Garden of Sonic Delights

mus edgeCan the Edge of Eden Festival change UCSC’s image?

As the stream of Coachellagrams begins to dwindle, and that hollow, empty feeling begins to sink in, it’s time to ask yourself: can you make it until the next music festival?

Just in time, here’s something you don’t have to sell your bike, Pokémon collection and soul to attend: UCSC’s new Edge of Eden festival.

An incredibly determined group of Student Union Assembly members have navigated a maze of red tape to bring to Santa Cruz the likes of Dillon Francis, Zion I, Two Gallants, Ill-Esha, Irene Diaz, and local favorites Eliquate.

On Saturday, May 10, the UCSC OPERS field will host the first-ever Edge of Eden Music Festival. And, better still, it’s not just a bunch of kandi-wearing neon bro-tank enthusiasts stoked on EDM.

These students are kind of over being defined by the haze that rolls in once a year; they’ve moved on to bigger and better things, and they’re taking their campus with them.

“4/20 is one of the number one things that comes to people’s minds when they think of Santa Cruz; it’s a big stereotype and a big stigma that we have,” says Kayla Oh, chief of staff for the on-campus Internal Vice Chair (IVC) office of the SUA. “We thought that this could be something to draw attention away from that, and have something else that we can put our name on and be proud of.”

Elliot Wright, UCSC alum and front man of the local band Eliquate, has been thinking the same thing for years.

“Every year I see [4/20] and think ‘why don’t they just sanction this and have live music? Then everyone could be safe and happy and have something to do,” he says. “I think they got the right idea with this one.” 

Wright isn’t the only one—when the Catalyst’s head talent-buyer Thomas Cussins attended UCSC, he would have given his left leg to go to a festival like this. Now he gets to see his dream fulfilled, and keep both his legs.

Cussins, who helped the SUA shape the lineup, agrees that Edge of Eden has the potential to be the extra impetus needed to shrink the campus-city divide because of the variety of musical tastes that cater to locals and students alike.

“Maybe this event can be something we all rally behind, and can be proud of as UCSC students and alums, and people who live in Santa Cruz,” Cussins says.

Headliner Dillon Francis has garnered the most hype for the festival. Edge of Eden director Jose Olivas, who has worked for SnowGlobe and Outside Lands, felt that Francis would be a perfect fit after the much-anticipated deal with UCSC-alum Bassnectar fell through due to campus sound regulations. The 3,000 people who already bought tickets for Edge of Eden seem to agree that Dillon and the rest of the lineup are kind of a big deal.

“I think it was a kind of perfect storm,” said Olivas of the long process of seeking out artists, trying to accommodate their requests, and fitting it into the school’s budget. “Easy? No, but it’s the first time. There have been challenges, because it’s a new orientation of dealing with things like major staging. Ultimately, the campus has really gotten behind it.”

Led by what seems like it must be a small army—but in reality is, like, 20 people—the festival will be a lot bigger than a sound system dragged into the forest behind College 9 or a drum circle in the Porter field.

“We have a major lighting, staging, video component to the show. It’s a real gig,” says Olivas. “It’s not going to be dumbed down.”

With only a few days to go, the expectations for locals and students are climbing.

“We don’t have a big football team to get ready to watch on game day and cheer together. I would love for students to come away from this and realize that there are opportunities to be a whole united school,” says IVC chief of staff Oh. “Even if for just a few hours, to dance next to someone you’ve never seen before, and just have that bond.”

The first Edge of Eden festival will be held at 2pm on Saturday, May 10 at the East Field at UCSC; all ages. Tickets are $45; www2.ucsc.edu/edgeofeden.

Features Editor at |

Anne-Marie was 9 when she decided she would be a journalist. Many years, countless all-nighters, two majors and one degree later, she started as GT’s Features Editor a day after graduating UCSC.
In her writing she seeks to share local LGBTQ/Queer stories and unpack Santa Cruz’s unique relationship with gender, race, the arts, and armpit hair.
A dedicated pursuant of wokeness and turtleneck evangelist, she finds joy in wall calendars and that fold of skin above the knee.

To Top