There's a good chance if you know a musician from Long Beach, he or she is in at least two other bands. The aural incestuousness and the spirit of collaboration are two traits needed to thrive in this scene. And with that attitude comes one of the more diverse scenes the country has to offer. You want psych/punk/hip-hop/whatever? You'll find it here. In fact, a new collective of local artists is using its collaborative skills to spoon-feed you a taste of the sound rattling the walls of some favorite local venues.
On a recent Tuesday night, Freddie Dilworth and Tyler Berg, the founders of the collective Long Beach Compilations, stand outside a packed show they organized at 4th Street Vine wine bar. Collecting tips throughout the night, their goal was to raise funds for the first volume of their compilation series, the MIXTAPE project. It features 15 bands from around LBC, mostly their friends or bands they've been fans of for years.
One of those bands is the Vespertines, a furiously talented, prog-laden rock troupe who Dilworth started following in 2009 while a freshman at Cal State Long Beach. He remembers liking them so much he was willing to part with $5 to buy their EP after only seeing them for a few minutes in the quad.
"I was so used to going to shows where friends were just giving their music away for free, but as I was holding it, I was like, 'Yeah, this is worth $5–much more than $5,'" Dilworth says. Through his project with Berg, he's excited to showcase even more talent that he's fallen in love with over the years. But it doesn't end there. Utilizing their network of eclectic musicians, Dilworth and Berg have begun assembling new bands and artists from various genres, including folk, pop, hip-hop and electronic.
The notion of inclusion and community is something that speaks to Berg, a native Minnesotan who moved here four years ago before starting his power trio rock band These Are Villains. He remembers his band–which includes vocalist Sadie Jones and drummer Max Cogert–being welcomed into the scene right away with many of the bands he's now helping to get heard. "I never really felt like much of a community guy, but since I moved to Long Beach, that changed really quickly," Berg says. "I went from being a super-loner to wanting to be a part of this thing and push it forward."
Recently, Long Beach Compilations has taken up residence at 4th Street Vine to throw fund-raiser shows for the compilation (released digitally back in May). The shows are free, with a request for you to donate whatever money you've got burning a hole in your wallet. All of the funds go directly toward putting out CDs and cassettes. That includes money they get from raffles at the shows, featuring prizes from local businesses who gladly contribute free swag to the cause.
The June 16 show will feature performances from Doctor KA, Big Sun and Dilworth's band the Barrelhousers. Recently, Dilworth and Berg say word of the compilations has spread well beyond their insular circle of musician friends, as bands they've never heard of before have begun hitting them up to be in the MIXTAPE series. With the first one barely under their belts, it's a reminder of how much their city's music scene wants to share itself with the world in any way possible.
"There's a certain amount of pressure that comes with that, but I feel honored that so many talented people want to be a part of the project," Dilworth says. "It feels much bigger than us promoting our own bands."
MIXTAPE vol. 1 release show, hosted by Long Beach Compilations and featuring Doctor KA, Big Sun and the Barrelhousers, at 4th Street Vine, 2142 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 343-5463; www.4thstreetvine.com. Tues., 7 p.m. Free; donations accepted. 21+. For more info on Long Beach Compilations, visit www.facebook.com/longbeachcompilations.