Same Same But Different Festival, familiarly ‘SSBD’, kicked off their second year in flying forum on September 20th, 2019! Even before entering the gates, crowds were pulling up to the site and the energy that transcended down from the Lake Perris campgrounds was already unmatched. All of the parking attendants were jamming on ukuleles, drinking cold ones and smiling ear to ear to welcome patrons in for a magical weekend. Beach babes spun around in the sand as they set up camp and great music was blaring through every car speaker, as if to say, “Same Same, we’re ready for you!!!” This overarching mood of family, friends, art, music and greatness hugged itself over the site like a giant blanket.
Rushing out of the RV on Friday, we were full of giggles, White Claws and sunscreen. Skipping down to the gates to grab passes was a breeze and the big mountain that sits in the middle of the lake was the perfect backdrop to Aviator Stash’s beachy first set of the weekend! The installations were also perfectly placed to add a natural pop of color and, when it got dark, the SSBD welcome archway illuminated with a projection that followed your movement as you danced underneath! ABSOLUTELY AMAZING TECHNOLOGY! The music stayed kicking all day long, with funky fresh sets from The Mustache Family Band, Fashion Jackson and many more as we hit the golden hour. Watching the sunset with the silhouettes of aerialists twirling in the foreground and the lake behind them, I took a moment to really relish in this atmosphere, catch my breath and prepare for a nighttime bop with Turkuaz, Elektric Voodoo and the big get down, BAAUER — who brought the hype and led us into the after hours! MDRN HSTRY brought their all to the campground But Stage for the late show; sadly, I couldn’t catch the entire set because sleep was a necessity after happy hippying all day and a full day tomorrow. That said, while asleep, the dance party lived on in my head as my dog and I had one glorious MDRN HSTRY dreamland mosh!
Everything looked effortless, like it all grew naturally in this cute little festival commune.
Vibes this special are created in the minor details: the candles in the trees that illuminated designs on the sand and the hand-painted signs like “Seer-usss-ly NOT an entrance”. Everything looked effortless, like it all grew naturally in this cute little festival commune. I loved how tents were decorated; you almost couldn’t tell what was placed around by production crew versus what attendees had created around.
Festival co-founder Brad Sweet and I sat down Saturday morning briefly, just by coincidence, and had a chat that really warmed my heart. “Wow look at this! This is what I wanted it to be about, putting the space and the instruments there. The people created this energy that flows around it. We’re all artists. We’re all musicians. We all have something to bring here. And, now that it’s here, it’s the beach party I’ve always dreamed of,” he said. That’s the thing about this fest: festival management are all hanging out with the people, never too busy to share a short heart-to-heart.
A giant felt tree bus had made its way to SSBD from Burning Man this year, posing as the best lookout spot to see everything going on at once. Not to mention, you felt like a real adventurer up there! From its peak, you could see the lights of stages, the hula hoopers, the poi and a million other LED tricks and treasures festygoers were wielding. It was beautiful seeing dozens of painters set up throughout the day, creating new work inspired by the mood of Same Same But Different. Attendees were also so creative in their outfits and alter egos everyday. Another little touch that was brought by the attendees that seemed to act as the cherry on top of a site that was already designed so perfectly. For instance, there was a shoe salesmen on the beach, a farmer supplying corn to those in need of a quick dance floor snack and a postman bringing stamps to those relaxing in hammocks, which — side note — were everywhere for cat naps!!
Most everyone treated himself or herself to a drink in a coconut, because c’est la vie was the vibe. When the living is this easy, the young at heart can go wild… which is exactly what everyone did! The after hours But Stage and Coconut Club popped off till 4:45am, with no shortage of booty shakin’ till the break of dawn… literally!
Saturday kicked off with the same levels of happiness, but, at 9am, there was an overall, “I need a stretch” murmur passing through the tents. Luckily, we had a beautiful yoga session to prepare for another full day of making art, friends and busting moves! Mimi Zulu kicked off the day with some classy, soulful sounds after yoga. By that time, the float party on the lake had popped off and there was even a floating hammock island!!! Also, if you preferred, you can use a slice of pizza, a donut or a peacock to keep yourself rockin’ along in the water. The Moves Collective, Cofresi, Boostive and EXMAG brought so much brass and bass to our little island spot, my feet were on fire (in a REALLY good way)!
By the time Capyac took the stage, all of Same Same But Different was well on their way to ecstasy and Capyac sent us all the way to the stars! It was electric, trippy and full of good banter between everyone. “GIIDDDYYY UPP BOIS, WE’RE GOING TO SPACE MOUNTAIN!” I screamed, as I readied myself for the headliners. And, that is exactly where we stayed because Beats Antique sent us spiraling through time and space in a beautiful, bass heavy, eclectic way. It was like being transported into a super tricked out music box; it was cinematic and mesmerizing, a real treat for anyone. Even if you’ve seen Beats 100 times, this was something special. And, again, it didn’t stop with the headliner, as the But Stage made sure there would be no one left wanting more after three fire after hour sets, one including the powerful and thought-provoking, AJ Froman (featuring JJ, who literally plays the eight-string canvas with a paintbrush, creating unreal pieces while the musicians do their thing!).
SSBD is truly a festival put on by a community of creators for other creators to step into a space of free-flowing arts and movement…
I woke up Sunday thinking, “Okay, SSBD is my happy place. It’s all about ‘live and let live’: create, inspire, grow and nourish yourself and others.” A friend I made the night before ended up needing a lift back home and, of course, it was on my way! Just one last instance of the SSBD family village falling into place… a campground wholesome and bubbling with quality heads, an easy recipe for creating one kickass weekend with surreal folks.
SSBD is truly a festival put on by a community of creators for other creators to step into a space of free-flowing arts and movement, surrounded by others like ourselves and on a site that inspires and facilitates us with the means to make amazing things as a crowd! I can’t wait to see how this festival grows and evolves; the magic potion has been mixed and it’s all crystals, rainbows and bear hugs from here on out.
Photography by Kristy Rose