The organizers of Fresno’s Catacomb Party have staged two wildly successful downtown events, if you mark success by the mass groups of people who showed up on the Fulton Mall for a day’s worth of free music and festivities. And I do.
This is the kind of music festival that defines a city, or at least a neighborhood — in this case, downtown’s Mural District.
Thousands showed up for the Catacomb Party in 2013 (despite the July heat) to watch 40 bands play over six stages. They no doubt wondered what happened to their new favorite event when it failed to materialize the following year.
Well, they can wonder no more. The party returns on April 4.
While it has a new location, further down the Fulton Mall at the Mariposa Plaza, it will still be “free, loud, all-ages and inclusive.”
The festival’s lineup, which was released in two batches last month, is just shy of 30 bands and reflects the organizers attempts to attract the types of acts that play similar festivals around the country, says organizer Mathr de León.
Moving the date to the spring puts Catacomb between the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho, and The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California. It also puts it closer to SXSW, which happens March 17-21 in Austin, Texas.
That makes it more attractive to artists like Tom Krell, who performs under the moniker How to Dress Well and headlines the festival, along with famed electronic indie act Dan Deacon.
How to Dress Well may not be a household name, but the Chicago songwriter has strong credibility with those who follow what’s hip. His album “What is this Heart” received raves on the music site Pitchfork. It received an 8.8 (out of 10) rating. It was also No. 4 on Urban Outfitters list of best albums in 2014.
Deacon’s live shows are renowned and seem like a perfect fit for the lively atmosphere Catacomb is looking to create.
The lineup also has a strong list of second-tier performers that includes the critically acclaimed punk band Joyce Manor, Chilean songstress Maria Del Pilar and rapper K.Flay, who de Leon is especially happy they were able to book.
“It was a long shot,” he says.
K.Flay is strong female voice, and though she’s never been to Fresno, she should get good response from local fans, de Leon says.
“There’s a market for someone like that here.”
While the festival skewed away from local headliners this year, it did book San Francisco blues rock band The Stone Foxes, which has strong local ties. Several of its members are from Fresno. And there are still plenty of (mostly young and hip) Fresno bands on the bill. They run the gamut of genres. There’s rapper Zee Will and the psych-rock band Light Thieves. There’s shoegaze (Sleepover Disaster), Americana (Richfield), hardcore (Reunion) and whatever it is that Fatty Cakes and the Puff Pastries plays.
The full lineup not finalized, de León says, hinting at some exciting additions to come in the next few weeks. You can see the complete lineup on the festival’s website, http://www.catacombparty.com/.