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Indie city

Brooklyn indie band Bear Hands headlines this year’s IndieFest.
Brooklyn indie band Bear Hands headlines this year’s IndieFest.

After taking 2014 off, the music and arts street fair IndieFest returns in a new location, City Heights Urban Village (3795 Fairmount Avenue), on March 28. The event started in 2004 as San Diego Indie Music Fest, located in Bankers Hill. Following a four-year run on the streets of North Park, the most recent editions were held at Liberty Station.

Past Event

San Diego IndieFest

  • Saturday, March 28, 2015, noon to 11 p.m.
  • City Heights Urban Village

Organized by City Heights–based musician/promoters and partners Danielle LoPresti and Alicia Champion, the event is being downsized in its new home. Previous editions of IndieFest had up to seven stages; this year there will be three. Additionally, the event is returning to springtime after its two-year summer run at Liberty Station.

“While Liberty Station was beautiful and expansive, we lost some of the culture and diversity that we cultivated all those years prior,” LoPresti tells the Reader. Though exact figures were unavailable, attendance was down significantly for the 2013 event, but she notes that she and Champion also had a lot of “life happen” in that time frame, having adopted a son, with LoPresti in the midst of battling mediastinal lymphoma. “We were neck deep in chemotherapy at that time,” said Champion. “By the end of IndieFest 8, we walked away having learned a very powerful, albeit painful lesson — we had been growing slowly, summer was definitely not the time for an event like ours and we’d actually made a pretty decent choice all those years making it the first big music and arts event of the calendar year.”

The pair took 2014 off to decide if they wanted to continue. “Producing this nonprofit project while working as full-time musicians was no party. But doing it now as moms was hardcore painful. So, we narrowed it down to one question: ‘Can we find a way to make producing IndieFest sustainable?’” LoPresti said. “That’s when we had the idea of scaling way down and moving the event to our own ’hood of City Heights.”

According to Champion, the event is run with a staff of 25 with 150 volunteers. At least 50 percent of the acts booked each year are local. “It’s a big part of showing folks how much talent is right here in our own city,” she said.

The first event featured rock, hip-hop, world, punk, jazz, and country, “but there’s lots more ways to embrace diversity than via musical genre,” LoPresti remarked. “We endeavor to book more female artists than most events because women are sorely under-represented in the industry, and when they are represented, there’s still such a strong bias toward the stock sex symbol. The same goes for artists of color, gay artists, and older artists who are often passed over because there’s still this antiquated bias toward youth in our culture that quite frankly is just sad.”

IndieFest uses the Sonicbids process to book talent, which charges $10 per submission. While some artists don’t like the idea of paying a fee to be considered to perform, Champion points out there are additional perks to submitting beyond IndieFest. “It really helps to have our artists organized this way, because what a lot of people don’t know is that we continue to book artists for all kinds of gigs all year long by sourcing our past eight years of Sonicbids submissions. We have also been able to help artists score placements on shows like Glee, including Megan Jane and Sherri Soto.”

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Brooklyn indie band Bear Hands headlines this year’s IndieFest.
Brooklyn indie band Bear Hands headlines this year’s IndieFest.

After taking 2014 off, the music and arts street fair IndieFest returns in a new location, City Heights Urban Village (3795 Fairmount Avenue), on March 28. The event started in 2004 as San Diego Indie Music Fest, located in Bankers Hill. Following a four-year run on the streets of North Park, the most recent editions were held at Liberty Station.

Past Event

San Diego IndieFest

  • Saturday, March 28, 2015, noon to 11 p.m.
  • City Heights Urban Village

Organized by City Heights–based musician/promoters and partners Danielle LoPresti and Alicia Champion, the event is being downsized in its new home. Previous editions of IndieFest had up to seven stages; this year there will be three. Additionally, the event is returning to springtime after its two-year summer run at Liberty Station.

“While Liberty Station was beautiful and expansive, we lost some of the culture and diversity that we cultivated all those years prior,” LoPresti tells the Reader. Though exact figures were unavailable, attendance was down significantly for the 2013 event, but she notes that she and Champion also had a lot of “life happen” in that time frame, having adopted a son, with LoPresti in the midst of battling mediastinal lymphoma. “We were neck deep in chemotherapy at that time,” said Champion. “By the end of IndieFest 8, we walked away having learned a very powerful, albeit painful lesson — we had been growing slowly, summer was definitely not the time for an event like ours and we’d actually made a pretty decent choice all those years making it the first big music and arts event of the calendar year.”

The pair took 2014 off to decide if they wanted to continue. “Producing this nonprofit project while working as full-time musicians was no party. But doing it now as moms was hardcore painful. So, we narrowed it down to one question: ‘Can we find a way to make producing IndieFest sustainable?’” LoPresti said. “That’s when we had the idea of scaling way down and moving the event to our own ’hood of City Heights.”

According to Champion, the event is run with a staff of 25 with 150 volunteers. At least 50 percent of the acts booked each year are local. “It’s a big part of showing folks how much talent is right here in our own city,” she said.

The first event featured rock, hip-hop, world, punk, jazz, and country, “but there’s lots more ways to embrace diversity than via musical genre,” LoPresti remarked. “We endeavor to book more female artists than most events because women are sorely under-represented in the industry, and when they are represented, there’s still such a strong bias toward the stock sex symbol. The same goes for artists of color, gay artists, and older artists who are often passed over because there’s still this antiquated bias toward youth in our culture that quite frankly is just sad.”

IndieFest uses the Sonicbids process to book talent, which charges $10 per submission. While some artists don’t like the idea of paying a fee to be considered to perform, Champion points out there are additional perks to submitting beyond IndieFest. “It really helps to have our artists organized this way, because what a lot of people don’t know is that we continue to book artists for all kinds of gigs all year long by sourcing our past eight years of Sonicbids submissions. We have also been able to help artists score placements on shows like Glee, including Megan Jane and Sherri Soto.”

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