When Bummerfest chief organizer Jordan Krimston talks about his May 9 all-ages art and music festival at the Irenic, the whole shindig doesn't seem like much of a bummer at all.
"I felt like if I was going to put on a fest of this caliber, I had to ask a lot of the bands I love -- like Rob Crow, Stage Kids and Pretend -- fully expecting them to all say 'no,'" he told SoundDiego. "But everyone said 'yes.' I lucked out in a big way. Bummerfest started off as a big concert, but it's since expanded and is even bigger than we thought it would be now. We have charities, raffles, food, stuff for sale, along with art and music of course."
Krimston knows a thing or two about rad shows. Recently his main band, the post-punk/math-rock trio Big Bad Buffalo opened the April 14 Drive Like Jehu show at the Casbah. Last year, they were tapped to kick off the Hot Snakes show at the Irenic. They've been up and down the West Coast on tour, helped organize a Thanksgiving-themed charity benefit called YamFest and -- what do you know -- graced your TV sets with a featured spot on SoundDiego TV [watch it here].
Not a bad resume for a 17 year old.
And it's only getting more impressive. Bummerfest is actually Krimston's senior project -- although the event seems to mean much more than just a school assignment to him.
"I've been wanting to put on a music/arts fest for a while. I helped with YamFest -- I was the co-producer of that -- but it was my friend Steve's baby. I wanted to do something where I was in charge. And at Helix High School, you have to do a senior project, and it has to be something that benefits the community. It was the perfect opportunity: Kill two birds with one stone."
With a lineup that includes Rob Crow's Gloomy Place, Inspired and the Sleep, Mr. Tube & the Flying Objects, Stage Kids, Pretend, Octagrape, Bit Maps, Sledding With Tigers, Dawayne Neptune, Big Bad Buffalo and the Helix Bagpipers, Krimston really just wanted to expose his friends to great -- and different -- music.
"A lot of kids aren't exposed to a lot of these kinds of bands," he explained. "I thought it was very critical to have it all-ages because kids need to see this stuff. I want kids from my school to go to this and walk away wanting to go to it again. A lot of kids think surf punk is the craziest thing that's ever happened in musical history. Everyone my age is obsessed with surf punk, and I'm over it. I wanted the lineup to be diverse -- and mixed shows are the best. If there's a show where every band sounds the same, I get burnt out. I think Bummerfest's lineup highlights bands that aren't derivative of stereotypes, and I think all of them bring something different to the table."
While we chatted, it was obvious that the bands he asked to participate are dear to him in a big way. Krimston wasn't just looking for the biggest names he could book; he was genuinely asking bands he wanted to see. Take the Thousand Oaks, California-based band Pretend, for example.
"I think this is Pretend's first show in San Diego in five or six years," he said. "They've been around for almost 10 years now, but they're the most elusive band I know -- they only have one album. Everything they do is very drawn out. They take their time and make things perfect. The singles for their upcoming album came out last year and the year before [laughs]. They probably play three to four shows a year. I've seen them once at Pomona, and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen."
Besides the litany of excellent music on tap and a number of incredible artists set to display their artwork, Bummerfest's heart and soul derives from Krimston's personal connections to two nonprofit charities: Love Hope Strength, which registers bone marrow donors worldwide, and 1BlueString, which raises awareness for childhood abuse, will both be on hand. Festival-goers can take comfort knowing that they can become involved in something bigger and help others out.
Even though giving back always feels good, ultimately, the Big Bad Buffalo frontman just hopes for the best.
"I just want everyone to have fun," he said.
What a bummer.
Bummerfest takes place at the Irenic on Saturday, May 9. The festival is hosted by 91x's Tim Pyles, and includes bands like Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place, Inspired and the Sleep, Mr. Tube & the Flying Objects, Big Bad Buffalo and artists such as McHank, Kenseth Thibodeau and Jack Habegger. Tickets are $8 in advance and are available here. The show is all-ages and starts at 2:45 p.m.