San Diego IndieFest

By: Marc Emmelmann

“San Diego IndieFest celebrates independent music, art, business and thought.” – Danielle LoPresti

Danielle LoPresti
Danielle LoPresti

IndieFest is turning SEVEN on March 12th – the year is commonly thought of as significant for change or even rebirth. In the business culture, this milestone predicts future sustainability: if your business makes it past seven successful years, you have a very high likelihood for long term success.  This sentiment perked up the ears of IndieFest creators and producers of all things indie in San Diego, Danielle LoPresti and Alicia Champion.  This well-respected team chimed in recently, “We are professional musicians, not professional producers. This festival was built from an artist’s perspective and it’s the first of its kind that is exclusively independent. Every musical act, for example, is either unsigned or on an independent label.”

No worries about this challenge to change, making a bit of a difference in their ability to manage your festival experience. They have a track record of creating amazing grassroots festivals for six years — for independent-minded individuals, by independent minded individuals.  It’s certainly applicable to their 2011 “No Safety in Sameness” theme.

LoPresti and Champion didn’t realize the significance of all the changes happening in the seventh year, but I can’t blame them for turning a blind eye. I prefer to keep low expectations in the way of mysticism, but when it comes to the business research, those statistics are something to think about! Regardless, IndieFest producers have been doing exactly what they’ve set their minds to. They’ve successfully overcome previous challenges, so they won’t have capacity issues this year (unless it’s like Woodstock); there will be an abundance of parking and plenty of cushy green grass to relax on.

Here’s a small sneak peek into this year’s eclectic music lineup: We Are Scientists and AWOLNATION are headlining. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actor-turned-musician, James Marsters, and the group Love Darling (which contributed the theme song to the Showtime TV series “The Real L Word”) will be present along with Danielle LoPresti & The Masses, Republic of Letters, Black Party Politics and Vokab Kompany. They’ll all be performing on the Durga Sound Main Stage that is presented by 91X. Also, a birdie told me Monette Marino Keita and Vanna Prasta are not to be missed. Genres this year include Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop, House, Folk, Latin, World, Country, Funk, Punk, Jazz, and Electronica. For the full line up and schedule, visit

Vokab Kompany
Vokab Kompany

Danielle LoPresti, also of Danielle LoPresti & The Masses, recently shared, “The whole movement inherent in IndieFest is an organic fit with the culture that is NUG Magazine. IndieFest is a place for those who know all too well how polluted mainstream culture is by corporate greed and apathy. Our goal is to turn folks onto the goodness that lies outside the herd mentality. There will be music, film, art, ideas, interactive activities, trees, bay and lots of space to come and be filled by the IndieFest experience.  Everywhere you go is one example after another of brilliant artists, businesses, activists and thinkers who’ve found a way to manifest their vision with little-to-no backing. These are the entities we rarely, if ever, see in mainstream venues. We want to showcase those unique groups that make up the alternative culture in our community and do what we can to help inspire support for them. We don’t want strip mall culture everywhere we look. We want to see San Diego’s cultural uniqueness and its independent entrepreneurship thriving.  There has been an immense movement toward corporatism as of late, so it’s that much more important that we light a fire of awareness that helps independent people, businesses, artists and thinkers thrive, not just survive. Oh yeah, and NUG Mag readers are extra-welcome!”

The new festival location might just be one great embodiment of their 2011 “No Safety in Sameness” mantra. Previously held in the heart of North Park on University between 29th & Granada St., you might think IndieFest, which represents all things indie and independent, would be oxymoronic to happen at the NTC Promenade in Liberty Station (OK, the cat is out of the bag!). Point Loma and Liberty Station (2640 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106) is an area often associated with conservatism, but what is that anymore? You may be wondering, “Is Liberty Station reflective of the indie movement?” After talking to LoPresti and Champion, I realized they made a very smart and methodological decision to move to Liberty Station. I admitted that I needed some convincing, but after contemplating the reputation of Liberty Station, its iconic American imagery and the strong creative vibe is already there; it’s home to Dance Place, the Actors Alliance, ARTS: A Reason to Survive,  San Diego Dance Theatre, and Capoeira Brasil to name a few! I agreed that it’s a great place to grow IndieFest! It’s also a great place to add some more credibility to that area’s philosophical/artistic premise.

Republic Letters
Republic of Letters

It’s been said that the demise of Street Scene will benefit IndieFest, but for LoPresti and Champion, it’s comparing apples and oranges. LoPresti said, “Street Scene was a totally different kind of festival that focused on national and international acts, whereas IndieFest is all about promoting a collection of artists coming together to say, ‘Hey world, look!’ There’s scores of amazing bands, films and artists out there that aren’t famous, but are every bit as good as those who are. Come to IndieFest and discover them! Street Scene was about the biggest names, IndieFest is the rising up of the little guy.” Champion followed up with, “We’re here to shine light on really deserving groups, but just haven’t had the luck, the fate, or the investors that the biggest names in popular music and film have had. We also want to inspire people by showing them how exciting an event can be even if you don’t have the big name backing it. We’re sad that Street Scene isn’t coming back, and we have enormous empathy for them since we know how gnarly it gets to pull everything off to produce a festival.”

The theme of IndieFest this year, “No Safety in Sameness”, was inspired by local indie press man John Rippo. Rippo has been influencing LoPresti and Champion for quite some time. His message was this: “Fortunately, not everyone is willing to abide by the notions of safety in sameness. The people who push the creative envelope, whether in art, music, politics, or even business, do their fellow man a great service by adding facets of what’s possible in life.”

IndieFest is not a left or right fest, it’s for those who think for themselves, who are open to alternative energy, alternative anything, and medicinal alternatives too!  IndieFest has a lot of thoughtful reasons behind it. One of these reasons is posted on their website: “Big used to matter. Big meant power, profit, and growth. Today, little companies often make more money than big companies. Small means the founder is close to the decisions that matter and can make them quickly.  Small is the new big only when the person running the small company thinks big. Don’t wait. Get small. Think big”.  ~Seth Godin, Small is The New Big, Portfolio, 2006

We Are Scientists
We Are Scientists

If you’ve read this far, you might be interested in the following random, but factual festival details: IndieFest is for all ages. Kids 12 & under are FREE! Pets are welcome; however, they must be leashed. Clothe yourself in layers because it might get chilly from the wind off the bay. There will be shady spots for fair skinned mates and sheilas.  1,000 people will not get turned away this year because the new location is HUGE! IndieFest is rain or shine. The Beer Garden will serve hard liquor for the first time. Great indie products like jewelry will be for sale. There will be a half pipe with skaters performing. There will be free stages for those hit hardest by the current economic climate. There will be an Artist Mixer on Friday, March 11th, at Humphrey’s Music Club; it is open to the general public ($10 door, Ages 21+). The fabulous downtown Sofia Hotel is their hotel sponsor this year; a very boutique and independent hotel offering deals for IndieFest attendees. 91X FM is the official radio sponsor again! After 91X left their Clear Channel contract in 2005, they have been uber supportive of IndieFest. “They will be broadcasting live from the festival and we love them. They are TRULY an independent station.” says LoPresti. “They don’t just say they’re independent, they actually are.”

This is a NON-PROFIT event; better yet, a “SOCIAL-PROFIT” event. All the proceeds will be going to RESULTS / Results Educational Fund, which focuses on ending poverty in the United States and worldwide. Not only has their announcement of a new festival location caused heads to turn, but their addition of new kid activities and two full days of film screenings are noteworthy. There will be more grass, more shade, more music, more films, more parking, more space, and free art classes, which will be held at the WaterColor Stage and the Expressive Arts Institute, just above the ARTS Stage. This year’s IndieFest is more “festival” than ever!

IndieFest – if it was a poker game, I’d be all in! NUG Mag will be there too, so come and say hello and grab a free goodie at our booth!  It’s right in your backyard and much cheaper than other festivals that beckon you from deserts and other cities. Get connected to IndieFest online at General Admission is $25.  Get your social media fix at: and

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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