The stage was set for three nights of music — 15 bands and three DJs — in a hip venue in downtown Oakland, this weekend with tickets on sale via Eventbrite. But then came the omicron COVID variant and, as has been the case with many events as of recent, organizers made the decision to postpone Oakland Weekender 2022.
“It’s definitely not a good idea to gather at the moment,” says Mario Hernandez, of Oakland’s Artsick, one of the bands in the Oakland Weekender lineup. Hernandez is also one of the festival organizers, along with bandmate Christina Riley, Michael Schulman of Slumberland Records and Stewart Anderson of Emotional Response Records.
Hernandez shares, “We’ve been putting on festivals here and there, like every couple of years, for a really long time. So this was kind of like, ‘We haven’t had shows in a really long time. We should do a big festival.’ And it kind of turned out the way it did.”
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Oakland Weekender — an indie pop music festival — was scheduled for Jan. 6-8 at The Golden Bull. Featuring five indie bands and one DJ per night, this first-time event’s lineup included bands on the Slumberland and Emotional Response record labels, such as Boyracer, Peel Dream Magazine and Tape Waves.
Says Hernandez of indie music, “It’s a really diverse, really inclusive scene. We’re very into the right causes. So it was just kind of getting like-minded people together and play[ing] good music. That was basically the basis of the festival idea.”
And while Hernandez describes Oakland as happenstance in terms of the location of the festival, several of the bands in the lineup — such as Blues Lawyer, Neutrals and Kids on a Crime Spree — hail from Oakland, and Slumberland Records is Oakland-based as well. The lineup also features several bands that call San Francisco home: The Reds, Pinks & Purples, Chime School, Seablite, Cindy and The Umbrellas.
According to Hernandez, the indie music scene in the Bay Area ebbs and flows: “There’s not like a groundswell, like in the late ’90s, when there was a huge pop scene in San Francisco. It kind of goes up and down all the time. We’re [currently] at another crest, and it’s great that we have so many really good Bay Area bands.
“Indie scenes and punk scenes do really well and get really creative when there’s a lot of oppression,” he continues. “And like in the ’60s and then the ’80s with Reagan and then the ’90s with Bush and now with Trump — I see it as kind of like a responsibility for artists to sort of speak out against fascism and what have you.”
In terms of setting a new date for Oakland Weekender, Hernandez and company are considering rescheduling for mid-June 2022 with the aim to include the same 15 bands. Says Hernandez, “We can’t guarantee anything of course, but we’re hoping, especially since we have the posters.”