In its second year, Same Same But Different brought out yet another funky lineup that not only the Inland Empire needed, but Southern California as a whole.
Growing up in the Inland Empire, it always felt like I was forced to sit in the car for an hour to get anywhere worth being. Quality, relevant, music and arts in the IE? Not happenin’. This is why Same Same But Different immediately won a spot in my heart: a beautiful, eclectic event only 20 minutes away from my hometown…Say whaaaat? It’s a festival that is helping fill a gaping hole in the Inland Empire, and why I am so grateful that it returned for a second year.
As I pulled into the festival on Friday afternoon, I was greeted by a glaring sun, clear skies, and a stellar rendition of Rose Royce’s “Car Wash” being belted out by the Mustache Bash Family Band. I later found out that the band is the staple of San Diego’s annual Mustache Bash: a groovy 70’s theme party everyone was raving about. And I mean everyone. During this set, the crowd hadn’t arrived quite yet, so there were just a funky few getting down. Naturally, I joined in on the fun.
After my inaugural dance, I took a leisurely stroll around the festival grounds. There were a select few of California’s best festival vendors in attendance: beautiful and bespoke jeweler Grammatique, the socially-conscious, yet glam Luna Wild, and award-winning food truck, The Middle Feast. You haven’t lived til you’ve had one of their plant-based gyros, by the way. This smattering of vendors was the perfect accompaniment for the festival and provided just enough opportunity for the spendiest festy to indulge.
After dipping my feet into the lake and getting some Yoga on, I came back to dance right in time for Elektric Voodoo. This San Diego based band has a sound best described as a blend of “classic afrobeat, latin, rock & roll, psych, jazz and blues.” Let me tell you, their jam sessions were absolutely unparalleled. The band was in sync, original, and had two, yes TWO, saxaphone players. If you didn’t know: I am a sucker for sax. Their soulful rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” and their impromptu maraca jam session were easily the icing on the cake.
Post Elektric Voodoo sultriness, the colorful Turkuaz took the stage to engulf SSBD in a prism of Funk. The band’s fashion was promptly met by their coordinated dance moves and groovy tunes. The New York based ensemble had such a fresh and light-hearted jive that I couldn’t help but shake my groove thang.
As we all made our way back over to the Same Stage, it was time for a set by Trap producer Baauer. Admittedly, I hadn’t listened to him in a few years, and was instantly transported to a much simpler time through his set. Of course he played his notable songs “Harlem Shake” and his remix of Flosstradamus’ “Rollup”, but he also threw in a nostalgic remix of Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci.” My day was made. It was a fun, trap-infused set that elicited some fun sing along moments and bits of welcomed nostalgia.
Now nighttime had officially fallen and it was time to take it up a notch. This is when the stunning Megan Hamilton took the stage and performed a high energy set that was anything but predictable. The fun she was having while she graced us with a little bit of Hip-Hop, Disco, Funk and everything in between was absolutely infectious. Megan’s set was unlike many you see in the Electronic Music space, because not only did she incorporate a diverse blend of sounds, she also utilized her drum pad and, of course, her gorgeous vocals.
At this time the main stage acts were over and the Coconut Club artists held down the beach. However, I was beat from dancing and called it a night.
On day two, I started my activities with a dip in Lake Perris. It was a HOT day- so this is pretty much where everyone could be found for much of the morning and afternoon. This was until I could hear the beautiful voice of Mimi Zulu calling to us from the Different Stage, and I knew it was time to groove. Mimi’s set was pure and hypnotizing from the very beginning. Along with her band, she gracefully belted out an amazing array of songs from her discography, including my now favorite, “Over and Over.” Even in a setting as vast as Lake Perris, the band provided such an intimate performance that exuded passion and love. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Mimi is an ethereal being and if you are ever in San Diego catching a set of her’s is a must.
After getting down with Mimi and her band, it was back to the water I went for a much needed cool off. Again: Lake Perris, while beautiful, is warm, so don’t forget to bring your swimsuit next year.
As the sun started to dip, we got to enjoy the upbeat jams of San Diego based band, The Moves Collective. Frontman Tim Norton had a smile plastered on his face that never left, while Paul Chuey absolutely rocked his saxophones. It was a jazzy set that was so complementary to the chill summer afternoon.
Next up on the docket was Boostive, another San Diego based gem. This group was nothing short of fun. Their performance dissolved any barriers between audience and artist, and made it feel like we were all friends just grooving and hanging together. After this, we all received our nightly dose of eclectic Electronic; energetic drumming phenom Cofresi, smooth and jazzy Exmag, and the improvisatory and quirky, yet unbeatably smooth Capyac were a delicious blend.
To end the mainstage acts on night two, the other-worldy Beats Antique stunned the crowd with their signature fusion sounds and flawless trio of belly dancers. Even without frontwoman and Momma to Be Zoe Jakes, the dancers still put on a sexy show that you just couldn’t look away from. Together, Beats Antique puts on such a compelling show that can tell a story better than any words ever could.
I left the second year of Same Same But Different Festival feeling content, awakened, and aligned. There is something about the backdrop of Lake Perris and the accompaniment of such diverse sounds that make even the most closed person open right up. This festival is safe, intimate, and provides a funk-heavy lineup that is hard to find in our region. Definitely add SSBD to your list if you are a Southern Californian who is craving some first class funk, soul, and jams.
See you soon Same Same But Different Festival, and thank you for the beautiful memories!