It was the first night of the last summer festival in Western Canada, and as people eagerly left their freshly assembled campsites and headed toward The Beach Stage, you could see people with nervous knees speed walking in a frenzy toward the dance floor to be the first to lay down their deadly moves. Some people, so excited, lost all dignity and ran right past the stage and onto the sand giggling and doing cartwheels in the dark disappearing toward the shore. FozzyFest had instantly transported us all to a place we spend half our lives searching for, a place where the freshest funk, house, hip-hop, drum and bass, trapbass and even jazz is around every corner.
It’s been ten years since the festival began as a 50-person birthday party in Kananaskis, and it’s grown from a group of friends and a few local DJs to 1,150 attendees large, at arguably the dopest spot for a festival: Lake Koocanusa, BC. Adam Bradley who has been involved from day one pointed out, “We went from one stage and booking local guys, to DJs from Vancouver and Toronto and now we’re international. We got Kid Panel from Budapest this year.”
Somehow, this festival has managed to free itself from the musical obedience and school-teacher like rules present at similar events where DJs and stages are assigned certain genres, fires are banned, and you don’t fit in unless you’re wearing furry boots and short-shorts. The organizers are more focused on the music than on some so-called experience. “We try not to cater too much to certain sounds.” said Darryl Stanat, one of the main organizers, “In the heart of the night, people want to get bumpin.”
FozzyFest is about music quality, not quantity, and that’s apparent through the performers they bring in and the people that attend. The performers were often a direct extension and mirror of the attendees, as if someone could walk on the stage, start in on the decks, and reverse roles.
While slamming a few shooters with Pete Wilde, a four-year resident DJ and Calgary local, he talked about his methodology, “I go to the stage about 20-30 minutes before the set and choose the first two or three songs depending on the crowd.” He played two strange and marvelous sets, obviously tailored for the party heads present, and was hanging at the festival all weekend.
Saturday afternoon, between naked people streaking, dogs chasing disco ball reflections in the dirt, and star wars inspired street art paintings nailed to trees, you’d find the hip-hop showcase at the Forest stage. A crowd of about 75 people gathered to hear the monstrous beats from world-renowned beat boxer Ken Bishop, also known as Ominous, joined by singer Miss Fudge, electronic producer Mr. Precise, and Lyricist Mic Starnik. They had just come from Quebec City’s Envol & Macadam Festival where they opened for Sublime and had some advice for festival goers: Bring positive vibes, be respectful of the environment, and enjoy the sunshine. Words to party by from this unnamed group who recently opened for Dub FX.
That evening, as people were putting on their day-glow paint and getting ready for the last night, I sat on the sand with Bobby C Sound TV, 13-year DJ veteran from Denver, who was cool as shit about the fact Air Canada had lost his mixer. He’s well practiced and shared some great insight into where EDM is going and where it’s been. “You could talk for a few days about how EDM music has changed. When I started in music you got studio time and mastered it. Now, there are 20 new artists a day and 16-year-old kids making polished music at home. There is so much good music coming out and the production quality is amazing. Most music now has elements of electronic music in it. It’s good and bad, like music has always been. EDM might have to do some damage control though because ‘mainstreamification’ is definitely coming. EDM is destroying itself as it enters the mainstream. It’s a mess, but a cool mess.”
That night Bad Company, Felonious Funk, Mego Beats, and some unknown techno DJ at the renegade Crystal Cave stage, also gave unbelievable performances that made me question whether I had peed my pants a little or the music was just that good. But Bobby C Sound TV played to the biggest crowd that weekend and killed it. “I really want to deliver the goods now you know,” he said, “make it worth their while, make it worth their money.” A ticket at the gate will run you $240 and $0 for locals. FozzyFest returns next year in the same location in September, hopefully at the same price and with some heaters on the dance floor.