds and festival experiences, and that potential is still very much in play.
"Kids get into dance music for whatever reason, and eventually they want sounds they can listen to all day long. If you're at EDC you feel like you're always running between stages," said B3's Brett Ballou. "2008 was the boom, but kids are searching for something today, and they want other things."
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