Festival founder Kevin Arnold looks back on his five favorite sets over the last 20 years
5. The Fastbacks at Bottom of the Hill, 1993-2002
After a surprise set the first year of the festival, the Fastbacks settled into an annual residency at the Bottom of the Hill from 1994 until their fateful end in 2002, which was their official “last show ever” up until last fall. I have many memories of standing side-stage at Bottom grinning stupidly the whole time.
4. David Cross, Tapes 'n' Tapes, and Shepard Fairey at Mezzanine, 2007
We love it when we have the opportunity to throw big, free parties, and that year Dr. Marten's sponsored one at the Mezzanine with great bands, DJs, and art, topped off by David Cross as MC. What made it most memorable was when David started his set with a long improvised bit on the sponsor, and the fact that all the fun was basically a big effort to get the audience to buy shoes.
3. The Flaming Lips' Boombox Experiment No. 4 at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1998
Starting with 1998, Jordan and I pretty much created dream lists of our favorite all-time bands that we wanted to have at the festival. We've been super lucky working down that list, with idols like Bob Mould, Frank Black, Superchunk, X, Guided By Voices, and many, many more over the years. But the Lips were one of the first of the dream bands, and we couldn't have been happier or more excited to be one of the lucky few to present one of their amazing Boom Box Experiments as our first adventure with them.
2. Archers of Loaf at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1997
This was the first show that we did at Bimbo's, and in my mind it's the first big show we did that featured a national band that wasn't from the our own backyard on the West Coast.
1. The First Noise Pop: Overwhelming Colorfast, The Meices, Corduroy, ¡Carlos!, Bitchcraft, and a surprise appearance by the Fastbacks at the Kennel Club, 1993
Nothing can ever match the awesome feeling that comes with unexpected successes like that first show. It surpassed all expectations and everyone involved wanted more of that feeling, which is why we're still doing it today, I guess.