It’s always a challenge to figure out the best strategy to experience Day of Music Fullerton. Ever since this writer first introduced OC Weekly’s readers to the concept of the international Fête de la Musique, in 2015, it has been an annual adventure to discover new ways to explore what goes on in Fullerton on the summer solstice, when the global event always occurs. In the past, my experience has usually been a combination of using the festival’s web page, another OC Weekly writer’s recommendations, or just hit the ground running blindly to see, hear, and photograph all of the musical acts and events I could — until I’d burn out at some point in the late afternoon. This year, when June 21 rolled around, I thought I’d switch it up a bit and start my DoMF adventure at the time when I’d usually fizzle out.
After doing my preliminary research, I compiled a strategy for navigating a cross-section of Downtown Fullerton so as to experience a nice variety of evening acts. My adventure started at Black Hole, where a punk rock band called Love Canal was scheduled to play at 6:00 pm. After parking at the SOCO District parking structure, I wandered over to Black Hole to see their parking lot stage being swept and disassembled. The set had been cancelled. No time to fret!
My next destination was across Harbor, at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Since my first appointment was a bust, I had some time before my next scheduled appointment, so I followed my ears to Slidebar Rock n’ Roll Kitchen, from where some garage-sounding music was emanating. There was a sizable crowd at Slidebar, and I couldn’t see the band performing, so I asked the two hostesses which band was playing. They shook their heads and one of them said, “We don’t know; it’s like a school of rock kid’s band.” Later, I searched for details and found that Slidebar wasn’t on the roster of businesses participating in Day of Music Fullerton. Oh well, it was an amusing diversion.
At 6:30, an indie-rock act called Marble Blue was scheduled to perform on the upstairs, outdoor patio at Old Spaghetti. So, there I sat, reading a copy of The Fullerton Observer and feeling a little deflated that the issue didn’t have a column by its regular contributor Jon Dobrer. Before I realized it, a young man had nonchalantly sat down on a chair, had begun strumming a Fender, and had started crooning in a shaky tenor voice. This was Marble Blue. The act wasn’t exactly what I’d expected; I was thinking it would be a handful of deshevled-looking, flannel-wearing 20-30 somethings playing angsty music. Perhaps this was the stripped down version of the band, as their Facebook page shows three members. In any event, as the lad performed covers of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and Otis Redding’s “The Dock of fhe Bay,” I couldn’t help but imagine that this intimate little concert would be equally at home echoing through the hallway of an apartment building filled with students — with the music coming from that apartment, where that one guy with long hair and a guitar lives.
The next stop was Bourbon Street. Twas 7:00 pm, when a jazz quartet called The Bradford Project began a very classy set of music. Sandwiched in between a television set (with ESPN2 on) and the bar, these fellas made great use of their little space, and, admittedly, it was difficult to tear myself away when the time came for me to see what else the evening had to offer. As fate [or Fête ] would have it, just as I stepped out of the bar, I found myself in the pathway of the Boombox Parade. This procession consisted of a few dozen people holding either functional or decorative boomboxes. I ran along side of them for a block or so, snapping photos as they crossed Commonwealth en route to the Downtown Fullerton Plaza. In classic parade fashion, after the main procession had passed by, and I was checking my schedule to see where to go next, one more boombox came scrambling along, looking for the rest of the pack; that is, this parader was dressed as a boombox. This little boombox was none other than Corky Nepomuceno, who owns Fullerton Foundry and who is the executive director of Day of Music Fullerton. After pointing in the direction where her procession had gone, she hustled on her way, and I ambled on mine.
As I headed toward my next destination, Pour Company (on Wilshire), I realized I had a minute to pop into Half Off Books, where I can usually find a decently priced, used DVD or Blu-ray. Alas, my access to the “I” section [I’ve been on the lookout for a used copy of Iron Man 3 for a while] was obstructed by a charming concert by Ukulele Jukebox-USA, who were performing a variety of folk and rock songs. I joined the decent-sized crowd for a few minutes before shuttling on my way.
While exiting the premises, I was stopped by a man wanting to know how to get in on the journalism game. I told him the sad truth that times were not good for journalists, but if he were interested in working for free (or for micro-peanuts), there were plenty of publications that would surely give him his big break. Ironically, the next act I saw appeared to be a busker, who was playing his guitar in the alleyway just outside of Lucero Photography. I reflected upon what I had just told the wannabe photojournalist and wondered if my income during next year’s DoMF will be earned by opening up my guitar case and busking somewhere.
Finally, I made it to Pour Company, where my next scheduled act, Swamp Bucket, was already in full swing. This duo consisted of one man playing percussion (congos and bongos, mostly) and another on guitar and voice. The voice was very deep and gravely, and the outfit’s raw and stripped-down renditions of rock and punk tunes was irresistible. From the moment they performed “God Save the Queen,” by The Sex Pistols, they had won the crowd, which was mostly a mix of aging punk rockers and uptown girls.
Bringing it on home, I stopped in at Comic Book Hideout, where a group with the colorful name Aloha From Hell was getting ready to play. Since the program was a bit behind schedule, I had a chance to browse the racks for any new and interesting titles. [Damn! Still no Batman: Earth One Volume 3]. When the moment arrived, the five members of Aloha From Hell, who were dressed — to varying degrees — in Hawaiian garb, began their set, which was a stomping hybrid of punk, rock, and…island, I suppose (what with the slide guitar, and all). Their colorful act was definitely a good fit for the Hideout.
When I wandered back out into the evening, again, I could hear the sounds of music coming from all directions. Various groups of people followed their itineraries or stomachs to the venues that would provide them with their next musical tastes (and / or meals) of the day. The atmosphere on this Friday night was not dissimilar from that which might be felt wandering around a university campus on a festive Friday evening. There was simply a party in every direction. And on it went…