Field Trips‘s Be Well Fest’s goal was not only to raise money for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention–it was to also raise awareness about mental health.
With a lineup of 14 bands and an audience full of music lovers, Be Well Fest targeted a demographic vulnerable to mental health issues. It’s been proven that musicians could be up to or more than three times more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
The day opened up with lo-fi funky Peggy183 (otherwise known as digigurl) as the sun beat down out in San Diego’s East County. Aptly-dubbed “cyberpunk,” their synth sounds flowed as fluidly as the trickling of water into the pond on the other side of the nursery.
Next, Imperial Beach boys Chutes offered prog-shoegaze tunes to a steadily growing crowd. Meanwhile, Weird Hues began setting up their art show. They encircled the display with recycled pallets for protection.
Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Elise Trouw stuck to drumming and vocals for her set. Drawing from both rock and jazz roots, she could have you swaying and then bobbing from one moment to the next.
Some good old classic garage punk graced Stage Two next as Slay Dean slayed their set. The psychedelic beach rockers drew a growing crowd. The once lush grass in front of each stage became trampled as each new group arrived.
Buddha Trixie, fresh off their latest release, played both old songs and new for the crowd. The variation of sound the band offers, from moments of heavier synth to gritty guitar, made them a novelty.
T. Rexico arrived next, opening with a cover of the Twin Peaks series’ intro. They would’ve fit in perfectly with the music outros featured in the newest season.
El Monte’s The Red Pears dressed in Hawaiian shirts just as groovy as their lo-fi shoegaze songs. With both lyrics and instrumentals that masterfully catch your ear, it’s not hard to get hooked on their beachy tunes. Their most recent release, 11:03, flowed soft and easy over the swaying crowd.
Matt Lamkin of the Soft Pack played music from his solo project released less than a year ago. His set featured a violin–a rarity among a sea of electric guitars that day. One of the few pop acts of the fest, he held close to some of the same 90s influences from previous projects but with obvious growth showcased in the new songs.
Surfy dream pop rockers Los Shadows did not disappoint. Not quite intoxicated or confident enough yet, the crowd lounged in the grass in front of the stage, trying to escape the heat but enjoy the smooth serenading of the trio.
When Moon Ensemble started their set, so did the dancing. A crowd gathered in a large circle to get down to this self described “funkgaze” band. Dance synth and psych guitar only barely drowned out the cheering on of solo dancers jumping into the circle to show off their moves.
In a surprise appearance, Spooky Cigarette took to the stage in front of a crowd that seemed to appear out of nowhere and continue to grow in both size and energy. Even with guitarist Jakob McWhinney sporting a broken finger wrapped in layers of bandage and a total of six band members crowded onstage, the new-wave synth-pop masterminds performed in such a way that we all seemed to ascend to a whole new plane. Guitarist Daniel Gallo, before jumping into the crowd and tackling a few people on his way down, stopped between songs to remind the crowd why they were there: to raise awareness about mental health and about suicide prevention.
New wave Los Angeles trio Billy Changer were the first to play after the sun set and free spirits began to fly amok. A conga line circled the crowd at an upbeat pace with smiles on everyone’s face. With the taco stand closed and it being too dark to peruse the book stand or artwork, all attention was focused on the music. Everything was softly lit from hanging lights around the garden, somehow perfectly fitting to the band’s sound, accentuated with synth solos and soft guitar.
Splavender entered the scene next and immediately caught everyone’s eye and ear with the pleasantly unmistakable sound of a saxophone. Both psychedelic surf and jazz rolled into one, the upbeat tempo of the set and the energy behind each members’ performance kept the energy of the crowd from dwindling as the night started to come to a close.
“Mermaid rock” quartet The Aquadolls gave us all one last taste of psychedelia with an enthusiasm that wouldn’t die. Even before the previous band’s set had ended, a crowd was eagerly gathering in front of Stage Two. A pit gathered by the time they started the classic “Guys Who Skate” and no one stopped dancing until the night closed down.
To get further involved with American Foundation for Suicide Prevention San Diego, check out some events such as the Walk to Fight Suicide and Survivor Day.
Photos and review by: Francesca Tirpak