Droozie Lane (Freak Style Booking) and Jarrett Killen (Astro Lizard Records). Photo by Esther Kang.
If music were a religion, punk rock would be their denomination of choice.
For the first time, two Long Beach entities—Astro Lizard Records and Freak Style Booking—have joined forces to create an unprecedented celebration of punk rock, garage and beyond in an all-day, all-ages music festival that is generating buzz from as far away as San Diego.
Called Midnight Mass, the event on Saturday will showcase an impressive motley of 14 bands, ranging from punk legend Mike Watt and the Missingmen and skate icon Tony Alva and his band His Eyes Have Fangs, to LA-based Kim and the Created, San Francisco’s Useless Eaters, San Diego’s The Frights and OC’s Bombon. There’s a sprinkle of Long Beach in the lineup too, with Porch Party Record’s Rudy De Anda and Dustin Lovelis taking the stage.
MADhaus, the warehouse in downtown Long Beach where the festival will set up camp, is expected to reach its capacity of 600, with more than 300 pre-sale tickets already sold. Pabst Blue Ribbon and Tony Alva Skateboards are sponsoring the festival, and vendors include Shady Grove Foods, Porch Party Records, Broadway Pizza, Lo-Pie Magazine and Top Acid.
"One of the reasons why I’m such a fan of punk rock is that it’s original to the DIY ethos," said Droozie Lane, the 24-year-old mastermind of Freak Style Booking, which is celebrating its third anniversary. "[…] I’m sick of trying to be squeezed into this category and live my life a certain way."
This is the first show that Astro Lizard Records, the recording studio-turned-"mostly punk" cassette-digital label, is putting on. Founders Jarrett Killen and Brent Lindenmyer, both 29 and members of garage psych band Sister Crowley, said the idea stemmed from a learning experience earlier this year playing a DIY festival at a warehouse in LA.
"It was like 15 bands, but maybe one of them had any draw," Killen recalled about the disappointing turnout. "[Brent] and I looked at each other and we said, if we throw a fest, every band on the bill has to be outstanding."
Through mutual friend Zach Mabry, drummer for Porch Party’s Forest of Tongue, the pair connected with Lane, whose shows under Freak Style have made waves throughout Long Beach and Orange County. As it turned out, they shared an affinity for hardcore music and a vision of infiltrating Long Beach’s insulation with regional acts.
"I wanted to put Long Beach in the eyes of people who are more focused on things happening in LA or OC," Lane said. "Long Beach is that weird grey area—people don’t come here very often for big music events."
Lane, a drummer who fronts a new band called Cheap Cologne, grew up moshing at all-ages shows in the Inland Empire. When he moved to Long Beach in the fall of 2012, he threw a housewarming party featuring two IE bands.
Kim and the Created. Band photos courtesy of Jarrett Killen.
"Up to that point, I didn’t really know anyone in Long Beach," he said. "But with this, I had a catalyst. I realized I liked it and wanted to pursue it more."
Since, he has thrown some of the most memorable house shows to date. Rudy De Anda, frontman for psych-punk group Wild Pack of Canaries, debuted his solo project at one of them. Lane also went on to book shows at revered venues such as Santa Ana’s skate park/concert venue Unit B Studios, showcasing the likes of The Frights in their early days.
"That’s always been my thing—all ages, DIY shows," Lane said. "I grew up in an environment where that was what was accessible to me. If I had started going to shows at 21, I wouldn’t even be booking shows. You want the younger kids there because that’s the future."
Killen, a Santa Ana native, grew up playing in hardcore bands and was signed to Interscope Records at one point. After spending several years in Austin working at a recording studio and playing music, he moved out to Long Beach when the opportunity to open his own recording studio emerged, about five years ago. The studio is just short of a year since establishing itself as a label, already boasting a roster that includes San Francisco-based Dinosaurs and Tony Alva’s His Eyes Have Fangs.
"People always ask why Long Beach," Killen said. "I'm like, it’s just a raw fucking town."
"I’m thinking of it as the Long Beach gold rush," he said. "There’s an unspoken opportunity that is ready to be seized."
They’re already talking about establishing Midnight Mass as a company, complete with managing bands and tours and installing a brick-and-mortar flagship office. In addition to making the festival an annual event, they’re planning to showcase quarterly signature shows and broadening beyond the scope of punk rock.
"Don’t start small, go huge," Killen said, laughing. "If you think about it, in one day you can create a lot of waves rather than incrementally. There’s a lot of risk there, but if it goes as we hope,[...] there’s a lot of reward there too."
Above, left: Photo courtesy of Midnight Mass.