Orange Fuzz Fest
American Legion Post 132
The inaugural Orange Fuzz Fest made its debut in the quaint vicinity of the Orange Circle Saturday afternoon, and although only a block away from the quiet antique stores and busy breweries, you'd never know a whole lot of fuzz was going on in American Legion Post 132.
As a festival created through DIY efforts by the May Company's May McDonough and Rusty Huber, OFF is geared towards embracing the intersection of psychedelic, garage, and punk music with art "for the modern psychonaut" with a roster of bands that includes Corners, Cosmonauts, Rudy De Anda, Sean Gospel N The Night Stalkers, and Bombon alongside a visual odyssey of trippy visual projections across every wall in the space.
With a solid line-up, spacious venue and elements of weird artistic wonderie going on, OFF would have been the kick-ass happening in town. But ten minutes away, Top Acid's manic four-stage showcase was taking over Santa Ana alongside the Blading Cup, Beat Swap Meet, Noche De Altares and Konsept Festival. Despite slick promotion in the form of video projections posted around Downtown SanTana, locals already had their November 7th reserved for the first Saturday artwalk at least a month in advance. Audience size at OFF was small, growing slowly throughout the day.
Despite the low turnout, there were some solid performances to come from each of the bands. Rudy De Anda kicked off the day's line-up with his sunny Spanish surf jams. Bombon rocked a surf-infused garage punk set, even though they confided that their singer was sick. Sean Gospel and the The Night Stalkers' fuzzed out punk music worked especially well with the superimposed projections that Meza Technologies crafted for them. And The May Company's garage rock raised the energy level in the audience, which by that point had swelled up to a good-sized crowd. Audience members also had fun throwing around the giant inflatable flamingo and banana balloons by the stage.
But the band whose sound really resonated with the visuals the most was Cosmonauts. Their heavily-distorted, spaced out songs perfectly synced up with every projection. It created a spectacular ambiance that enveloped the whole space, no doubt the effect McDonough and Huber intended in the first place. The final headliner, Corners, raged the hardest with their synthy garage rock stylings, influencing the now-sizable crowd to open up a mosh pit for audience members to dance and thrash around in.
While the music and audio elements of the fest delivered, it was hard to maintain attention and interest in the rest of the goings on. The 3-D visual projections from Meza Technologies and Santa Ana artist Sean Robertson, who supplied his installation of looped footage on multiple TV screens, filled the dark space with fantastical images across every wall. Mannequins, which were painted or dressed up by each band and displayed around the space, were also fun props to the scenery and gave a little bit of A Clockwork Orange's Korova milk bar feel. But in between (or even during) band performances, there wasn't much in the way of interactivity for the audience, considering that the large size of the venue allows it. Concerts are already passive experiences; an all-day concert with so much audio-visual stimulation is going to inspire anyone to need a break or something else to do.
What was even more puzzling was the fact that for an event that aimed to attract audience's attention all day, there weren't any food trucks or food options for people to eat. Old Towne Orange's dining options are mostly expensive sit-down restaurants, which takes cost a good chunk of change and time to enjoy. And for a fest whose aesthetic takes root in '60s psychedelia, why was the psychedelic liquid loop projection show not an option to include?
It's safe to say that the inaugural year of Orange Fuzz Fest went without much of a hitch, technically speaking. Organizers already have a good sense of what bands to book and tech-savvy artists to fulfill their intended effect. But it might take time for OFF to reach their desired demographic, in which case, they can only go up from here in making Orange Fuzz Fest the immersive and memorable trip they aimed it to be.