Cascade Equinox Festival 9.22 - 9.24.23

Deschutes County Fairgrounds
Redmond, OR

Words by Ryleigh Hutson
Photos by Alexander Fornes

The Pacific Northwest is calling home to a new festival in Redmond, OR held at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. The first annual Cascade Equinox Festival was an exploratory event that embodied the wide range of Central Oregon’s music scene and also brought many artists, performers, and attendees from all over the globe. This event had a wonderful and expansive range of musical styles that supported the different interests of the attendees. From jam acts like Goose and the alternative rockers of Phantogram, to the electronic fusion of Pretty Lights, all the way to the new age folk sound of Gone Gone Beyond and Trevor Hall.

Cascade Equinox Festival consisted of six stages, with three being outside (Equinox, Harvest, and Axis), and three being inside (Tilt, Cosmic Drip, and Gravity). The main stage (Equinox Stage) was the center of the festival. This stage brought the event to life with major headliners such as Big Wild, Emancipator, Goose, Phantogram, and Pretty Lights. This outdoor stage stood as a powerful center for the event showcasing amazing live painters, fire dancers, and aerial performances. The other notable stage (Tilt Stage) was located inside of the largest barn on the fairgrounds. This stage highlighted heavier electronic music throughout the three-day event, but became known as the center for the “after party” where attendees would close out the night.

A highlight of day one happened at the main stage just as the sun was setting with Portland, OR based producer Emancipator. His sound of smooth electronic beats and shifting visuals gave a sneak peak of what the main stage was capable of and certainly helped get the party started. Phantogram followed with a fiery performance that captivated the audience. The lighting for this set in particular was explosively powerful as the backdrop of light synced perfectly within the energetic sound of their set. Another Portland based artist Big Wild made his way to the Equinox stage closing out the night.

Night two was all about the big return of Pretty Lights. After a five year hiatus, his return for many brought about an extra sense of nostalgia and love. The set would include many of those old bangers everyone was hoping he would throw down. Opening with “Hot Like Sauce” showed exactly how hot this newly recharged supergroup could get. While during their set, they blew their electronic system and the performance had to experience technical difficulties before getting back up and running. As soon as it did, they continued a massive 13 track set that included favorites such as “Finally Moving” and “I Know The Truth.” Middle of the set included a beautiful remix version of “Fly Like an Eagle” by Steve Miller Band mid set and they closed out the night with “Head Nod Freedom.”

Day three saw the beautiful drizzle of rainy weather that the Pacific Northwest is known for. Many embraced the rain as acts such as Gone Gone Beyond and Trevor Hall graced the Equinox Main stage. Both giving powerful and emotional performances before Goose came on to ride out the night. Goose delivered the longest set hosted at the main stage while the night became brisk with the reflection of the entire experience. The setting of the final night captured the transition of the fall equinox as we felt the freshness in the air and impressive improv jams filled our ears.

What separates the experience of this festival from others is that it is embracing more than just the label of a music festival. Cascade Equinox Festival is an exploratory event that promotes transition and the expression of self through art, movement, and collaboration. While there was a heavy focus on musical performances, this festival represented the transition of seasons through art, educational workshops, and movement. This festival owes its success in distinction to the experience of its creators who are also responsible for the Gem and Jam Festival in Arizona. It was beyond exciting to have been a piece of this memorable event and we are so excited for the years to come!

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