The sound of chatter and the boom of a bassline could be heard in the distance as I approached the Storke Tower courtyard last Saturday, Oct. 6, for an evening of live music hosted by KCSB, the community-funded radio station at UCSB.
It was my first time attending a KCSB event, and the show looked ethereal at first glance. A row of people was standing at the railguard, overlooking the action, their figures illuminated by the glow of colored lights. Below them, the concert formed an animated, neon spot against the dark and quiet of UCSB’s campus on a weekend night.
I walked down the steps to enter the event zone, tucked away behind a cluster of buildings. When I entered, there were approximately forty people in attendance. The set up was minimalist in style, and there were no seats other than a few preexisting benches. Merchandise tables lined the stage, advertising promotional items for the artists as well as KCSB.
Ranging from Hawaiian shirts to beanies to platform boots, glimpses of distinctive clothing reflected the eclectic nature of the event’s audience. It was an event catered to an alternative crowd, and that crowd was there in full force. With most attendees chatting away in their respective groups, the crowd provided a lively rumble to precede the music.
“The crowd here is great,” said [[[personablack]]], an electronic musician and one of the headliners of the event. “They’re all super friendly.”
[[[personablack]]], a Los Angeles artist, made his UCSB appearance during an exceptionally busy year, having released three albums — Michael, The Game, and Man Muzzle — all in 2018.
The other headliners of the event included ambient musician Ahnnu and neo-psychedelia band Sun Araw. While these artists were varied in genre, one thing was clear: their music was all far from the typical mainstream content. Playing and producing types of music most haven’t heard before, each of these artists created a distinctly experimental sound.
The artists’ interesting characters seemed apt to hold a crowd’s attention. So, it was shocking to see that the crowd was somewhat disinterested by what was happening on stage at first. Despite ongoing performances on-stage, audience conversation seemed to take precedence over enjoyment of the musical sets.
This changed within minutes as the final headliner, Sun Araw, came on.
The once chatty crowd was suddenly silent, making their way to gather in front of the stage and sit down on the ground. As the band members strummed and pounded on their instruments, all that could be seen was the rhythmic bobbing of heads. There was one person standing at the front, bouncing and dancing.
Transcending mild interest, Sun Araw captivated their audience to the point that no one was on their phone recording, Snapchatting, or texting. There was a sense of total focus on the music being played: everyone seemed to be entranced by the cacophony of experimental, psychedelic rock.
Lasting around twenty minutes, the set was just long enough to energize the crowd into giving a final standing ovation to conclude the event. Once the show was over, people promptly shuffled out into the night, with a handful of people lingering to buy merchandise or chat briefly about what they had just witnessed.
As people made their way out, some exclaimed to each other about having enjoyed the music, or about their interest in learning more about the artists and the radio station. Through this, it was clear that KCSB Presents made its mark, adding to the independent radio station’s reputation as the tastemaker for alternative and underground music in Santa Barbara.
You can tune into KCSB’s radio programming at the frequency 91.9 FM, and learn more at kcsb-radio.dreamhosters.com.