SubSessions turned trash from the dumps of San Luis Obispo into a stage — one of three stages blasting music for 14 hours — at their second music festival, NightLife Savings, on Nov. 3.
During the first week of school, the collective of SubSessions had nothing prepared for their upcoming music and arts festival other than a permit. They were tired, low on money and unsure if they could pull it off. But after two months of sleepless nights and rigorous planning, the Cal Poly students and alumni brought together a community of music and art lovers to celebrate at Nightlife Savings.
On Saturday, Nov. 3, SubSessions held their second music and arts festival at Biddle Regional Park in Arroyo Grande. The festival featured art, yoga, seminars and 14 hours of music across three different stages.
Business administration senior Wes Berger is one of five founders of SubSessions. Last spring, he took time off school to help plan their first festival, Life’s a Peach. He returned to school this quarter with a new perspective on what it takes to run a business.
“I’ve never learned more in my life,” Berger said about his time off. “I think it’s what helped us make this festival so special.”
SubSessions acts as a platform for artists and musicians to showcase their work. Typically, it is difficult for small artists to get booked at traditional music venues in San Luis Obispo. Subsessions provides a stage, a sound system and the opportunity for local artists to have their music heard in a unique way.
“We want to be a place for people on the Central Coast to go to for local music,” Berger said. “The goal is not to make money, but [to] continue to act as a platform for local artists to grow.”
Music was featured across three stages: The Clocktower, The Landfill, and The Hex. Each stage played different genres of music, making the festival inclusive to an array of sounds. San Luis Obispo artists Theoem, Trey Young, and .paperman were all featured on the lineup, as well as musicians from Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.
A fourth stage — The Lyceum — acted as an educational space where students and speakers gave seminars on topics ranging from ecofeminism, activism and even a special tea tasting.
One stage was composed almost entirely of trash and recycled materials found from the back alleys and dumps of San Luis Obispo — The Landfill. Communication studies senior Dominic Chequer is the mastermind behind the eco-friendly stage.
“I found these in the trash behind the engineering building,” Chequer said as he pointed to a towering stack of old recycling bins stamped with the Cal Poly logo. “Why would you throw away recycle bins? Is it because they’re not blue enough anymore?”
The Landfill was intended to be a call for environmental awareness.
“Our main focus is upcycling,” Chequer said. “Building all these brand new stages and using new equipment is just more consumption.”
The festival featured paintings and sculptures created by Cal Poly students, as well as a wall for art from the Black Student Union.
“We wanted to make sure their voices are heard and that they are represented here,” Chequer said.
As the sun began to set, the music was cut off for a special ceremony. Everyone gathered at The Landfill as Berger thanked everyone from the vendors and volunteers, to all the attendees. After the thank-yous, the Cal Poly Ecstatic Dance and Mindfulness Club performed an interpretive dance that kicked off the rest of the night of music.
Their permit only allowed them to play music until 2 a.m. But thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time, when the clock struck two, attendees were thrown in a time warp as the clock reset — granting them another full hour of music.
Material engineering junior Matt Nalty had never heard of SubSessions prior to the event but was invited to attend as part of the Cal Poly Zero Waste club.
“I had no idea what to expect but it’s amazing the community of people they have brought together,” said Nalty. “There’s only positive energy here and I think we really need that right now.”