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KUCI’s Sam Farzin takes the term ‘college rock’ literally
Fifteen to 20 years ago, UC Irvine was the setting for a number of notable concerts, ranging from auditorium-packing appearances (Sonic Youth, the Cocteau Twins, Tori Amos) to smaller sets and free noontime shows (Drive Like Jehu, Unrest, the Melvins). Infamously, a Green Day performance was canceled because of too much moshing during the opening acts.
While bigger bands still make the occasional appearance, it’s only recently that the campus has made a name for itself with underground acts—and the lion’s share of credit goes to Sam Farzin, a KUCI DJ and current music director.
Whether detailing how his interest in music was sparked in high school by the commercial breakthrough of the White Stripes or the learning curve involved in putting on shows or dealing with agents, Farzin is animated, as though he wants to talk about as many things as possible in as short a period of time as he can.
“I’d see where bands were playing in Southern California and think to myself, ‘Hey, they’re playing at UCLA, they’re playing UCSD ?. . . why aren’t they playing UCI?’” ?he recalls.
Instead of simply wishing they’d show up, Farzin took his enthusiasm to the next level. “In junior year, I started thinking about it, especially after going to [legendary underground LA club] the Smell. ‘Can I use anywhere on campus? What are the rules and regulations?’” he says. “It was out of everybody’s comfort zone, so nobody wanted to do anything about it.”
Farzin is also the main force behind the nearly year-old Acrobatics Everyday, a UCI club that doubles as a campus-specific booking agency/show promoter. “Last December, I saw a flier for a show in a classroom on campus, so I got in touch with the guy who put it on, Jeff Kile—we met up a bunch of times, and it turned out he had done some shows at UC Santa Cruz before he transferred here,” Farzin says.
“Around that time, I saw [noted DJ] Dan Deacon was coming, and I thought nothing could be more perfect than Dan Deacon to kick off something. So I got in touch with him, and he said it sounded good and to talk to his agent, so we set up a show in January. People said it wasn’t going to work—it was going to be four days after school started, what are we going to do for advertising, nobody’s going to come . . . But 400 people came! That made me think this is something I could keep doing.”
With that as a start, Farzin, with help from Kile and other friends, has booked a wide range of performers, from the spare instrumental folk and flamenco guitar of Peter Walker to the Tuvan throat-singing group Chirgilchin, as well as such indie-rock up-and-comers as the Mae Shi, Parts and Labor, Thao Nguyen and Ponytail.
Farzin’s frank about the missteps and frustrations he’s been through, but he’s ultimately positive about the from-the-ground-up work he has overseen, which continues to produce rewards.
“Whenever there’s a show and it’s a big show and people are having fun, it’s exciting,” he says. “People ask, how do you do this? Well, I ask the bands! It’s hard, but it’s not hard. That’s all it takes.”
Visit Acrobatics Everyday online at www.acrobaticseveryday.com.