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[Festival Review] Northern Nights Music Festival | Paradise Found Among the Redwoods

Northern Nights was incredible, and everyone including myself were blown away by the execution and atmosphere at this 2nd year Northern California Festival. Usually at a typical music festival, I end up halfway through the weekend longing for the basic comforts of life as I trudge my way through an endless expanse of blistering sunshine and sprawling campsites; denying myself of basic human needs in order to quench my thirst for live music. While I do actually enjoy this lifestyle, and am all for this kind of experience being prevalent in the festivals I go to, Northern Nights was a welcome and needed change from the sort of environment I normally find myself in at festivals.

 From the moment I pulled up to the gate, I was flabbergasted by the sheer beauty in the forests surrounding us and the perfect weather conditions that washed my travel weary body of all stress, putting my mind into an entirely different mode: being incredibly stoked. After a quick and painless entrance we went and set up our camp underneath the high canopy of the Redwood grove, which had been planted by the Cook’s Valley Campground property owner decades earlier. The shade alone was enough to sell me on the campground, and it was also dripping with an endless supply of good energy and a distinctively friendly west coast vibe as I heard the sounds of some groovy tech house music coming from a sound system further into the grove.

With no time to lose, I started off my weekend with a dip in the river, which was tastefully scattered with floaties and friendly faces.  A perfect way to cool off after hauling my camp gear in, and the perfect w ay to warm up for a night of shameless ass-shaking to some of California’s premier underground electronic music. After drying off, I headed to the main stage to check out the fresh, sub-heavy, ultra-creative bass music of Bay Area native Nasty Nasty. His glitched out melodies, dirty subs and generally ‘nasty’ sound got my body moving and the rest of the dance floor warmed up for a night of mayhem. As the sun hung low in the sky, the crowd at the main stage quickly grew to prepare for House music legends Justin and Christian Martin, who would each be playing a set. The two were on either end of dope sets from Australian disco house artist Plastic Plates and Zion I, San Francisco’s Conscious Hip Hop OGs. The artful mix of the dopest tech house music on the planet with the always raging hip hop party that is Zion I, was an ideal way to kick off the weekend, and the good energy in the crowd between friends and strangers alike put me in my happy place, a mindset I’d joyfully keep for the rest of the weekend.

The Riverside Bar
Pumpkin performing at the River Stage

The atmosphere on Saturday gave festival goers a perfect opportunity to recuperate and get some sun in order to prepare for another night of mayhem. Saturday had us hitting the ground running with a list of things to immerse ourselves into, including everything from yoga in the Redwoods, extended lounges in giant floaties on the river, and tasty hibiscus beers from the Riverside Bar. An upbeat and dope set from up and coming hip-hop artist Lafa Taylorgave us all a much needed energy boost and brought in serious ass shaking from the crowd.  The River stage hit its peak in energy later that afternoon when west coast favorite Pumpkin took the stage, which set the perfect soundscape to the breezy weather and sense of community which proliferated the river shoreline. After Pumpkin, we headed to grab some free IPA’s at the VIP happy hour before heading to catch the last bit of Two Fresh‘s set at the Main Stage. It was nice to get 2 sets of quality electro-hip hop throughout Saturday, as from there the night only managed to get even more hyped up and weirder (only in the best ways possible, of course). The Floozies absolutely crushed on Saturday night, and were undoubtedly my favorite set of the weekend. Ive been seeing these guys for a few years now, and every time I do the brotherly duo get funkier, tighter and more hard hitting, to the point where their extra-terrestrially-fun-dance party makes me feel like I’m being blasted at warp speed into the funkiest corners of the galaxy. If you like to dance and haven’t made it out to see the Floozies yet — you’re missing out.

The night continued to flow nicely after the Floozies with tropical disco kingpin Viceroy, followed by the always fun and exotic Beats Antique to close out the night. After the main stage closed, the majority of festie heads went straight to the generously sized and well done Silent Disco, which provided the best Silent Disco experience Ive ever had and managed to keep the more ‘determined’ partiers satisfied well until sunrise.

Sunday, we spent most of the day recording our last footage, talking to festival goers and jiving to the Tormenta Tropical Takeover, which lasted over 3 hours, and left me with a nice tan and fresh, tropical, disco playing through my head for the rest of the day.

Jon Horvath (left) and Steve Raskin (right) of Fort Knox Five performing at the Main Stage

Sunday Night, the main stage was definitely on par with the previous 2 nights, offering its own eclectic breed of EDM to close out the weekend. CYM favorites Fort Knox Five started out my night with a dynamic genre melding set of bass heavy, hard hitting remixes and originals, all executed with a well calculated and flowing DJ set.

The last 2 sets of the weekend definitely closed it out right. Giraffage took the stage and wasted no time in showcasing his uncanny ability to make incredibly dope remixes of nostalgic pop songs, dropping nostalgic tracks such as The Cranberries “Dreams,” to a pitched down, hard hitting version of Miley Cyrus’ “Party In the USA,” and more favorites from the 90’s and beyond.

I had been waiting all weekend to see Odesza, and when they came on I’m pretty sure I saw the crowd get more hyphed up than I had all weekend. The duo is currently one of the most promising and unique acts on the scene, and I had been waiting to see them for over a year. Needless to say, they blew me and everyone at Northern Nights out of the water with their mesmerizing performance. I also had the pleasure of interviewing them after their set, which you can find here.

The River Stage

Northern Nights was one of the most incredible, idillic music festival weekends I’ve ever experienced. Considering it’s only it’s second year, I urge all of you to make the effort to make it out to the next one. The first few years of a festival are always a unique time, and considering Northern Nights is in such a special location it’d be advantageous to hop on this train now. Party in the Redwoods 2015, hope to see all of you out there!

(Then there’s this guy. He did a great job as well.)


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