The labyrinthine streets of downtown Riverside came alive with an explosion of culture this past weekend during the 11th annual Saturation Fest.
The festival highlighted all the alternative arts and entertainment that the Inland Empire has to offer, from local bands to street vendors to artists. Hundreds of people from all across the region convened to take in the awesome overload of counter-culture with a distinct do-it-yourself ethos.
The festival was started by a number of different people as a means to get all the local artists in the IE to convene for one spectacular weekend. Since its first incarnation in 2001, Saturation Fest has grown from only a few bands a dozens of people to dozens of bands a a few hundred people.
The musical range of the bands that performed throughout the weekend reflected the eclectic mixture of bands that call the IE their home. More aggressive bands such as Shut Eye and Mothers of Gut complemented perfectly with folky features such as Eva and the Vagabond Tales and acoustic acts such as Inner Prisms and Honest Abe.
On Friday, The Mad Marionettes headlined a show at local coffee venue Back To the Grind that contained music from many different genres. Son of Cecil, a Claremont band that seemed to be flanked on each side by a random group of trendy young women, combined psychedelic punk and 90s alternative with just a dash of shoegaze to bring the entire coffee shop to its knees.
The Blood-Orange Infoshop hosted another show that had more of a hardcore edge to it, with Moxiebeat and Shut Eye playing in support of Cathedral Ghost from Reno and WUV from the San Francisco Bay Area.
On Saturday, the Youthless Records and Choc Ivana show drew the largest crowd at Back To the Grind. Bands from all over the region that reflected a healthy mixture of different genres. Local favorites Summer Twins performed their beautiful bubblegum pop, Stab City played a chaotic blend of metal and punk and Mothers of Gut subjected listeners to a spacy cacophony that seemed to be heralding the end of the world.
Sunday was kind of like a recovery day for the Saturation faithful, whose ears were undoubtedly still ringing from the night before. A group of amazing acoustic artists played, including New York Taxi and Breezy Rondilone.
A major component of Saturation fest was the number of workshops that provided helpful information and tools to those who attended. Workshops included “Know Your Rights,” which provided information on how to deal with cops, and a “home brew” workshop which taught people the basics of brewing your own beer.
The Infoshop hosted the annual DIY Print Fest on Saturday, which educated people on screen printing and zine making, with spoken word artists, poets and informative seminars. KUCR, UC Riverside’s student-run radio station, was on hand to help during the workshop.
One of the main draws of the festival was the unique blend of art that adorned the walls of venues such as Back to the Grind and the Blood-Orange Infoshop. Local artists such as Danielle Gibson and OpaqueFaculty had their artwork adorned across the old walls of the many venues in downtown Riverside.
Saturation Fest proved to be a major success for everyone involved, bringing a shared appreciation of the DIY culture and proving that the Inland Empire is full of interesting and creative people.