Words: Tabitha Neudorf & Chelsea Burka
Last weekend, while hundreds of thousands were gathering in Las Vegas for EDC, we took the road less traveled (literally) and made the pilgrimage with 5,000 others to a remote campsite two hours outside of Portland, Oregon for WTFestival.
Even from our first moments driving the windy dusty roads to Wolf Run Ranch, wondering when the landscape changed so suddenly from green and overcast Portland, to yellow desert hills and purple snow capped mountains, we realized we had no idea what we were in for.
This was an entirely different journey than EDC, which we attended last year. We traded in our neon clothes for parachute pants and sweaters, hotel rooms for tents, and our comfort zone for an experience certainly outside of it. But that’s all part of what made WTF so great.
A weekend of amazing music, beautiful scenery and new experiences… With a whole load of WTF!? moments along the way, here’s our list of the GOOD and the WTF:
The music: This should be a given, but in the midst of massively commercialized, production driven EDM-festivals, it was nice to be reminded that the root music festivals should predominantly be focused on is that. The lineup lent for both music appreciation and discovery – Griz played one of the best sets we’ve seen this year at Friday night’s main stage, while long-standing Vegas funkateers (who we’ve never heard of before now) Fort Knox Five delivered such a sick performance at 2am in the middle of the Illuminated Forest it was hard to even consider sleeping afterwards. Thomas Jack’s pool party was another source of pure musical refreshment as DJs such as Justin Martin, Anna Lunoe and Justin Jay gave campers a chance to splash around at the pool stage.
The art: Many festivals nowadays are incorporating art installations into their festival experience, but the art at WTF was truly art for art’s sake. You could tell it was an event made by artists, for artists. From the talented and unique vendors of handmade clothing, jewelry and leather goods numerous art installations in the forbidden forest, the creativity extended far beyond music.
Freedom of artistic expression: This was a place where everyone was a master of their craft, from poi to hooping. Even the costumes….there was an element of impressive time, dedication and consideration that went into everyone’s presence.
The classes: In addition to the many stages, there were hours of classes you could take. From dance, to hooping, to yoga and meditation, as well as dedicated tables to arts and crafts, it felt just as much like summer camp as it did a music festival.
Dust: We ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We thought we were getting a tan, but it was dirt. We brought bandanas but what we really needed were human Brita filters by the end of it! Showers were not a common thing at WTF. They were available, but limited and charged $8 per use.
Something that made us think WTF during this festival was the way people interacted with their space and each other. We think it’s a festival that allows the freedom of expression whether that be recreational “activities,” art, conversation, clothing, or lack there of. Everything and everyone we came in contact with had their own expressive nature that was unlike any festival we’ve seen. It was almost like if you weren’t being weird, you were seen as weird.
To sit here and compare a festival like this to anything really would be a mistake. That’s what’s so enticing about it and convinced us to attend. At first we thought of it as a hybrid of Burning Man, Lightning In A Bottle with a splash of Shambhala. But that’s not doing WTFestival justice… It has its own identity and it’s in such early stages of existence, that it doesn’t know where it’s heading itself.
What’s so beautiful about this opportunity is that as they grow and evolve as a community their expressive nature will only get better, and they’re on the right track to becoming one of the most diverse and original festivals out there. From the unorganized camping layout to the rather relaxed security system, everything just seemed to work for them. They’ve really created something unique and I’m excited to see what this festival evolves into. Besides the amount of dust and lack of showers, and even though the only word we could use to describe the state of our bodies by Monday was “crusty,” we’ll definitely be making the trip back to Dufur again in the future.
While we were there we sat down with Keys N Krates to ask them about their favourite recent WTF moments:
David: Just this morning in the airport hotel, in my room, by the toilet they had a small black and white TV. I was like WTF? I put it on my Instagram I was so shocked. It was plugged in, on its own little table built in the wall, it was ready for me to watch it while you’re…in there. Funny enough, my caption for the photo was “Portland…WTF!”
Jr Flo: I really hate to bring this up again, but honestly the naked girl thing in Tampa. While we were playing, a naked fan girl jumped on stage and Jared our tour manager chased her around to get her off. She dove under my table, and jumped on my back. Jared peeled her off my back and carried her off stage like a baby. I still think about that and say WTF…
Adam: I honestly can’t top either of those, but the horseradish hummus I found on a table earlier made me think WTF…