WHAT IS WHAT THE!? MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL?
What the F*** is What The Festival? This transformational gathering has acquired quite the hype since its debut in 2012, and we can totally understand why.
||Who The Fest: A large population of colorful and nomadic West Coast transformational festival attendees with an emphasis on Oregon natives. 18+ only.
||What the Fest: Described as “the millennial generation’s Woodstock” by NBC News Entertainment, this festival has garnered a lot of attention amongst the transformational scene. Although fairly new in comparison to other popular festivals like Symbiosis Gathering which is turning 12 this year, or the 13-year-old Lightning in a Bottle, it’s production quality represents that of these more “mature” gatherings. WTF boasts high quality audio by Funktion-1 sound systems (basically the king of sound systems), an incredible diverse lineup with talented big-name headliners, and 7 beautifully built stages, while still retaining the intimacy of smaller festivals, capping their attendance at around 5,000 attendees. If you’ve ever been to Lightning in a Bottle, that’s nearly 20,000 less people getting in your way and so much more room to dance!
||Why the Fest: Their mission statement? – “We want to move your bodies, senses, and souls. We want you to leave feeling connected and to be inspired from your full immersion into art, music, and community.” Simple. WTF is the premier adult playground or grown-up summer camp, allowing us to reconnect to the blissful days of our youth together.
||When the Fest: WTF takes place June 16th-19th, when the weather is all sunshine and fine in northern Oregon. Tickets are still available at http://whatthefestival.com/
||Where the Fest: On the edge of the picturesque Mount Hood National Forest at Wolf Run Ranch. A little under 2-hour drive east of Portland.
Nicholas Johnson, writing for the Willamette Week, described WTF as “a cross between Burning Man art rave, big-tent bacchanal, Las Vegas pool party and intimate, Pickathon-style campout… attracting both bass-chasing college kids and serious electronica aficionados.” And why would we not want to dive right into that explosion of fantastic?
What the Fest’s magic lies in its professional production quality, 8 beautifully unique stages, legendary lineup, and interactive/immersive nooks and crannies, all the while staying intimate enough for you to enjoy all the above without being overwhelmed by messy crowds. You might think that this is unusual, and you’d be right. Most festivals have to gain a certain size before they can provide the quality programming and visual beauty that WTF offers. Located in the lush landscape of Dufur, Oregon overlooked by the towering Mt. Hood, this ‘transformational’ and eco-conscious event takes place during the weekend of June 16th to the 19th, 2017.
We know that most festivals start with a vision to create something magical to share, and WTF was no different. Founders Glen and Tiffany Boyd started the festival years after selling the web analytics company (Web Trends) they had founded in the early 2000’s. Seeing an opportunity for an art focused, quirky musical festival in the Pacific Northwest, and having experience running a themed camp at Burning Man for several years, a core team was formed that included Peter Clark and Keely Montgomery. In its inaugural year, WTF was held in the White River Canyon just outside of Tygh Valley, but for 2013, organizers bought Wolf Run Ranch, about 20 miles away, for its permanent home.
And now we can all enjoy this carnivalesque summer camp they have created! I guarantee it will be hard to find the kinds of stages that you will experience at WTF anywhere else. While there is the epic Main Stage that features a stunning view of Mt. Hood in the background, the other stages are like dreams come true: immersive experiences that will draw you in and take you on a journey. When you find yourself burning up from the summer sun during the day, the Splash Pool will provide the perfect escape for you to get wet and weird to a thumping musical set. Seriously – the dance floor is a wading pool. The Groove Cube is like nothing you have ever seen before. This stage and dance floor are surrounded by walls of color-changing cubes, submerging you in light and sound, yielding an immersive dance experience that is certain to take you on a voyage. The Dragon Stage is truly that, a lit-up dragon roaring it’s presence over the dancefloor like a 3D Lord of the Rings flashback. Shinto A Go-Go is an intimate Asian-Cowboy tea party experience that boasts live world music and eclectic performance arts. The Effin Stage and Equinox Stage both provide their own unique essence to the festival with artfully coordinated light shows and stage production. When the Main Stage goes silent for the night, you can dance under the largest disco ball in the Northwest at Silent Disco. There’s no room to be bored!
Who will be making the magic happen at all these stages, you may ask? WTF’s carefully curated lineup has something for every ear. Headlining this year is ZHU, Cut Copy, Gramatik, among others. This lineup consists of a variety of genres from the So-Cal house beats of the Desert Hearts collective, to the blissful sounds of Giraffage and Big Wild, the deep hip-hop beats of Claude Vonstroke’s side project (under his real name) Barclay Crenshaw, ambient psychedelia of Ott, to straight bangers from artists like NastyNasty and Lafa Taylor.
There are all sorts of fun little places to hang out if you need a break from the dance floor. The Easy Speak provides an immense amount of highly informative and transformative lectures to chill out and learn from including How to Combat Doubt and Insecurity, Permaculture Education, Cacao Ceremonies, How To Give Less F***s, and more. We could all use a bit of that in our lives now, right? Woodlands Movement Classes, nestled in the surrounding national forest, provides a variety of workshops ranging from yoga, flow arts, and different dance styles. If you’re looking to just decompress with some friends or hang out and make some new ones, the Casbah Hookah Lounge is the place to be. Equipped with fancy furnishings and tea, this is definitely the designated zone to royally chill out. Decked out Cinema is the perfect place to have an epic cuddle puddle and watch independent films from around the world under the stars. The Illuminated Forest boasts a variety of impressive art galleries, sculptures, and interactive art installations that will surely melt your face and inspire creative energy within you.
WTF’s Marketplace consists of one-of-a-kind vendors that will be selling conscious clothing, toys, and other goods so go ahead and treat yourself! No need to worry about food either, there will be numerous food vendors selling healthy meals ranging from comfort food to ethnic dishes; there will be definitely something for whatever you’re craving. Find the full list of craft vendors here.
So basically, What the Festival has everything you could want and more, curated in an incredibly unique fashion to provide you with an original experience that you will definitely carry with you for the rest of your life, without all those crowds. There’s no way you can forget the stunning stages you’ll experience, the juicy sets you’ll be getting down to at those stages, the important lessons you’ll learn from Easy Speak and the Woodlands Movement Classes, or the memorable connections you’ll make at places like the hookah or tea lounge. WTF is more than an epic forest party, it’s a space to learn and grow, while reconnecting to the carefree essence of our youth. Best of all, tickets are still available! If you want to watch the magic unfold, follow their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or check out the lineup’s tunes on their Soundcloud.
This festival really wants us all to get away from the processed world that has become our reality and back to where we find our true happiness: in health, in nature, in positive meaning, learning valuable knowledge to move our lives in the direction that makes the most sense.
To get you in the mood, check out the Official What The? Festival 2016 video recap: https://youtu.be/cyrCS3Ea7ZU