Federal Underground's New Local Band Series Kicks Off This Week

Photo by Nicholas Noell

Months after opening their 300-capacity underground venue, Federal Bar has announced the launch of The Getdown, a new collaboration between Long Beach Independent and the Federal Bar, which will showcase local Long Beach bands starting with Fathers & Suns on April 3.

Every first and third thursday of month, a $5 cover charge will grant access to two to three bands of varying genres from talent strewn across Long Beach who will serenade those inside the 1920s-themed all-ages performance space, which is owned and operated by Knitting Factory Entertainment. CEO Morgan Margolis said while there are plans to bring national acts to Long Beach, this venue wants to work with existing ones, not against them.

“I don’t want the other venues [in Long Beach] to worry that we’re here to swoop down and take over their market,” Margolis told the Post when the venue opened. “I’m looking to work together. We’re not a 1000-cap venue and we’re not coming in with a House of Blues or a big Knitting Factory concert house. We want to make well-booked space that benefits Long Beach.”

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The cooperation portion is where music blog Long Beach Independent comes into the picture. Although KFE operates music venues across the country, they needed someone with a working knowledge of a city that is often an afterthought in the music scene. LBI and its trove of interviews, live video and show calendars was a perfect partner.

“They didn’t really have people who knew anything about Long Beach and that’s where we came in,” said Shea Newkirk, founder and operator of LBI. “They felt that we had a pretty good grasp on the music scene and which bands were doing what and they wanted to get our opinion on a local band night there.”

When Newkirk and a group of friends founded Long Beach Independent in 2003, they had one goal in mind: party. It was actually called Long Beach Party Project with the catalyst behind the group being to recreate Mitch-A-Palooza, the epic backyard party from the movie Old School.

They threw some great parties but never quite got Snoop Dogg to perform and Will Ferrell never went streaking through the quad to the gymnasium. Tired of the party scene, Newkirk rebranded LBPP in March of 2012 with a new focus, covering what he considers to be an overlooked and undervalued Long Beach live music scene.

“The type of musicians that are here are diverse and talented and plentiful and I think a lot of times people don’t realize that and that’s the reason why we do what we do,” Newkirk said.

The tireless blogging, album reviews and promoting of local bands landed LBI and Newkirk the fortuitous partnership with the Federal Bar’s subterranean music venue, the medium-sized space he felt the city has been yearning for. Now he only hopes that The Getdown series will be mutually beneficial, both for the local artists working hard to be heard and to the city, as the potential for live music as an economic driver could be made apparent with the success of the Federal Underground.

Newkirk thinks that the Federal Underground could be a good first step toward transforming Long Beach from mere background-noise between the Orange County and Los Angeles venues into capturing the city deserved recognition for its musical achievements, but he admits that’s all farther down the road.

Other area bars are experimenting with the idea of implementing local music nights in Downtown district, too. Harvelle’s recently announced their own local-music night to be held every Monday. Stimulating the city’s interest in live music, regardless of where it’s hosted, is a good thing and Newkirk is hopeful that residents will reciprocate by showing support to the area artists.

“I really think we’re going to bring in some great Long Beach talent and really showcase local bands and hopefully the local community comes out,” Newkirk said. “That’s really what it comes down to. Everyone complains that there aren’t enough places to play, they’re cheap or aren’t cool…I feel like the Federal Underground will be that place.”

The first Getdown features Fathers & Suns and Squarefish, Thursday, April 3, 8PM. Federal Bar is located at 102 Pine Ave. For more information, visit knittingfactory.com

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