While it can feel like Southern California is oversaturated with festivals, there is always room to add one that tries something new.
The unique element that Skyline Festival brought to the newly reopened L.A. State Historic Park, is its compact size and single stage. This was incredibly refreshing to festival attendees who are tired of trekking across (what feels like) an endless desert to get from stage to stage, or to find the bathrooms – especially because it was clear that the age range of attendees was about 26-33. All seemed to be seasoned festival goers who now consider themselves too old to sprint across vast festival grounds to catch a set. They’ve been there, done that, and are happier now to be comfortable and hydrated while watching a show. There were more people wearing Snapchat spectacles and drinking coconuts than wearing fanny packs and downing beers.
At 3pm it was 89 degrees and people were just starting to wander around and get the vibe. This sporadic and heat-weary crowd did not deter our fearless DJ, Jason Bentley, who brought the stragglers over to the sun drenched stage like the Pied Piper of cool music that he is. The rest of the day’s lineup would play out like a Jason Bentley fever dream and we were all a part of it.
Jason gave way to the day’s first artist, Elohim. With her dark hair covering her face, it seemed as if her smoothly distorted vocals appeared out of nowhere and layered seamlessly over groovy beats – which brought the remaining sun-shy attendees out of the shade to dance. Her music sounds like the hip-hop album Purity Ring never released, and her mysterious persona was intriguing and beautiful, like if BANKS ever put out any kind of fun vibe.
Michl took over the stage next, and his XX and James Blake-like sound gently lowered most people down to a sitting position to fully absorb his set. Any people standing and trying to dance kind of looked like they were in the Matrix or moving in slow motion. Most of the crowd loaded up on drinks, sat down, tuned in, and chilled out.
The next artist, Eden, continued the trend of smooth vocals and dope beats, but the drops felt deeper and the vocals rawer. It was as if Snow Patrol was going through a dubstep phase. He had some issues with his in-ears, but he apologized profusely to the crowd and soldiered on anyway with his one man show of vocals, guitar, and beats. His stunning rendition of “Billie Jean” was a highlight of the day.
Lido starts off his set by telling everyone that he’s not going to talk a lot, and then launches into a speech about just feeling things tonight – ok! He’s another impressive instrumentalist – who can sing and drum simultaneously – but his sound is a bit aggressive and sporadic. The crowd is into it and his remix of Portugal. The Man’s new single “Feel It Still” is a pleaser, but that may just be because that song is dope. Very questionable frequent use of the n-word in his last song that made a few people around visibly uncomfortable.
Miike Snow exploded onto the stage with rock band prescence. The sun had set, the temperature was perfect, and the crowd (which had swelled to massive size) was ready to party. Duke Dumont may be closing the festival, but Miike Snow felt like the band everyone came to see. When they launched into the chorus of “Heart is Full”, kicking over mic stands and jumping off drum kits, the crowd rocked for their LIVES. After a hot day of dreamy electro, it felt like a real rock n roll set from a solid headliner.
However…the moment the first notes came out of the speaker for Duke Dumont’s set and the screens flashed his name…the crowd screamed. Miike Snow had revved the up, and now they were ready to DANCE DANCE DANCE. With his intricate visuals and unrelenting house, Duke brought the rave everyone craved. Within minutes, people had busted out light up glasses, pool noodles, and a giant blow up banana. Everyone may be older now, too old to rough it at a huge fest, too old to be out until 3am…but this crowd was in their early twenties when Swedish House Mafia and the wave of EDM hit the airwaves. They remember what it’s like to wear sunglasses at night and dance for your life…fittingly right in the exact same park. Duke and the Skyline Festival organizers brought it back – and made everyone there feel 23 again.
Words by Courtney Phillips
Photos by Stephanie Varela Rheingold