Spring is all about chillin’ under the Santa Barbara sun, vibing to the right jams and appreciating the good life we tend to live here.
The Isla Vista Community Relations Committee, the Associated Students Program Board and the External Vice President for Local Affairs hosted the seventh annual Chilla Vista Festival in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park and People’s Park behind Silvergreens and Embarcadero Hall.
The event ran from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and featured many local I.V. musicians and bands along with a number of tabling organizations. Games and activities were held, artwork was created and displayed and People Under the Stairs headlined at 5 p.m. That’s right. The well-known hip hop duo from Los Angeles, comprised of Thes One and Double K, appeared live on stage for the early hours of the evening. It was clear attendees were beyond stoked for it.
But before we get to the main act, let’s talk about the earlier ones.
Hana Kim, an independent vocalist and pianist also from L.A., was supposed to start the show at noon with a 15 minute set, but due to a power supply issue, the music didn’t officially begin until about 12:30 p.m. Once she did come on, Hana serenaded the audience with her smooth, soulful voice and impressive piano playing.
The group Antler Velvet & Dale Bachman followed her and performed to an ecstatic crowd of fans and friends who were inked with body writing in support of their beloved Dale. They performed a few of their own works including a unique rendition of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” with strong vocals from their lead singer/guitarist. They even invoked a cheer for encores, but were not allowed one due to performance regulations.
Other notable performances included many local artists such as Finger Folk, Givers and Takers, Sand Section, Willie J and others. Of these many bands, a fair amount incorporated a similar style and sound in their performances — i.e. harmonicas, washboards, guitars and “wood knocking” for percussion.
Regardless of the instruments used, I.V. residents were getting down with the organic sounds they heard. Every hour, when another band came on to play, a new crowd would form and dancing would commence — hippie dancing, to be exact, reminiscent of the hippie dancing popularized at Woodstock back in ’69. Some guests had on body paint, but it was the disoriented arm flailing and wild head bobbing that defined the dance. Anyway, they were having a good time. With the Associated Students spending roughly $20,000 in student fees for the event, the crowd had every right to.
As the sun made its way west, the crowd was getting antsy for People Under the Stairs. Willie J — who performed right before — hyped up the audience with some of his raps often making anarchist references and openly condemning the police in the community, or as he acknowledged them, “the pigs.”
From there on out, the festival’s ambience changed for the worse, at least for police and staff organizers. As soon as P.U.T.S. took the stage, the crowd roared with ferocious energy and embraced them with a Santa Barbara welcome.
Thes One rallied the crowd first, while Double K managed the turntable, pumping them up with some stage shout-backs. Giving a shout out to the city of L.A. and making a short speech in its honor, the duo finally moved upstage together and rapped over their classic “L.A. Song,” while onlookers cheered. They performed “Montego Slay,” “Acid Raindrops,” “July 3rd” and “San Francisco Knights,” as well as many other throwbacks from their earlier albums. During “Acid Raindrops” clouds of smoke began forming over the gathering of bodies and the pervasive smell of weed filled the air.
At many points during the performance, members of the crowd jumped up on stage to no resistance from Thes One and Double K. Police had to step in and regulate the commotion, even having to make a few arrests. About half an hour into their set, for example, one female spectator was escorted from the crowd by police, hoisted on stage and taken away through the back. This was received with overwhelming cries of “boo” from many festival attendees.
As the show went on, Thes continued to invite spectators up on stage — girls, mostly — causing A.S. staffers undue stress. Finally, P.U.T.S.’s set was cut off early. The audience, obviously not pleased, shouted insults and obscenities at the staff as well as the police for ruining their good time. Attitudes were aggressive towards authorities to say the least.
People Under the Stairs made their departure soon after to head back to L.A. I.V. locals had left the park by then and A.S. organizers and outside volunteers had begun the clean-up process.
My only criticism of the event is that authorities should find a better way of dealing with the crowds, rather than pulling the plug on a live show that people are really into. But overall, it was a great Chilla Vista.
For the Artsweek interview with P.U.T.S.’s Thes One and Double K, check out www.dailynexus.com.