Dirtybird BBQ – Treasure Island, CA Sept. 13, 2015

As the desert dust and memories of Burning Man get washed away from the bodies and minds of homebound burners, a different kind of dust lifts on a separate crowd one week later. These folks have gathered on a small grassy patch of Treasure Island, which stands situated between San Francisco and the East Bay cities in Northern California. This crowd has gathered for the same purpose, with the same vibes in mind, and the same attitude, all of which sum up to equal what has become the annual Dirtybird BBQ, a day-long festival consisting of dirty beats and dirty-good barbecuin’.

2 ladies beside electronic festival crowd at dirtybird bbq san francisco

The festival vibes were on point at Dirtybird BBQ, photo by The DJ List

Dirtybird Records was initially founded in 2005, and now consists of over 25 house DJs, some of which have debuted their talent for the first time with the record label. On this day, September 13th 2015, seven of the DJs from the label got together to fill the hearts, minds, and souls of every attendee with deep bass and a badass set of melodies and lyrics. One was sure to leave the event simply satisfied–whether this was helped by the deliciously saucy burgers and Mexican food offered from the food trucks, is a question best left to those that missed out on the entire experience–gastronomic and otherwise.


Grillson barbecuing at Dirtybird BBQ music festival san francisco

Grillson has a special touch with BBQ, photo courtesy of Magnetic Magazine

Claude VonStroke, the original founder of Dirtybird Records, is a Bay Area resident and attends most of the Dirtybird BBQ events within his stomping grounds. In addition to Claude, Justin Martin, J. Philip, Christian Martin, Worthy, and Ardalan all got to show off their dirty beat-mixing chops for the small crowd of about 300. The weather was partly cloudy, yet maintained a warm 70F through the peak of the day. The crowd was dressed in a healthy mix of both casual and eclectic styles, giving hint as to which people had possibly come back from Burning Man and were burning for a new high (pun intended), or were here for the first time and dressing for convenience, conservativeness, or the impending chill that San Francisco dusk brings. I had opted for a taste of both, donning a crop top with jeans, and a warm army jacket for later. Lawn chairs and blankets were laid out to mark group territory, which mattered less and less as the dry grass and dust coated a sneaky layer over everything in sight.


Claude Vonstroke plays the best electronic house music at dirtybird bbq festival

Claude Vonstroke keeps it real. The entire music festival was up close & personal. Photo by Art Gimbel; courtesy of Fest 300

The smell of blunts and the sight of thick white smoke rose above heads and floated for some moments before dissipating. Beers were opened and bottles clinked in group cheers, while hot food was brought back from the long concession lines and eaten in the crowd, much to the dismay of hungry eyes standing nearby. My total tally for grub consisted of a hefty beef burrito, two California style grass-fed (hand massaged, locally sourced, non-GMO fed, open field grown and sustainably raised) beef sliders, and a 4-cheese slice of veg pizza with arugula lemon oil salad piled high on top. And I was still hungry. Laughter was heard everywhere, friendly conversation and banter was always in fashion and discussions of the skills of each Dirtybird were in constant cycling throughout the day. Even an inflatable floating cheeseburger managed to entertain the crowd for some time, until it was thrown around to get out of everyone's space as a cheeseburger is wont to do when it looms overhead for two hours plus.


J Phlip at dirtybird electronic bbq music festival

J. Phlip flipping switches while Grillson flips burgers nearby, photo courtesy of Magnetic Magazine

One major impression point with the barbecue is that unlike the traditional music festival, where everyone holds a colorful map and artist schedule per stage is that the Dirtybird BBQ is a straight up blend of nothing but excellent music. There is no pretension, no competition, no inexperienced folk buying a complete pass and only spending her best moments dancing to the DJs she hears on the radio while they press play to a song everyone has heard before. No Dirtybird is better than another, and although some are more well-recognized for their contributions, they work as a team to bring the people the music they want to hear. There was no headliner and no opener in the proper sense, just seven talented individuals coming together to have a great time themselves and pass on the thick bass to the masses. The music all sounded original, there was not a track I heard that could have been edited for radio and played back just that way, extra melodies were added and taken as needed, and the beat went on and on.


music festival crowd at dirtybird bbq sunset

As the sun went down, the only thing missing was a tent to call home.  Photo by Art Gimbel; courtesy of Fest 300

Despite all the positive vibes, however, every story must contain an antagonist of some kind. Having been to Treasure Island numerous times prior and therefore used to the topography, the last thing I expected was to look up at the sky above the stage during sunset and see a threatening haze of dust looming in the air, and blown right in our faces by the eastward winds. Of course…where there is music, there will be people, and the people will dance. If they happen to be standing on dry grass and dirt however, expect to cover your face and head or deal with dust in places where it does not belong. At that moment I began to feel like a sad version of a Saharan explorer, dancing in the cruel desert half against my will, to be blown in the face continuously by the now chilly NorCal night winds that carried the dust that bullied me for hours. But I could not let my fellow explorers down. Those among us that did not bring a scarf or bandana were feeling the same way, dejected, yet left with no option but to keep dancing to the beat and soldier on. My shoes were dark, my hair matted to a near dread lock state, my jacket was almost trying to keep me warm, and my brain was merging into sleep mode. On a similar scale, yet with better preparation, this is what I had seen and felt at my first experience at the Lightning in a Bottle music festival held earlier this May in Bradley, CA. It was just as dusty, and showers were on the bottom of the list, however heavier boots, multiple layers and a bandana for the face (along with immense energy levels) had kept me warm, awake, and breathing clearly throughout the four days of music and spiritual awakening.


3 girls having a blast at dirtybird electronic bbq music festival

The entire crowd brought friendly festival vibes and chilled as a family. Photo courtesy of SF Station

The clock has struck 8 on this breezy-chill Sunday evening, and the music slowed down to a stop. As the dust began to settle and the festival goers slowly left for home, I wondered if this is what Burning Man must feel like. The excitement of the experience, the music, culture, friends, as well as the wind storms and all the dirty birds roaming around until it’s all over and we all go home with early onset yearning for next year’s repeat. My stomach was satisfied, as were my ears, but my body and brain were crying for the quickest Uber home. Another Dirtybird fan was added to the list, and the day successfully completed.

The Dirtybird label also hosts the Quarterly, a seasonal club event in San Francisco consisting of a random combination of the Dirtybird DJs. Past testimonials from friends are nothing but rave reviews, citing an interactive experience, great crowd involvement and original beats. Ticket prices have floated at a steady $15, although I was told that this is significantly underpriced given the event’s popularity and revenue potential for the DJs, who ultimately place importance on giving a great show over squeezing a dollar out.

They also have their first festival campout coming to SoCal Oct 2-4.

Be sure to check out our Dirtybird Campout Review!

Peace & Love,

Marija Milutinovic

(peep more from Marija on her blog, Part Two)


The Best Electronic music producers around will be counselors at Dirtybird Festival

Need more Dirtybird beats & BBQ in your life? Peep the Dirtybird Campout (Oct. 2-4)

The only bad part about Dirtybird BBQ's is that they tend to come to an end. Luckily, Dirtybird has found a way to bypass the trip to the after-party by teaming up with The Do LaB to host their first 3-night campout music festival. That's right. Get ready for 3 days of the best electronic music and freshest house beats in the world. Oh yeah-and 3 days of BBQ!!!

Peep the Dirtybird preview video and playlist for more info.


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