Down The Rabbit Hole: Newly minted music event What The Festival creates a wonderland of dancing fun | Sound Stories & Interviews | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

Down The Rabbit Hole: Newly minted music event What The Festival creates a wonderland of dancing fun

The inaugural What The Festival (WTF) will take place over the last weekend in July and promises to be an oasis of music and fun with three days of hot-hot-hot electronic music.


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You know that conversation when a friend tells you that he or she just had an amazing weekend at an event you hadn’t even heard of? And though you may feign recognition and play that you didn’t go because of your own big important plans, you still end up feeling like an eight-year-old kid, kicking sand with a pouting bottom lip and your hands stuffed in your pockets?

This summer, the brand spanking new What The Festival could easily be one of the events that lead to those conversations.

Located in White River Canyon, 100 miles east of Portland and near Mt. Hood, the inaugural What The Festival (WTF) will take place over the last weekend in July and promises to be an oasis of music and fun with three days of hot-hot-hot electronic music. It will also offer more than your standard camping festival—in fact, a lot more.

What The Festival organizers have decided that creating a mind-blowing experience requires more heft than just awesome music and a comfortable place to camp and they’ve come up with some super fly amenities to take this music festival to the next level.

The Splash Pool: WTF is bringing summer to the desert valley by constructing a giant pool of spring water. There will be a sandy beach with umbrellas and loungers, all next to a stage featuring some amazing DJ’s.

The Hookah Lounge: You’ll be able to chill with a relaxing smoke in this gypsy style tent plush with pillows and rugs.

Installation Art: Gigantic sculptures will also be at WTF and you are invited to climb and interact with them. One of the more prominent pieces will be Michael Christian’s Candelaphytes. These were featured at the Coachella Festival in 2011 and are super-tall kinetic tree like structures that light up and sway to the music. There will also be a gypsy wagon lounge inspired by Toad’s Wild Ride and oversized climbable lily flowers.

Other enhancements at WTF include costumed entertainers, yoga and high-energy dance classes, premium artisan shopping, panel discussions, and, according to the website—mischievous clowns.

Of course you can’t have a music festival without some artists to provide the music, and even though WTF might coax a ticket out of you based solely on the other features, the festival has assembled a lineup packed so full of electronic music, your legs will probably get sore just thinking about all the dancing you’ll be doing.

While any number of these acts could be plucked out of the lineup and bestowed “must see” status, here are some artists that merit your attention.

Gold Panda: This U.K. performer is more of a composer than he is a DJ. His albums are cohesive works of art that invoke world sounds as well as smooth electronic beats in order to tell emotional stories.

Star Slinger: Another U.K. artist, Darren Williams creates subtle hip-hop and funk beats as Star Slinger, and builds a unique and soulful electro-R&B sound.

Holy Fuck: Rock-and-roll also has its place in electronic music and Toronto based collective Holy Fuck, administer that disheveled rock vibe perfectly with nearly non-stop dance beats.

Beats Antique: Some of the more intense performers on stage today, California’s Beats Antique weave Eastern gypsy music, belly dancing and performance art into their high-energy shows.

If you do choose to head out to the White River Canyon for the dare-to-be-great WTF, there is more to navigate than just the festival grounds and the band lineup. Camping options, food options, and travel arrangements need to be researched. The WTF’s website is a great place to start.  But for those of you willing to take the time to plan out a WTF experience and buy a ticket, your exploration of the wilderness wonderland may end up feeling more like a dream than a reality.

What The Festival

July 27-29

White River Canyon, OR

Tickets at

About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...


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