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Peter Eichar and Brad Sweet did it again. Following a year off in 2020, Same Same But Different returned for their third installment of their beachside music festival.  They delivered a weekend jam-packed with camping, great food, yoga/meditation, art, a diverse range of music, and most importantly - good vibes. I had the pleasure of visiting SSBD in 2019 for their second year and I was super stoked to see how these guys could up the ante (see my review of Same Same But Different 2019 here). While that was indeed a great time, let’s just say the third time was the charm.

One of the underrated aspects of these camping festivals is, ironically, the camping.  This festival provides four different campgrounds to choose from with two of them directly on the beach. In addition, the vibes at SSBD are A1. Everyone I met was upbeat and down to have a good time. Throughout the campsite, I came across sporadic tent-hopping parties and random games between groups of camps. I expected to do some more exploring in the campgrounds than I did, but this year the But Stage and Coconut Club had other plans for me.

Kicking each day off at 11 AM, these two side stages set the early tones of the festival. The But Stage was nestled inland and away from the beach under some trees near the food trucks and vendor village. The stage was low to the ground and the venue felt very intimate, reminding me of those backyard shows I used to go to in high school. Headlined by bands like Aviator Stash and One Hot Planet, this was the spot to listen to raw live music. If guitars, saxophones, and drums are your thing, this is where you wanted to be.

Down by the water on the sand, a very different scene was developing. The Coconut Club featured a DJ booth, dance floor, and bars situated right on the water. Imagine spring break in Lake Havasu with a dash of Vegas day club. That’s the Coconut Club. Until about an hour and half before sunset, DJ acts such as Donald Glaude and Vindata fueled the life of the party with bass lines as attendees laid out in the shade, enjoyed drinks at the bar, relaxed on floaties in the water, or partied with the DJs on the sand.

Around sunset each day, the two smaller stages wound down. Folks from the But Stage and the Coconut Club made their way over to the two main stages, the Same Stage and Different Stage. Attendees trickled out the water and out of their tents for the night festivities. I’m sure this was done by design, but you could feel the divergent vibes from the two starter stages start to complement each other as the crowd mixed into one large party.

A cool feature of SSBD is the way they run their main stages. Set up as a two stage alternating tandem, only one stage was active at a time and the sets ping-ponged back and forth throughout the night. I love this because each stage got a reset in between sets but the party was always still intact, moving from one side of the beach to the other. I even saw a creative group of festival attendees who put a motor on a couch so they could relocate back and forth between the two main stages with ease. STS9, LSDream, Clozee, and Big Gigantic are some of the few names who held down the two main stages deep into the wee hours of the night.

In addition to great music and the ongoing party, this festival also boasted a plethora of different amenities and activities that were well thought out and added so much value for attendees. Located near the main stages, you could find charging stations, lockers, a variety of art installations, and VIP areas. From body painting to deep tissue massages, freelance services were also available. The food was great too, with festival cuisine ranging from authentic Asian food and Indian food to the classics like burgers and pizza. The vendor village was a dope place to pick up festival essentials or quirky outfits. It’s a very dope, well-rounded burgeoning festival that is quickly picking up steam. Year over year the frills and overall size of the festival have grown, but not nearly as much as it’s rapidly expanding following. This is one of those festivals you need to keep an eye out for. I just visited and they’ve already got a countdown to next one. See you all at Same Same But Different 4 on September 9-11, 2022.


Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

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