There is something special about a festival on the verge. It is something that hasn’t yet been spoiled by big crowds, long lines, or corporate greed. A festival that is affordable, with great acts, and lots of space. With staff and crew that take the time to enjoy their favorite artists, while still making the whole thing go. Where everybody, including the police officers, are just happy to be there. It feels like everyone is in on a big secret.
The third annual Same Same But Different Festival went off without a hitch. The headliners included CloZee, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Big Gigantic, and Boombox. The essence was very bass heavy, with complements of live instruments including clarinets, mandolins, and saxophones. This really adds spice and life to the performances. There were harmonicas, trumpets, and violins all set to the sound of throbbing low frequencies.
The festival setting was an ideal location on a desert lake in Southern California. Lake Perris has beaches interspersed with trees, and campsites allowable all the way up to the waterfront. Large mountains of crumbling stone rise up across the blue shores. It is easily one of the most beautiful locations imaginable for a venue to camp and dance. And because the festival is on the smaller side (less than four thousand people), there was always room to breathe.
This festival has been praised by its attendees as “niche” and “vibey”. And because it has been run so well the last three years, it has caught the attention of some of the larger festival purveyors, and vendors who want to make it bigger (and hopefully better.) There is this treasured “gem” feeling that the festival hopes to keep as it expands.
Getting in to the venue was easy enough. There is a main access road via Lake Perris State Park that allows festival goers to park in ‘upfront’ or ‘slightly remote’ Parking. The slightly remote meant you had to walk about a quarter mile along a lake path to get to the main area. Although the temperatures were hot, you were allowed to bring a wagon, and the festival also provided shuttles if you didn’t feel like carrying your belongings.
Same Same But Different had four stages. The large main ‘Same’ stage ran parallel to the beach complete with a state of the art lighting and sound system, as well as a school bus that was converted into a giant rave tree that you could climb up and enjoy the show from. The second ‘Different’ stage was a little smaller and had alternating acts while the main stage would reset for its next headliner. There was also a ‘But Jungle’ stage which held surf rock, reggae, and jam styles for those seeking a break from the electro. And let’s not forget the ‘Coconut Club’ stage which ran right down to the water. This stage was great for late nights, as well as the middle of the day when the ‘Floatopia’ went down.
If this festival had a signature, it would be the Floatopia. Some four thousand festival attendees splashed and danced away on structures and personal floats in the water. It was a mob zoo of giant peacock floaties, brightly colored inner tubes, and massive disco ball rafts. Up on the beach, people were dancing with crew members hosing them down like hot horses. All in an effort to keep cool as the temperatures climbed above 100 degrees during the day. Sunscreen, sheer clothing, and water were the name of the game. Clothing optional beyond this point.
Hydration stations were strategically placed at high traffic points all over the park grounds to ensure safety. The med tent only had one reported hospitalization from what appeared to be heat exhaustion. She has been found to be stable and is back with her boyfriend. Some of the local park police and lifeguards had found that some people drifted too far from the beaches and some even fell asleep on their floats in the middle of the day. As a precaution, the festival made the decision to suspend swimming after dark. Makes sense.
When the sun went down, the temperatures settled to an ideal 70 degrees. This allowed for a wide range of flashing festival styles, and made for a cooler atmosphere to boogie down. Artists crawled out of the woodwork, with painters holding space in the pits, fire dancers working the edges of the crowds, and photographers snapping candids of the dancers.
There were ample food and shopping options to sample between sets. From fruit smoothies, to poke bowls, to artisanal pizza. One could even buy things like ice, chapstick, and other essentials from the general store at the park.
Same Same But Different also featured a variety of wellness talks and spiritual classes as well. There was yoga, acro-yoga, Ayurveda, sound baths, and discussions and open forums on women’s empowerment, sacred geometry, and many other topics.
The festival also had a ‘shakedown’ with vendors purveying all sorts of styles from leathers to feathers to sweaters. This particular author got a sheer kimono robe in snow leopard print to wear with some blue nebula jammers.
As with any good festival, eventually Sunday does arrive. And packing up the final morning was bittersweet. Sharing breakfast with the tent neighbors, giving hugs to the support staff, and taking that last dip in the desert lake that kept us cool all weekend.
EDMTunes and this author would like to take a moment to thank everyone involved in making a great weekend. It was a pleasure to be a part of it, and hope to see more of you there next year!