Festival Review: Escape Halloween 2016

escape-halloweenYes, I know its December and no longer October, but Countdown NYE is just around the corner! So here is my review on Escape Psycho Circus to get you pumped and ready for Insomniac’s next event. Not only will I be providing you with my in depth experience while I attended this event, but some tips just in case you are new to the rave scene.

Escape is held at the NOS Event Center in San Bernardino, CA. This event is rising in popularity since it is the last Halloween musical festival in California. Due to the positive responses of the past year, Pasquale Rotella the CEO of Insomniac Events, decided to bring back the theme of Psycho Circus for their 2016 festival. For the very first time they created an actual haunted house, that I unfortunately did not get a chance to experience.

Insomniac cares about their guests more than what most would expect and so here is what I have learned about them from my experience. Insomniac allows their guests to dress up, but does have a dress code that prohibits cultural appropriation. In my opinion that is fantastic that they are taking the time to be activists as well! Insomniac is one of the few event organizers who have begun to allow organizations, who inform event goers or better known by the rave scene as headliners, about drug use and some even offer testing kits. They are not encouraging drug use, but are trying to prevent individuals from taking stuff that is not what they bought or from overdosing. Insomniac as well, offers other safety and wellness services such as medical tents, free hydration stations, and Group Control. Group Control is a team of individuals wearing purple shirts and fanny packs; they walk around making sure people are okay and hydrated. There is a strong stigma that you need to be on drugs in order to enjoy these events, and instead of creating more restrictions or cancelling the events all together; they provide services to help people. This is part of what is known as the PLUR culture which I will get into later.

The minute I stepped into Escape, I felt like I was in wonderland! There were hundreds of thousands of people dressed in costumes surrounded by bright colorful lights and a beautiful lake in the middle of the event. There were carnival games, rides, food, and even a Ferris wheel. There were actors everywhere dressed in costumes in regards to theme of Psycho Circus. Wherever you were people were smiling and even checking up on strangers who seemed to be lost or ill. That was the beauty of PLUR culture, which stands for peace, love, unity, and respect. At these events you let go of everything and just enjoy the music and people. People wear bracelets known as Kandi, and trade them at these events. There is a specific set of hand gestures in regards to the acronym PLUR and after completing it you each trade a bracelet, necklace, mask, or any piece of jewelry you crafted out of colorful beads.

The stages were massive and the crowds were so large that I am not even sure how I managed to make it to the front of the main stage when I saw the Chainsmokers and Hardwell. If you were standing near the front of the stage, you were able to capture the musician who seemed like a spec on the stage and the performers infront of you dancing in Halloween costumes. If you were towards the back you were able to enjoy the visuals from the lights and the hand crafted totem poles in the crowd. You as well could jump in on the shuffle circles that were always seen towards the back. There was honestly no bad spot to stand and enjoy the performances. The music would just consume you and if you took a moment to look around you within the crowd you could see the pure joy and peace on others faces. There was no sense of judgment at all and it was very cool to see individuals expressing themselves outside of the gender binary. By that I mean men were dressed in what society would consider feminine attire or vice versa for women and instead of being ridiculed EVERYONE embraced them! That day was probably the greatest day of my life and I wish I could relive it over and over. I was able to see Armin Van Buuren, Benny Benassi, Borgore, Boombox Cartel, the Chainsmokers, Eric Prydz, Hardwell, Jauz, Martin Solveig, Zomboy, and my favorite Tchami! Festivals are seen to the public as places where people go just to do drugs, but it is so much more than that. It is a place where you can be yourself, people are kind no matter what, and everyone there is attending for the same reasons as you! TO ENJOY THE MUSIC! I highly encourage attending one of these events. It is life changing.

Here are some tips I gathered from asking other headliners and my own knowledge:

-Stay Hydrated! I highly suggest buying a water backpack.
-Take breaks! It gets very hot within those crowds and it is a full two day event.
-Have a meet up spot just in case ya’ll split up. Phones typically don’t get service.
-Carry a fanny pack to put your phone, keys, and wallet in.
-Make kandi and get into the PLUR culture! Tell people it is your first time!
-Make new friends and enjoy the music!!

I hope you all enjoyed this review and these tips. Make sure to check out my review next fall because I will be attending EDC Las Vegas! Keep it PLUR!

Reviewed By Justin Torres

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Show Review: Soft Lions at The Maltese

soft-lionsOn November 18th Soft Lions made their way to Chico, Ca as the last stop of theirtour. Soft Lions is a trio from San Diego, Ca made up of Megan Liscomb (Vocals/Guitar), Ana Ramundo (Keyboard/back-up vocals), and Jon Bosner (Drums). With a sound that combines garage distortion, surf rock, and 60’s pop into what is self-described as “moody psychedelic post riot grrrl noise,” Soft Lions delivers a wall of noise and emotion that makes for an amazing live show that can’t be forgotten.

The venue was the Maltese a small bar in Chico, Ca that resembles the den of a vampire, but is yet oddly welcoming. This isn’t your average bar in a college town filled with students, young couples arguing, and binge drinking; instead you have a small bar situated near a neighborhood with a different crowd. Older people are much more present with a very small portion being college aged, making for a different atmosphere. It felt like the people at the Maltese were there for the music, and not just to be on their phone the whole time. As the opening act The Feisties started to end their set you started to see a group prowl near the stage. A small blue haired woman carrying a guitar case that was the same size as her, another woman with straight across bangs, and a bearded man in glasses confidently made their way to the stage. It was Soft Lions and what came next was an experience that can’t be forgotten.

The trio opened with “Free Way” the first track off of their new album XOXO and from the moment the first chord was struck by Liscomb the energy in the room changed. Liscomb started to command attention not only with her voice and unique guitar sounds, but with her mannerisms. Liscomb started to move as if she was one with the so metaphysical sound waves the trio were producing. From standing on the tips of her toes, stomping, and swaying she was giving physical expressions to not only the sounds being made but the lyrics of their songs. Behind the primarily in your face up tempo style that occasionally slows down are songs of frustration and vulnerability.

I walk for miles when there’s nowhere to go

I get so lonely I just can’t stay home

I can’t stand my thoughts

My thoughts are gray when the sky is blue

Gray in my bones straight through the goo

I can’t think my way up

This is from the song  “I Get Lost” which sonically resembles an upbeat pop song from the 60’s  with more distortion added. But the lyrics paint a different story of a person frustrated with their life but has someone to help them through.

That’s when I thank my lucky stars

That I love you and you love me

That’s when I thank my lucky stars

Those stars

A lot of their songs share these themes and it creates an interesting juxtaposition when combined with their sound. As the night went on and they started to play “Run in Dreams” Liscomb threw her beanie off to the side and entered into a mini-solo that brought the song to life. As magnetic as Liscomb may be she would be nothing without her fellow band mates. The band has no bassist and you don’t really notice since Ana Ramundo does a fantastic job on the keys. It creates the deeper and more bass heavy tone that the band needs. She is the backbone of the band and is highly present in every single one of their songs, never buried by the guitar and drums. Jon Bosner does a fantastic job on the drums creating a tempo and sound that not only exemplifies the other instruments, but also the lyrics of whatever song they are playing.

As their set drew to a close and Liscomb started to say her thanks the crowd called for “one more song.” After the band deliberated between themselves they came back and played two more songs to a roar of applause and cheering. Soft Lions not only won over the Chico crowd, but also seemed to have played their entire song list. After the show I had started a conversation with Liscomb. She told me that “it’s shows like these that help remind me why I play music…and because of people like you who keep on supporting music.” I ended buying some merch from them, which they were selling out of an old suitcase surrounded by blue Christmas lights. I bought a shirt and XOXO on vinyl, Liscomb even gave me small buttons which she drew herself. After a bit of conversation the band signed the album and we took a photo together. Once I started to leave the venue I realized that I had witnessed a show with so much charm, emotion, and energy that I could never forget it. Soft Lions are a band that have a sound that is unique and band members who are charming and great people. Hopefully they visit the Chico area again soon, because their live show is something to witness.

Reviewed by Carlos Rodriguez

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KCSC Internview: Jaclyn “DJ Jac Black” Blackwell


DJ Jaclyn “Jac Black” Blackwell and her friends, Kiana and Laura in the KCSC broadcasting booth.

Jaclyn “Dj Jac Black” Blackwell is a veteran of the KCSC DJ staff in her third semester slapping the filthiest EDM beats from the broadcast booth in the basement of the Bell Memorial Union. Since finding her passion in blending her love for music and broadcasting at Chico State and interning at KCSC, Jaclyn is now an employee at the local Chico country radio station “103.5 The Blaze” where she continues to forge her own path in the music broadcasting industry. KCSC.com sat down with the senior media arts major to talk about her weekly EDM show “Back at It” that airs every Wednesday night from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

KCSC: What type of music do you usually play on your show?

DJ Jac Black: “I play EDM music. I usually play the lighter EDM in the beginning and get to the heavy dubstep and trap towards the end of the night. Get people pumped up!”

KCSC: What’s your favorite thing about working at KCSC?

DJ Jac Black: “I like the freedom that we have on the show. I like how I can play my favorite music, I actually really like being on the music staff and reviewing new albums each week.”

KCSC: Awesome. So you work at 103.5 The Blaze now, can you talk a little bit about what you do there?

DJ Jac Black: “I will work at events, like the Taste of Chico. That was pretty fun. But, when I work at the station, I will do on-air work, like voice tracks for commercials. I update their website and do a lot of random stuff too. But, I really like doing the voice tracks because I was on the radio one day, and (my manager) said he might be able to get me a on-air segment for a little bit, which would be awesome.”


DJ Jac Black has been bumping EDM beats over the past three semesters of interning at KCSC Radio.

KCSC: Have you ever heard yourself on the radio yet?

DJ Jac Black: “Yeah, I get all my voice tracks sent (to me.) We always practice my different on-air radio voices, but when I’m at KCSC I just talk most of the time.”

KCSC: What are your favorite things about working in radio and broadcasting?

DJ Jac Black: “Just being around music. It’s just so exciting. During one of my shows last year I made a Facebook status telling people to listen, my friends from Los Gatos, Chico, and San Luis Obispo were texting me during my show and telling me I was doing awesome, I could not stop smiling and it was such a great feeling.”

Dj Jac Black checking out some vinyl before her show in the KCSC broadcast office.

Dj Jac Black checking out some vinyl before her show in the KCSC broadcast office.

KCSC: How did KCSC Radio help you get your job at the Blaze?

DJ Jac Black: “Actually, my major really did. But, it really helped that I had background in radio. One of my teachers told me to email three different stations about interning there, and The Blaze was the only that contacted me. And I got hired right on the spot (during the interview.)”

KCSC: Who are some of your favorite artists right now?

DJ Jac Black: “That’s really hard. For more filthy trap, I would say Yellow Claw. I really like Yellow Claw. Taking it down, probably What So Not and Flume. Flume is always great, a lot of stuff like that.”

DJ Jac Black will be graduating from Chico State this semester with her degree in Media Arts on her birthday, December 15th.

DJ Jac Black will be graduating from Chico State this semester with her degree in Media Arts on her birthday, December 15th.

Check out Dj Jac Black’s EDM show “Back at It” next Wednesday from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. during our final week of shows for the Fall semester of 2016.

KCSC writer and reporter Lars Gustafson can be reached on Twitter at @larsonsports.

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