Poor turnout mars First Festival

By Mozes Zarate

So there was a music festival at Southside Park last weekend. Judging from the crowds, you probably weren’t there.

Yeah, I get it. You celebrated Father’s Day elsewhere. Well, it’s a damn shame. There was too much Sacramento talent performing for too few people. Among the onlookers were musicians in other bands, their parents, press people, and distant vendors who likely wished the two-day, 42-band marathon was free.

There were a few hundred patrons scattered between three stages and many booths, and depressingly fewer people and booths on Sunday. The rest, or those who did not pay the $35-per-day entry fee, listened curiously from outside the fenced-off park as they walked by. 

Forgive the pun, because I mean it: I really hope the second First Festival isn’t the last. Talk about a great exhibit to Sacramento’s eclectic, worth-while music scene. A small taste of the genres on display included reggae, metal, rap-rock, indie, country and medieval fable-folk.

Some day one standouts: Sun Valley Gun Club delivered a set of untamed, thrashy indie rock tethered by fine melodies and melancholic lyrics. Blue Oaks, a duo that performed on the modest Craft Beer Lounge stage reserved for quieter acts, brought brooding blues in low tempo to a small crowd gathered on stools and lawn chairs.

But Saturday headliner Epsilona made the night. Heck, both nights. Tame Impala, John Mayer and ‘80s synth pop sort of captures what they do. The people loved them. No courtesy applause was needed there.

Day two was prime for solo performers sporting a shyer sound back at the Craft Beer Lounge. Sean Fleming was among the most graceful, as well as Justin Farren, whose sound can best be described as acoustic story-time. Unfortunately, their soft tunes clashed with the loud muffle of the main stage bands down the park, and both the crowd and performers got used to the distraction, I suppose.

A ton of Sacramento businesses made their presence known, offering food, craft beer, clothing, crafts and even back rubs. I have to mention the mermaid, who rolled along dry land via a wooden cart pushed by her caretaker. They do birthday parties, mostly.

Those few who paid for both days probably had a fun weekend out, even if most of these artists play at local dives for a small cover.

But, to the woman walking up and down the Eighth Street sidewalk during one of the sets, and most people apparently, $60 might be too much to ask to support local music.

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