No stranger to carefully selected party locations, Ryan Raddon — aka DJ/producer Kaskade — brought his first-ever Sun Soaked rave to the sands of Long Beach, California, on Saturday (July 15) to a sold-out crowd of roughly 13,000. Nestled between the Long Beach Pier, the daytime rager included opening acts Bynon, Ravell b2b Lipless, SNBRN and Gryffin, whose breezy rhythms washed over the sea of sun-kissed beach-goers inciting multiple waves of sing-along moments.
House music songbird Kaleena Zanders performed alongside Los Angeles-based producer and frequent collaborator SNBRN for live renditions of their hit dance remixes of “California” and Swedish House Mafia and Laidback Luke’s timeless anthem “Leave The World Behind” featuring original vocals from Deborah Cox. Opening the set with the latter, the dynamic duo prompted the crowd to grow seemingly threefold, in similar fashion to their record-breaking Coachella performance in the Sahara tent which drew nearly 30,000 spectators in the early afternoon.
Earlier in the day, backstage proved to be a full circle moment for SNBRN (real name Kevin Chapman), who shared a proud moment with his dad (and crowd favorite) getting to meet Kaskade himself. The trio posed for a photo before Chapman’s dad adorably commented, “You don’t understand — I’ve been a fan of his for forever.” Later, Gryffin ushered in his signature daydream vibes dropping melodic gems such as his co-production “Feel Good” with Illenium featuring Daya, his Josef Salvat collaboration “Heading Home” and an infectiously laid remix of Years & Years’ festival favorite “Desire.”
As the sun dropped, the atmosphere heightened with anticipation for Kaskade’s three-hour set, and the undisputed king of Southern California’s dance circuit proved why his over two decades of anthemic hit-making have resonated with so many fans of all ages, races, cultures and personalities. Playing nearly every major smash from his ten-album, career-spanning catalog — including “Move For Me,” “Eyes,” “Never Sleep Alone,” “Disarm You,” “4AM” and even a live debut of a new track with house group Late Night Alumni — Raddon’s history asserts that, unlike many DJ-producers of his caliber, he doesn’t need crossover mainstream radio success or lucrative endorsement deals. Instead, he commands all aspects as an artist and it’s his undying passion, transcendent “konnection” with his global fan base and a history of hits that soundtrack pivotal moments of his fans’ lives that have allowed him to envelop his own utopian sub-universe within music.
While some logistics like the winding lines at the drink and food stands need to be sorted, Sun Soaked is certainly a new player to watch for in SoCal’s crowded electronic market. Rumors of maybe growing the festival to two days in the future were even overheard but not confirmed. Just like the feels-triggering elements of Ryan’s sentimental cuts, the unified gathering was a testament to both the producer and dance scene’s decades-long ability to impact the lives of all who encounter it.