Home Arts & Entertainment The grass-roots music scene in San Luis Obispo

The grass-roots music scene in San Luis Obispo


A crowd gathered around a stage at the Big Surreal in 2015. The event is an intimate gathering nestled in the hills of Big Sur.
Photos courtesy of Zack Gingg / LuvLab Productions

By Clara Applegarth
Features Editor

With summer approaching, students are now able to make plans that don’t include costly music festivals like Lightning in a Bottle, or Outside Lands. San Luis Obispo now offers several music festivals and events for a fraction of the price.

Companies like LuvLab productions, based in Big Sur, and new entertainment company, IDM Productions, are setting the tone for a new subculture within San Luis Obispo of like-minded individuals through creative expression.

IDM is a production company that’s sole focus is to provide a sense of belonging and community through artwork and music through their events.

IDM events, run by students, including Fullerton, and Endrizzi, offers a wealth of opportunity to generate growth through music and art, while trying to foster responsible partying in San Luis Obispo.

“Our main goal is community development,” said Ryan Fullerton, founder of IDM events. “I feel like everyone needs a sense of belonging — that’s one of the fundamental needs as a human being — and I feel like there is a lack of that in our society, especially for young people.”

23 year old Cuesta student, Blake Endrizzi, majoring in sound production, is the networker of IDM.

“Ryan puts on an amazing experience that is always welcoming for new-comers,” Endrizzi said. “IDM’s moment means that SLO’s small techno and bass community has a chance to grow in [SLO’s] thriving college community,”

Their events are held monthly, and provides different themes to widen their net of attendees. For instance, one of their events was titled “Deep Resonance”, which catered to those who enjoy more deep house, a music genre that has been around since the 1980s and has made a huge comeback in recent years.

IDM held an event April 15 at Bang the Drum Brewery which further widened their inclusiveness being an all ages event. The event was more angled towards art, allowing attendees to view live art and make their own as well with materials provided by SLO Art Center.

“We have live art and local paintings, and jewelry for sale, like a mini farmers market.” Endrizzi said.

The thing that sets IDM apart from the other events, is it’s cost effectiveness. Their events are usually five dollars, or can even be free.

Endrizzi and Fullerton understand that their main demographic is focused on young adults and college aged students in San Luis Obispo, and that sometimes it’s hard to find a good time with high prices at bars, or other local entertainment, including music festivals and concerts.

“We understand that if someone is in a tight spot financially, we can accommodate to that.” Fullerton said.

Events that they compete with are Dirtybird, Lightning in a Bottle, located in Bradley, a mere 45 minutes north of San Luis Obispo.

Tickets to these festivals can cost up to $315 for a single pass. This doesn’t include the cost of food, water, or necessities because these festivals are based in remote locations where attendees must camp in order to go to the event.

Another such event company, started by Cuesta alumni: Mike Handy, Lucas Handy, and Zack Gingg, is called LuvLab Productions.

They began in 2013 with only a few people holding smaller events on the Big Sur coastline.

They started small, and then began hosting intimate overnight gatherings every six to eight weeks.

“In December 2013, the Pfeiffer Fire ravaged the North Coast of Big Sur,” said Zack Gingg, secretary of LuvLab. “Over 34 homes were destroyed, and more than 100 people were displaced by the fire. Luvlab was new to curating events, but we felt we needed to help out in some way.”

Since, LuvLab has cultivated a community throughout the Central Coast and Monterey, holding events from their headquarters in Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, and their most recent endeavor, in San Diego county.

“Our main focus is on Big Surreal,” Gingg said. “Which will take place July 20-22, 2018. Big Surreal is an intimate gathering for 500 people, nestled in the hills of Big Sur.”

LuvLab events offer similar tastes like IDM, from deep house to drum circles. They also allow performers to showcase different entertainment like poi (fire spinning), aerial dance, and more.

Workshops are also provided by LuvLab to teach attendees about permaculture, or yoga.

With these two companies only beginning to take movement within our community, both hope to sprawl and create like-minded and easily accessible festivals for every demographic and age.

“Dance and art is such a fun way to express yourself,” said Cuesta Alumni, Olive Fontaine. “I feel lucky to have found such a safe space to be myself.”

Tropo playing at Big Surreal 2015 in Big Sur.