The Santa Cruz Music Festival concludes another year of magic, music, and memories. The music was great, especially if you got there early. The new additions were quite the upgrade from previous years. And the vibes were absolutely perfect despite the usual (and expected) backend chaos.
San Lorenzo Park was one of my favorite new additions to the festival especially considering the gorgeous weather we had. It was home to the Bounce Stage and majority of the House Music over the course of the weekend (fun fact: this was the the SAME Bounce Stage I saw at Serenity Gathering 2018, LOL. WHAT. A. COINCIDENCE.) but seeing how I like House, I hung out here most of the day. As you can see:
As much as I enjoyed the scenery, there were a few things about the park that caught me off guard. For one, the 21 and over wristbands included drink five tickets – not indicating free drinks – but that you only got five drinks in total. I was so confused. The drink tickets, only attached by perforated plastic, fell off my wrist within minutes of walking away from the security table that was checking IDs. The wristband clearly said “void if removed” so I thought, “no problem, I’m not a big drinker anyway.” I didn’t see a trash can so I shoved the voided drink tickets into my pocket.
Later, someone told me that the drink tickets fell off everyone and so many people complained that security asked people to remove the drink tickets and put them in a pocket so that they wouldn’t fall off (*eye roll*). I asked the woman putting on wristbands AND the security guard next to the bar if this was true and they were both clueless, but, low and behold, I stood in line for a drink and my detached ticket worked! It was unclear is the drink tickets were expected to be used solely at San Lorenzo Park or if it was for the entire festival, and despite asking several workers, that was something I had to find out myself after leaving the park on the first day. Turns out, the other venues had no support of such tickets.
My advice to SCMF: if you want to implement new rules, it’s really important to have all the staff, workers, and grounds people on the same page about logistics like these. Some of us strive to follow the rules and lead by example, but if no one knows them, it’s really hard to do. I realize this new drink ticket thing was an effort to promote safety, but I spent about an hour walking around and asking workers things that I had to figure out myself.
To make up for this jaunt, VIP wristbands got free drinks at the park so, despite all the wondering and wandering, those who had VIP were seemingly unbothered by the lack of information on the five-drink rule.
Another new feature the festival added was the afterparties both nights at Paradox. The music was great and the sound quality in the ballroom was impeccable. People seemed to enjoy themselves – I know I did, but locals complained about the headliners performing at the afterparties. I overheard a woman say “I’m from here, why would I pay so much to see an artist from Santa Cruz when they were just performing here for free a few months ago?” That’s something I never thought about but could agree with. I bet more and more people would have purchased the complete VIP package if the names on the afterparty lineup were more “mainstream,” but hey, you can’t please everyone and I personally enjoy the intimacy of local, underground, or independent artists.
Overall, I made some great memories with great people. On the backend of things, the new Media Lounge was cool, quirky, and conveniently located. People who do this often expect (to an extent) to be sent in all directions on the first day just to find where to check in and get wristbands so this was smooth compared to other festivals and previous years. The Desert Hearts lineup on Sunday was enough to convince me to go to City Hearts next month. My friends that performed at various venues on Saturday and Sunday killed it. And, I reached my step count tenfold. 10/10 will return next year.