Sac Stay Home Fest’s DIY wonderland
Get out, stay home: Library of MusicLandria founders Buddy Hale and Rachel Freund urged Sacramentans to not leave town last Saturday and instead attend their homegrown art, music and comedy festival Sac Stay Home Fest. According to Hale, more than 400 people attended the all-day free festival, an impressive feat considering its DIY nature.
Red Museum looked like a post-apocalyptic bunker for the occasion. One comedian described the inside space as an emptied-out barn with “the world’s most expensive chandelier.” Outside felt like a bazaar on a rural alien planet from the show Firefly. There were vendors selling food, shirts, art and books, with the outdoor stage protected from the sun with a large—and ugly—folded tarp dangling several feet in the air.
This festival couldn’t have taken place in any other city than Sacramento. It was a true coming together of the town’s weirder artist types, with a deliberately gritty aesthetic and interesting tidbits shoved into every corner.
Most importantly, it was a true community event. When I asked Hale who exactly was behind it, he said that he could name at least 50 people that helped put it together and left it at that. Even the emcee for the evening, Curtis Atkisson, just volunteered shortly before the fest—and he killed it.
So much of the festival was about finding little surprises, like a Slip ’N Slide, a box of magazines and art supplies for anyone looking to make collages, and an artist in a Victorian wig offering $5 portraits. I got one and he really evoked my melancholy side.
The festival also captured the stranger side of Sacramento’s rock scene. On the more normal end of the spectrum were great bands like Sun Valley Gun Club, Mondo Deco and Dog Rifle. Even Sac Stay Home sound guy Drew Walker’s old band the Happy Medium—playing its first show in five years—and its dynamic psych-rock, gnome-growling vocals and continually shifting prog-chops was practically pop music compared to some of the other acts.
My three favorites were the Buk Buk Bigups, a one-man-vintage-suit-wearing-band that played short blips of synth-pop followed by long blasts of atonal noise; Ross Hammond, who provided a mellow, jazzy, experimental guitar backdrop while a random woman took it upon herself to spin neon hula hoops; and Pac and Sleep, the truly spectacular sax-drum duo of Jon Bafus and Randy McKean. They played free jazz at an unrelenting spastic energy level that was so intense, you were dripping with sweat just watching.
Boys are OK sometimes: The new Destroy Boys album, Sorry, Mom, isn’t so self-conscious about dealing with teenage shenanigans. Its nine songs, a folly of frantic garage rock romps, aren’t afraid to tell you about it either.
A single overdriven guitar (Vi Mayugba), drums (Ethan Knight) and vocals (Alexia Roditis) make for catchy racket, like in “Junk,” an irritable ode to misplacing your stuff for good, again. Mayugba delivers one pleasantly crunched riff after another to Knight’s breathless drum flurries. Meanwhile, Roditis narrates her diary of an angsty teen girl, her vocal style some parts cheery, some parts depressed and annoyed, but always melodically daring. The whole package can get serious, but it keeps an attitude that’s playful enough to imagine that they pick each other’s noses.
And sometimes, the songs are indeed about boys. “I Threw Glass At My Friend’s Eyes And Now I’m On Probation,” is a four-chord punk tune about being ickily smitten with an older guy. “Widow,” a slower alt-rock jam, compares a former squeeze to a creeping spider, and “No Respect” takes a friend to the woodshed over his male entitlement.
Struggles with insecurity, apathy and depression form the album’s darker margins. “Put me in the farthest ward, maybe I’ll be a little less bored,” Roditis sings in the final track, “Word Salad.” The songs are ironic and self-aware, but the stories seem more so about coping with and trudging through their experiences, rather than getting all furrow-browed about what life could possibly mean.
Growing up never ends after all, and Sorry, Mom is a fun, rocking reflection of those riotous years.