Better than: Going on an all night bender of Red Bull and Dance Dance Revolution at the neighborhood arcade
After its long-time hiatus, the legendary Juju Beats Festival swarmed the lawn of Oak Canyon Ranch in Orange. The party stretched until after 3 am, with freaky beats, bouncing bodies and insatiable neon party animals.
Our sorely missed music editor Dave Segal mentioned in his last column at the Weekly that OC hadn’t satisfied his taste for Techno and “fucked up sounds”, and he’s probably right. But had he stayed in town a little longer I’m sure he would have been salivating over the prospect of 4 stages flashing behind the turn table wizardry of beatsmiths like DJ Dan, The Glitch Mob and Jason Blakemore. Not to mention the 68 acre sprawl filled with lakes and trees tucked behind a maze of canyons and dark roads.
Unlike most inner city raves, Juju Beats didn’t even wait for the sun to set, as cars charged through the dusty makeshift parking lot around 4 p.m. As I darted down Santiago Canyon, a flash back of Coachella came over me as waves of beat up old Hondas packed with kids rocking pink rimmed glasses and Mad Hatter lids passed me on the highway.
By the time I shuffled into the front gates, the festival was kicking on all cylinders as I walked to the “Bumble Bee Love Swarm” Stage to catch a set by dynamic duo Jeno and Garth. Right away, I was glued to the blazing lights and cartoon foam plants that seemed to sprout in front of the turntables. Before I knew it, I was absorbed into the hypnotic dance party in the center of the crowd. But if there’s one mistake you could’ve made last night at Juju Beats (besides taking E from some creep posted next to the barbeque sandwich trailer) it was staying in one place for too long.
Each stage was spread out to let each stage throw it’s own party simultaneously while wanderers like me batted back and forth discovering new sounds. One stage where I definitely felt some raw underground energy was the Drum’n’Bass tent that hosted the maniacal styles of London’s own Crissy Criss and Kenny Ken, who kicked a non stop flurry of Jungle and Grime behind an avalanche for tongue twisting toasters and emcees. The bass rumbled so low that snapping pictures next to the stage almost cost me my hearing.
But if you felt like spinning your glow sticks to something less harsh, the Butterfly Oasis Stage was the place to get your fix of fairies, fire and flesh. DJ Dan was definitely the biggest crowd pleaser of the night, besides the endless circuit of half naked hotties shaking it cabaret style on the towers mounted at every corner of the stage. I also got discover a new favorite in Jason Blackmore. Though house and techno were never really my main musical obsessions, I’ve got to admit that I pretty much abandoned my responsibilities as a reporter” during his set in favor of rocking out.
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As a newcomer to the rave scene, Juju Beats gave me a whole new respect for the neon party life. And although I you won’t see me sucking a glittery pacifier, covering my arms in Tall Mouse arts and crafts, or dancing in leg warmers any time soon, I’ll definitely by in line the next time this “musical and visual orgasm” rolls into town.
Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: I'm a fan of any party where half naked girls playing with fire are present.
Random Detail: I came to the rave with white shoes...I left with green shoes.
By the Way: Hope everyone had a good time.