Coverage: Roger Coppola
Photography: Roger Coppola
The quiet suburban outskirts of Orange County welcomed a rambunctious group of art and music lovers this past April as the gates of Oak Canyon Park opened to host the 3rd Boogaloo Festival. Tucked away in Santiago Canyon, its welcoming grounds included plenty of grass, shaded oak trees, and even a walking bridge over the centerpiece pond. Attendees strolled the park in search of the perfect space to lay down a blanket, crack a fresh beverage, and cheers to the weekend at hand. Animal-inspired art cars were dressed to impress, daunting shimmering fabric gowns and minimally clothed dancers. World-class sound systems rattled their cages as artists turned up the volume and kept the party going late into the clear spring nights.
Charlie the Unicorn parked overlooking the placid pond spilling rainbows and glitter across the land. The double decker art car featured the premier debut of UK-based Traction’s (UK) Raptor sound system. The Raptor system is designed to produce louder sound with longer throw in an environmentally friendly way, gopher-friendly bass? Regardless, the beats were bumping as the veteran house music curators hit the decks. Public Works’ (SF) resident DJ Rachel Torro warmed up the afternoon with minimal, deep-tech sounds. Christian Martin and Worthy shared the spotlight for a b2b house set filling in the gaps with signature Dirtybird chirps, dark low-end undertones, and breaks on breaks. J. Phlip also turned up the BPM, exploring up-tempo drumbeat loops. She is known to be adventurous with her music selection. When not on stage, you can often find her scavenging Portland’s local, well-stocked record stores for the next sound. Lately, she’s been diving in deep and her sets are evolving an older style that is seemingly lost in today’s house scene.
ATTENTION: BREAKBEATS ARE BACK (or have they never left?)
Breakbeat house swept the country in the mid-1990s and is now becoming a staple once again. The recognizable rhythms could be heard throughout the weekend and the crowds loved it. The West Coast Funky Breaks legend, DJ Dan, demonstrated that the old is the new. He has been playing Breaks since before many of us were born and his timeless sounds proved his experience. Breakbeat is the inevitable progression [or regression] of the current electronic underground scene as its timeless appeal is an always-welcomed escape from the going sound. Nonetheless, the Boogaloo tone was kept eclectic and listeners could find just about any genre their hearts desired.
The Mountain stage served up talented live acts filling the air with RnB, Funky Soul, and Reggae rhythms. Boogaloo’s headlining DJs may have drawn the crowds, however the live acts proved their place with top-notch performances. House of Vibe set the tone as hip-hop, rock, and soul converged on stage. The Lions’ kept it groovy with fresh takes on vintage reggae sounds. Orgone’s fiery singer, Adroyon de León, held a commanding presence on stage as the 8-piece LA-based band delivered heavy, raw, adrenaline-fueled funk and sweat-dripping soul. The Mountain stage was appropriately closed out but the famous Karl Denison’s Tiny Universe. The touring juggernaut regularly performs over 150 shows annually and his extensive experience shines through as he orchestrates a beautiful journey through his universe of funk and jazz.
The main Boogaloo stage featured the Dirty Beetles art car. This larger than life insect glistened as the sun reflected brilliant green colors off its veiled exterior. A DJ booth sat tucked inside its abdomen facing a crowd filled with performers on stilts, aerial silks, and attendees getting lost in art, conversation, and of course the music. Tropkillaz made their way from Brazil to turn up the heat with an 808 heavy Trap set that rattled the Earth and had people stomping up the dust. Other low-end, high-tempo highlights included the always groovy Funk Hunters and Stylust Beats.
The Boogaloo Sunday Barbecue brought attendees together for a party in the park. Made to order BBQ sandwiches, fresh lemonade, and sunny afternoon sets by the likes of The Golden Pony, Jason Bentley, and Crazy P Sound System. Straight out of Brooklyn, The Golden Pony are out to make a name for themselves as they remix our favorite classics with a distinct poolside vibe. Be on the lookout for this up and coming duo! The mastermind behind KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” maintained his reputation as Jason Bentley kept the crowd engaged through unique selections and professional mixing. The festival’s final act was a memorial set for the recently lost Pumpkin, Nicholas Alvarado. His dear friend and collaborator (EVeryman) along with Nick’s family including his father and mother were there to remember the beloved DJ, son, and friend to all as the community came together to celebrate the life of one who will be truly missed and remembered eternally.
All in all, Boogaloo brought the art cars, the music, and the vibes. The festival is young, but more than promising as it contains the necessary pillars of a great event - a beautiful venue, understated world-class artists, and a community that makes you feel at home amongst strangers.