The Santa Cruz Music Festival is back and bigger than ever
It’s just six days away from the 2015 Santa Cruz Music Festival (SCMF) on Saturday, Oct. 10—a day-long event featuring more than 130 artists on 14 stages in 10 venues along Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz—and chaos reigns at the festival’s headquarters, which is also organizer Brian Crabtree’s living room. Since the early morning, he and co-founder Thomas Dawson have been on their computers working on the minute details of the sprawling event, as they have every day for the past six months.
This is the festival’s third year, and the sleepless organizers have teamed up with Euphoric.Net—one of Bay Area’s premier promotion companies—to put on the best one yet. Keeping a philosophy of “community first” in mind, more than 70 percent of the acts are local. They will even have two booths set up where attendees can donate money to the family of Madyson Middleton, the 8-year-old local girl whose murder in August devastated the community.
With so much happening on Saturday, we’ve assembled a “must-see” guide to SCMF madness.
Anyone who believes electronic music has no merit has never heard RJD2. Or rather, they probably have, and just didn’t know it. His song “A Beautiful Mine” is the theme song for the hit TV show Mad Men. He is an aural collage artist; deconstructing familiar songs and sounds, drawing from a palette of genres and rearranging them into an entirely new vision.
Born RJ Krohn, the producer and DJ has been making music since 1993, but didn’t release his debut solo album Deadringer until 2002 after signing with Definitive Jax Records, owned by hip-hop artist El-P. Since then he has released nine studio albums—most recently STS X RJD2 in collaboration with Silver Tongue Slim—and produced a plethora of who’s who in the music industry like Aesop Rock, Yo La Tango, Mos Def, and many more.
G Jones has made a name for himself in the electronic scene in a big way. The native Santa Cruz trap artist recently teamed up with another local alumni, Bassnectar, for a hometown homage track appropriately called “The Mystery Spot.” Released in June, the track already has more than 600,000 listens on Spotify, bringing the Santa Cruz style to ears around the world. From spacey hyphy mixes to in-the-pocket trap beats to syrupy-drenched dubstep, G Jones mixes style and swag into a set that will leave dancers excited for more.
This year, organizers are launching a satellite event to coincide with the music. Santa Cruz Speaks is a five-hour lecture series focusing on four different issues important to Cruzan culture—sustainability, the state of our city, cannabis and music—at the Center Stage Theater.
“We think it’s important to not only provide entertainment to our attendees, but information as well,” says the series organizer, Sam Working. “Santa Cruz has a lot of groundbreaking local people and organizations that are doing really interesting and important things.”
Hosted by Matthew Swinnerton of Event Santa Cruz, the sustainability panel will kick off the day and feature special guests from the Coastal Watershed Council, Bike Santa Cruz County, GESS Environmental, and Allterra Solar. Guests will be considering a range of issues from a local and global standpoint on green energy, conservation and how humans can leave less of a hazardous impact on the planet.
From 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., Mayor Don Lane; Good Times publisher Jeanne Howard; former mayor Michael Rotkin; the director of the Downtown Association, Chip; and Santa Cruz School District Superintendent Michael Watkins discuss affairs from smart solutions to homelessness in the area to the state’s role in education and the future of Santa Cruz.
The cannabis panel will feature Santa Cruz Labs representatives Alec Dixon and Ian Rice along with the host of KSCO’s “Cannabis Connection,” Chris Carr. Topics range from testing quality of medicinal cannabis to the current laws surrounding cultivation and the impending future of legalization.
The series ends with an hour-long exchange about the Santa Cruz music scene, with journalists Brad Kava and Jordan Keeling sharing their experiences reporting on the strange world of local musicians. Jennifer Gallacher of Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios will offer listeners untapped resources to fit into the larger local arts community.
Festivalgoers can submit their questions to the panelists via the Santa Cruz Speaks Facebook page at facebook.com/santacruzspeaks.
While the previous two Santa Cruz Music Festivals featured a multitude of local talent, one thing was clearly missing.
“We wanted a heavy metal showcase the first year, but couldn’t,” explains Crabtree. “Because metal is such a large part of the Santa Cruz music scene, we couldn’t ignore it again.”
With that ethos in mind, SCMF has organized an entire day of hair-thrashin’ and slow-rockin’ metal for all those heshers who still know how to headbang. Hosted at the 418 Project, the showcase will feature nine metal acts (eight of them from Santa Cruz) drawing spine-curdling heaviness from every subgenre metalheads love.
The recently formed Stone Sloth will be the first doom band laying a considerable blanket of audible destruction followed by the galactic psych jams of Mountain Tamer, with local blues-sludge trio the Bad Light cashing out the hazy session.
Lightning chaos will begin with San Jose’s’ Satan’s Blade, followed by technical death heads A Thousand Shall Fall. Leucrota brings their blackened-crust edge, along with Worship’s hardcore-infused downtempo death. The moshing continues into the night with the disgusting sound of Fountain of Bile and the gore-ific Parasitic Ejaculation. This isn’t a show for anyone who squirms at the thought of being drenched in sweat that may or may not be their own.
One of the more unique aspects of this year’s festival will be the Silent Disco upstairs at the Catalyst bar. Patrons will be given headphones with two channels, each dialed into one of the two stages set up inside, allowing them the option to flip between the 24 different DJs spinning the night’s soundtrack. With a cornucopia of local electronic music to feed ravers’ ears, SCMF grabbed a diverse group of trap, dubsteb, house, nu disco, trance, grime, and more.
“We think it’s a cool experience that people will enjoy,” explains Dawson. “And it allows us to utilize two stages in one without any noise pollution bothering the neighbors.”
The Santa Cruz Music Festival will be held on Saturday, Oct. 10 at venues around downtown Santa Cruz. Tickets are $40-$50, available at Streetlight Records, the Catalyst and Berdels, and online at santacruzmusicfestival.com, which also has schedule information.
ET TÚ, DJ? RJD2 headlines the Santa Cruz Music Festival on Saturday.