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Allen Oh OhFest

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Local Spotlight: Allen Oh talks OhFest, and what it was like to put on his own festival

Allen Oh has graced the stages of many popular venues in the Pacific Northwest. He has had the opportunity to open for some of his favorite artists including deadMau5, Above & Beyond, and Mat Zo. Last year he organized his own music festival, OhFest. DNMW was excited to reconnect with Allen and he was generous to sit down with us to chat about the 2022 iteration, which took place earlier this summer in mid-June.

Allen Oh describes himself as “the kid in high school at house parties sitting in the corner with his iPod playing music.” By college, he started DJing using decks and dedicated software, and the rest is history.

When asked about his favorite set ever played, he shared: “The most meaningful set I’ve ever played was at Bumbershoot 2014. It was a packed hall with a line out the door, but most importantly it was the first and only time my parents have come to see me play.”

As for what inspired him to come up with his own festival, Allen describes ambitions that go back to his early days in the local music scene.

“Throwing a festival is something I’ve always dreamed of,” he said. “They’re literally my favorite places in the world, but I never felt like I was ready to organize one myself. However, I started going to a local festival called APOG that really inspired me and gave me the courage to go ‘you know what? I can do this.'”

That led to the creation of OhFest, albeit not without a fair share of obstacles to overcome. That included grappling with the early days of the pandemic in its debut year, but ultimately, the end result was more than he could have hoped for.

“Last year was the first edition of OhFest, and while there was still lots of uncertainty with the pandemic, it was just a small private gathering and I have to say it was one of the, if not the best weekend of my life,” he recounted. “I wasn’t sure if OhFest was going to come together this year but around January the questions started rolling in and people were already working on art projects so I knew we had to do it again.”

The 2022 edition of OhFest came with a space-centric “Outer Limits” theme, designed to “challenge people to go to the edge of their comfort zone when it comes to self-expression.”

“Whether that’s what they choose to wear, or what the DJ chooses to play, we hope to create a safe space where we can truly express ourselves without feeling self-conscious or judged,” Allen described. “I guess that’s what I love most about music festivals. That complete freedom of expression.”

This year, we were stoked that Allen was kind enough to include Dance Music Northwest in the OhFest experience.

The event took place at Prancing Unicorn Resort and Recreation (PURR), in Shelton, WA from June 10-12. When we first walked into the outdoor area of the venue, we immediately observed attendees dancing outside. There was a school bus and a DJ inside, who was enjoying being a part of the dance energy while also existing in their own creative bubble.

At the entrance to the indoor dance area was a boutique-style shop called Darryl’s, providing attendees items like clothing with animal print or sparkle. At the indoor stage, there was plenty of space for dancing and lounging. The lights and laser show were in sync with the music throughout the entire event and did not disappoint. Once our legs were tired and we were ready to quench our thirst, there was a bar with a lounge for attendees who wanted to enjoy the music from a distance.

The musical lineup consisted of DJs who were playing for the first time, in addition to veterans of the scene like Johnny Monsoon, Wesley Holmes, and Allen Oh himself. We heard electronic music of all styles throughout the night, ranging from housey renditions of 90s throwbacks, to drum and bass, trance, and dubstep.

In the end, it was a unique experience to attend an event organized by a local DJ and 200 of their closest friends. We can positively say that we left OhFest with our souls full of music and a strong sense of community. We look forward to seeing more of what Allen Oh has in store for us as a musician, creator, and respected colleague.

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