With Kanye headlining FYF and Tinariwen flying from West Africa to play Coachella, Southern California's most popular music festivals started as local rock and art fests but today sport increasingly diverse lineups.
Hustle, a new grassroots music festival happening for free this weekend at multiple venues across Long Beach, needs no conscious effort to incorporate multiple genres. Everyone on the three-day bill — from Mexican-American rapper 2Mex to psych-folk singer-songwriter Dustin Lovelis — comes from the city, which has spent the last 30 years as place where hip hop, rock, folk, jazz, funk and more all effortlessly mingle.
"The sound of Long Beach is everything. No boundaries," says Casey Terrazas, owner of Porch Party Records and one of Hustle's main founders.
After throwing house shows at his label's eponymous abode, The Porch, for years, Terrazas felt the itch to put together a DIY festival that would showcase all of Long Beach's hard-working musicians, from rappers to guitarists, many of which operate with limited opportunities and resources, especially compared to contemporaries in L.A.
While the city of Long Beach is becoming more supportive of live music in general and has increased free programming like Summer and Music and the Live After 5 series, most of the bands and artists that perform represent a narrow segment of the music being created there.
Terrazas found like-minded supporters for an eclectic festival of a different sort, like Jim Ritson (who owns wine bar 4th Street Vine), Falling Mirrors Collective (which has booked diverse shows of their own over the years), fellow house show hosts Long Beach Music Collective, the heavy-hitting Ghoulhouse Records and, lastly, Yourintimatenoise, which gathered a dozen local artists and photographers to exhibit their work throughout the weekend.
The result is a three-day, three-venue music festival that has no precedent, in Long Beach or elsewhere. Think: if SXSW in the early years met with an art walk at a warehouse show in a wine bar.
"Hustle stands on its own. It isn't modeled after any other festival because it isn't like any other festival," says Tokotah Ashcraft of Falling Mirrors Collective. "It's eclectic and diverse. It represents Long Beach as a whole. It's all heart."
"We wanted the sounds of the festival to represent the different flavors of our city," Terrazas adds. "To book the bands, we met with these diverse groups in town who have a reputation for killing it in their own unique way."
The result is a choose-your-own-adventure calendar of shows that gives attendees a snapshot of what Long Beach has to offer, both sonically and venue-wise.
Friday night is a hip-hop dance party headlined by 2Mex featuring some of the best local rappers at Signal 1883. Saturday brings a mix of funk (Bobby Blunders), electronic (Nice GuyxVinny), dreamy prog (Furcast) and more to an outdoor show at Bixby Park, right next to the ocean. The party moves to 4th Street Vine for a more intimate evening show featuring Dustin Lovelis and indie-pop acts. Sunday features an indie showcase by Long Beach Music Collective followed by an evening with punk-as-fuck Ghoulhouse Records.
"Hustle was created to keep Long Beach awesome," says Terrazas. "We want people to come together and have fun in the name of music and art."
Sarah Bennett is a freelance journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering food, music, craft beer, arts, culture and all sorts of bizarro things that interest her for local, regional and national publications.