Show Preview: Awesome Fest 666 – at The Soda Bar – San Diego, CA – August 31 – September 3, 2012

August 24, 2012

Interview by: Kendra Sheetz
Big Wheel Contributor

On Friday August 31st, 400 people and somewhere around 70 bands will descend on North Park, a small bar filled neighborhood in San Diego, for the Awesome Fest.  The festival, which is in its 6th year, features bands ranging from smaller local favorites to more well known heavy hitters, from SoCal natives to international acts.  

The four day gathering is put on by Razorcake, It’s Alive Records, The Party’s Over Productions, Muy Authentico Records, The Slumber Party’s Over Productions, and Fast Crowd Records.  I sat down with Marty Ploy (of The Party’s Over Productions) and Christina Zamora (of the Slumber Party’s Over Productions) to chat about the festival’s humble beginnings, this year’s lineup, and what I will be getting myself into next weekend

How long have you been promoting and what got you into this line of work?

M: I’ve been doing shows for a little over thirteen years off and on.  I started booking when living in Tupelo, MS where I did a small handful of shows with bands like Pezz (Memphis, TN) and the Grumpies (Starkville, MS).  When I moved to Riverside, CA I was hangin’ at a bar called Babylon a lot and knew a few bands and was really cool with everyone that worked there.  So, the opportunity happened when I was allowed to book a couple bands for a Brit pop/80s night called Disposable Pop.  Well, I booked a thrash band from Riverside called Rogue State and a grind/black metal band called Nihilium, or something like that.  Obviously it was not the right time or place for it, but it went well enough that I was asked if I would like to book Sunday matinee shows.  It was hard to draw but, I pulled it together and did some stuff.  Then they let me work myself into a weeknight and I started getting into it; around this time was when Myspace was starting, so it was much more accessible to hear bands and search for bands in the area to book.  This was about ten years ago. 

C: I’ve been booking shows for about seven years, I think.  I got into doing shows ‘cause Marty was moving to Austin, TX and he still had a handful of shows out here in Moreno Valley/Riverside that needed taking care of.  The Slumber Party’s Over Productions was born.  Originally The Slumber Party’s Over involved me and the lovely Jenny 15 (Jenny Kensler).  We ran the show Marty had booked at this place called Cheers in Moreno Valley.  Then I just started booking up a storm and Jenny and I would run them together.  Then Jenny started tour managing and hitting the road a lot so it ended up just being me.  I ran a record store called Glass House Records in Pomona.  It was owned by the Glass House concert hall, so I started booking all ages DIY shows there… fun times!  And well, it all sky rocketed from there. 


How did Awesome Fest come about?  Was it a always a collaborative effort?

M: The first Awesome Fest was an accident of sorts.  I was booking for a bar in Riverside back in 2007 and I got hit up by Jwang from Dan Padilla/Fast Crowd Records about a new band that featured members of the Copyrights and at the time Off With Their Heads, named Dear Landlord.  They hadn’t released anything yet, but there was some hype behind this band for sure.  I started getting hit up by all sorts of the bands people love in SoCal like Todd C (Underground Railroad to Candyland) and a lot of others.  When I started on the flyer for the show, I came across a photo of my friend Matty Awesome that I really liked and wanted to use it as the flyer picture.  As time went by, it started getting to be a pretty big lineup and I got this idea to put “Matty” all small then “AWESOME” really big with “FEST” after it.  That’s how Awesome Fest got the name. 

C: Well, its exactly what Marty said… it started with him, Matty Awesome, and Riverside.  It was all Marty for the first year and then Razorcake helped out for the second year.  J and Corinne took it under their wing for AF3 and moved it to North Park in San Diego.  They did an amazing job.  Then when it came to AF4, they were pretty exhausted with taking care of AF3, so the ball landed in our hands.  I got involved when it was AF4 and have been a part of it ever since.


Awesome Fest is in it’s 6th year.  With tickets selling out over a month ago, what changes, if any, have you noticed that has lead to the festival’s growing popularity?

M: I don’t see much change-wise about Awesome Fest except its more known about now. And every person I’ve met that has come to Awesome Fest, swears it is their single favorite fest they have been to or a part of, which is a hefty opinion with all the fests there are all over the world.  It makes me very grateful and honored to be a part of something that is looked forward to by so many people from all over the world.  I couldn’t imagine or even want to work with anyone else than the amazing people that help put this on.

C: I don’t think there’s any change with it selling out as fast as it had.  This was the fastest year ever though.  We still follow the same criteria and format from years before.  Its non-profit and we do it for the love of the scene and music.  More folks definitely know about the AF and that’s rad!  Every year we just try and outdo the previous lineup and try to make it just a little bit better.

What makes Awesome Fest stand out from the other summer festivals such as FYF?

M: Well, we are nothing like any other festival I’ve ever heard of.  We are a not-for-profit fest and we will never use corporate sponsors of any kind to raise money/make money.  We don’t over sell the thing.  We only sell 400 passes; that way we assure there will be VERY little or no lines to get into the shows and its pretty easy to get a drink and very close together venues so no long hauls.  We also make it so if you’re feeling up to the challenge, you can catch every single band of the fest if you feel like running back and forth from the venues.  I don’t know.  It’s the best thing I’ve ever been a part of and I’m so proud of everyone involved. 

C: Well AF stands out because its so posi and “awesome”.  I mean you can ask most folks who have attended previous years and they will say that it is one of the friendliest, most welcoming fests they’ve ever been to.  High fives all around; high five-ing strangers in the streets.  Its just something that you cant quite understand until you’ve gone.  We don’t use corporate sponsors and never will.  We all strongly believe in that.  Its for the love of music and the scene.


What are the top 3 bands you are most excited to see this year and why?

M: This year I am very excited to see Sass Dragons (Chicago).  This band has been one of my favorites for many years and the fact they were down to play got me hyped as hell!  I booked them at 12th & G (RIP warehouse Chino) when I was living in San Diego a couple years back and missed them due to work.  I was broken when I heard they broke up and I never got to see them; so yea, that’s for sure the most I’m looking forward to.  Another band I’m very excited to see is Divers from Portland, OR.  I’ve been obsessed with their first release on Rumbletown Records, a 7” that just blows 90% of all music out of the water.  The singer for the band is my friend Harrison who I have been doing shows with over the years through his old band Drunken Boat pdx.  They will impress you! The last of the three bands I’m super excited about are of course The Bananas, because The Bananas are the single greatest live band I’ve ever seen, not to watch but the energy in the room when they played AF5 was unimaginable and indescribable.  If you were there you know EXACTLY what I mean.  If you weren’t then DO NOT MISS their set this year.  I don’t know who is playing at the same time, but there is not a single band on this bill that will put on even half as good of a show as this band.  Quote me on that!

C: I think the bands I’m most excited to see are Masked Intruder, Siren Songs, and Shell Shag!  FUCK YES!  I’m stoked for these bands.

This is going to be my first year at Awesome Fest.  What am I getting into?  Any words of advice for this first timer?

M: Pace yourself!  Travel light!  Drink LOTS of water!  Eat at Luigi’s Pizza!  Give Marty hugs!

C: It’s your first time?! Gurrrl, all I can say is pace yourself and drink LOTS of water!  It gets crazy and out of control.  It’s a level of awesome, good times you’ve never experienced!  Having friends from all over the country, shit… even the world (‘cause its gone international the last few years) in town for three days and then all the new friends you’re gonna make!  Its just amazing and a bit overwhelming.

What is your fondest Awesome Fest story or memory?

M: I really don’t have an answer for that.  This festival is constantly giving me the fondest memories.  I love seeing all the friends I’ve made over the years.  I love making new friends.  I love the gratefulness of people that travel from all over the world and spend thousands of dollars to make sure their trip to the US is a really good time.  The people that come up to me on the last day and commend what we have done and tell you how they’ve never had such a good time is what means the most to me.  That’s what this scene is about - community and family and supporting one another and praising the accomplishments of one another.  I CANT WAIT!!!

C: Fondest memory?  Dang, I’m not even sure… there’s too many to list.  I should write a fucking book of all the good/crazy times for all six AFs.  Just get stoked ‘cause we ain’t going anywhere.  This fest is as rad as it gets.  And the fact that I get to work on this with some of my favorite people ever, well that’s just awesome for me..


At this time, festival tickets are sold out.  However, there are pre and post fest shows (in both San Diego and LA) with availability. You can get in touch with either booker through Facebook.  Marty can be contacted at “The Party’s Over Productions”.  Christina can be reached at “The Slumber Party’s Over Productions”.



















Bookmark and Share

Go HERE to check out more interviews


Send your comments to the editor HERE