Sunset Campout: The Intimate West Coast Festival for Those Who Know

Photo: Sunset Campout 2016, Credit: Robin Russell

Electric Daisy Carnival. Miami Music Week/Ultra. Tomorrowland. The list of in-your-face mega-festivals geared towards those who use “rage” to describe their partying are plentiful. Fresh-faced 18-year-old nymphs in pasties shuffle to maximum volume EDM, and accommodations generally consists of fairgrounds or hotels.

Sunset Campout takes the best of major festivals- curated acts, excellent production – and leaves out the rest, like mind-numbing lines and uninspiring locales. Sunset Campout kept coming up in conversations with some of Only The Beat’s most respected contacts- people who work in the industry or have traveled extensively for parties.

The event happens next weekend, July 21-23, in Belden, CA. Some Tier 2 weekend tickets still remain. It offers music, art, camping, swimming and more.

Sunset Sound System has been throwing parties since 1994 in San Francisco, with the first Campout originating in 1998. To say that those involved know what they are doing is an understatement. This also lends a more mature feel and attracts attendees who love underground and international acts.

We chat here with Galen Abbott, one of the minds behind Sunset Sound System, about the event.

Only The Beat: Tell us about how Sunset Sound System came about, and then how Sunset Campout evolved from there.

Galen Abbott: Sunset Sound System started with setting up a sound system on Sunday afternoons in the Berkeley Marina as way to bring friends together outside and during the day after a weekend about town in dark warehouses and clubs. Solar and I were just starting to DJ and it was hard to get gigs so we this was a way for us to DJ with our friends.

We did it every Sunday for free and by the end of the summer we had over 1000 people coming out. From there we kept the momentum going and started doing boat parties and soon after a weekend campout. It was much more simple and raw back then, now we bring a very involved and professional yet unique production that stands out in the world of music festivals.

OTB: What is new or different this year for Campout?

GA:This year we have more musical acts coming from our international community than ever before, plus a wide diversity of styles representing many aspects of house music from acid to disco to new wave and much more. We also have more interactive art and healing workshops then we have ever provided.

OTB: What makes Campout stand out from other festivals?

GA: It starts from our approach to events in general which has always been about building community and gathering in mostly unique settings to dance and connect. This focus helps differentiate it from it being a solely for-profit business.

Then the beautiful riverside location gives way to a uniquely intimate experience, surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains with hot days and warm nights. Also, our production of sound, lighting, and art rival any event in the world and is created by our amazing and talented friends that we’ve had relationships with for over 2 decades.

OTB: What 2 acts are you most looking forward to?

GA: It’s hard to just single out 2 acts but I’d have to say: Paranoid London as their acid house sound represents the basis of Sunset’s foundation, and Eddie C who always holds dance floor disco church on Sunday mornings.

OTB: What other events are you/the Sunset Sound System crew looking forward to for the rest of the summer?

GA: We are super excited to bring back our Sunset Island event on Treasure Island. We have an amazing lineup to join myself and Solar for the relaunch on October 1st, including Dixon.


LILY ACKERMAN (Diacritic Collective) | EXILLON (Katabatik) | COLE (Ownership) | CHARLOTTE THE BARONESS (Celect SF) | RICH AB (Lost Weekend – Ojai) | MICHAEL CHULADA | SOLAR | GALEN | J-BIRD |PARANOID LONDON – Live! (UK) | TALABOMAN (John Talabot & Axel Boman – R&S Records) | YOUNG MARCO (Dekmantel – Amsterdam) | DANIEL AVERY (Phantasy – UK) | AVALON EMERSON (Whites – Berlin) | EDDIE C (Red Motorbike – Berlin) | GREG WILSON (Credit To The Edit – UK) | DOC SLEEP (Jacktone Records – Berlin)
PEZZNER (Get Physical Music – Seattle) | FRED EVERYTHING (Lazy Daze – Montreal) | MYSTIC BILL (Trax, Relief Records – Chicago) | BLACK MERLIN (Crimes of the Future – UK) | INTERSTELLAR FUNK (Rush Hour – Netherlands) | INVISIBLE CITY b2b JAMES FLAVOUR (epik – Vancouver/Toronto) | SHARIF LAFFREY (Discos Casablancas, Love On The Rocks – Detroit) | Back2Back with GARTH & JENÖ (Wicked – LA/SF) | JAMAICA SUK – Live! (LAG – Berlin) | TK DISKO (Split Secs, Hot Biscuit – LA) | DIRTY DAVE (Love Thang – LA) | DADDY DIFFERENTLY (Dublab – LA) | EVILWEAVIL (Hot Biscuit – LA) | ROTHMANS b2b STACY CHRISTINE (Shits and Giggles – LA) | JUNIOR (Sunny Side Up – LA) | QZEN (Berlin/San Francisco) | MOZHGAN (We Are Monsters) | SHINY OBJECTS (Smoke n’ Mirrors) | SEPEHR (Black Catalogue) | JASON GREER (We Are Monsters) | JAMES GLASS (Golden Goose) | ANTHONY MANSFIELD (Disco Knights) |DJ M3 (Green Gorilla Lounge) | JIMMY B (WERD.) | SHANE ONE (Songs for Lovers) | dAvi A. (Urgent Turquoise) | SEAN MURRAY (Housepitality) | BENJAMIN K (You’re Welcome) | IT’S OWN INFINITE FLOWER (Squirrels On Film) | COLE (Ownership) | WOO (WERD.) | ZOZ (WERD.) | ALVARO Z. (Songs for Lovers)

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Dawn Runge

Dawn Runge

The cat that curiosity hasn't killed... yet. House music is her gospel. Veteran of dance floors across the world.
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