MASSV Tweaks Some Things in Year Two 

Electronic music fest prepares to invade Sun Valley

From a distance, Sun Valley looked like a futuristic sci-fi battle scene the weekend of July 14, 2012, as thunderous screeches and honks sliced through the air and the mountains were lit up by approximately a gazillion lasers.

But it wasn't an alien invasion, it was an invasion of music fans taking part in the inaugural MASSV Music and Arts Showcase, a multi-day, outdoor electronic music festival.

The first year of MASSV was marked by issues great and small. Inclement weather was a complication, but tragic was the death of the festival's founder, Zack Peterson, 26, and his wife, CJ, 31, in a car crash less than a week before it was set to be announced to the public.

The festival carried on in the wake of Zack and CJ's deaths, but not without acrimony from some who claimed that--despite assertions to the contrary by members of Zack and CJ's families--MASSV had strayed from its original vision.

Regardless, MASSV drew crowds aplenty to see acts like Ghostland Observatory and Beats Antique, and to take part in a wider range of carnival-style performance and visual art acts.

For the second iteration of MASSV, which goes down in Sun Valley Friday, July 5-Saturday, July 6, the festival's organizers have taken steps to address issues faced in the debut year, as well as to fine-tune the event as a whole.

The biggest change MASSV-goers will notice is that instead of the performance area being in downtown Ketchum with camping nearly five miles away, the festival will be located in one spot at the base of River Run at Bald Mountain in Sun Valley.

"It made a lot of sense to have everything contained," said Henry Rennar, the festival's talent buyer and the booker for Reef.

That location change also means that the festival won't spill over into a street party like it did last year. Instead, Rennar said there will be a Pre-Func Party at Whiskey Jacques Thursday, July 4, to kick things off. Rennar noted that MASSV didn't drop the street party because of any tension with locals; he said self-containment makes the festival more efficient, overall.

Rennar also said the festival has pumped more money into the old razzle dazzle, investing in more lasers than Ghostland Observatory, last year's headliners, and bringing in lighting folks who have worked with EDM megastar Bassnectar.

"The production is going to be a lot bigger," said Rennar. "It's actually going to be quite a spectacle."

And since lasers are pretty boring in the daytime, MASSV's increased focus on lighting and effects has also pushed back the schedule.

"Last year, we did doors around noon," said Rennar. "This year will go until 2 a.m. on-site with doors at 4 p.m., so it's kind of an evening/night thing."

The lineup has also narrowed a bit in focus, leaning more electronic than the inaugural year--with headliners like Krewella, Gramatik and Mimosa. There's also a sprinkling of hip-hop acts like People Under the Stairs and Chali 2na, formerly with Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli.

"Last year was a bit more diverse as far as musical taste," said Rennar. "We went about booking it the same way, but it ended up that a lot of the stuff we wanted originally--stronger stuff in the indie electronic realm like Starfucker--wasn't available."

The festival did add a second stage to accommodate more local groups, however. The dome used as the beer tent during Treefort Music Fest will be filled with regional acts like Magic Sword and Lerk.

And finally, the most massive difference between this year's festival and last is that Rennar and co. upgraded the main stage to better withstand the possibility of rain, something that caused several hours of delay at last year's festival.

"The stage cover should be good, unless we get winds over 40 mph," said Rennar.

But if that happens, MASSV will just have to wrap up in Oz, 'cause that's how backup plans are done.

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