SCMF: The Underground is Coming Up

Written by Mark Apuzzo
Photos via SCMF on Facebook

Festival season may be ending but that doesn’t mean that festing needs to stop. Cue the Santa Cruz Music Festival, for those of us not ready to stop attending music festivals just because the summer has ended. The Santa Cruz Music Festival, or SCMF for short, is on October 19th and 20th in… you guessed it, Santa Cruz. But this isn’t your typical city festival, that takes place in one big arena or park; instead, SCMF is spread across the whole downtown portion of the city.

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The Stages

The three “main stages” for SCMF are The Catalyst Club, Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, and San Lorenzo Park. Then, there are a whopping 10 other participating locations ranging from bars to record shops that will be housing music, that’s like having a 13 stage festival! There are a few bigger names headlining the festival but the true allure of this particular music festival is in the potential for discovering new and unique music. With varieties spanning from heavy space bass all the way to acoustic surf rock, this showcase of native California talent is sure to appeal to any music connoisseur.

The Catalyst

While each SCMF “stage” does seem to have some continuity with the style of who’s playing there, no stage is devoted to only one genre or style. The Catalyst headliners include Minnesota, Shlump, Thriftworks, Zeke Beats and more, with a “takeover” from Soundpieces featuring Youngsta, Lost Ones, Ryury, Being, and LB Konfusion, as well as a takeover from Lost Dogz featuring Abelation, Eazybaked, Milano, Sumthin Sumthin, and Untitled. This makes The Catalyst the most bass heavy of the three main stages, but its definitely not your typical bass stage.

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San Lorenzo Park

San Lorenzo Park is where the techno and trance lovers will want to head to. The park is just over a half mile from The Catalyst right on the river, so the setting is beautiful. The lineup for this stage includes:  Mikey Lion, Christian Martin, Porky, Worthy, Option 4, and several more artists. These DJ’s will bring some of the freshest blends of electronic dance beats that you’ve heard in a long time so you’ll definitely want to stop by the park, maybe you’ll see some dogs too if you’re lucky.

Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium

The last of the “main stages” is The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, which will host the House artists for this fest, though none of them fit neatly into the typical notions of what House is. Artist at this venue include: Jai Wolf, Hippie Sabotage, Funk Hunters, Louis Futon, Autograf, Sweater Beats, ford., Dissolve, and O’Snap. All of these artists have their own unique brand of music ranging from Sweater Beats comfy, Sunday afternoon vibes type of music, to Luis Futon’s bubbly, upbeat Big Room House style. This stage is sure to have everyone in the crowd dancing and feeling good.

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The Takeovers

Outside of these three main venues there are still 10 other locations you can visit throughout your weekend to experience the best local artists California has to offer. I did my best to figure out what the vibes were for each location in case you don’t know the artists already, because I’ll be honest I wasn’t familiar with many of the names, and that excites me.


 Motiv, one of Santa Cruz’s night clubs, will be housing some more trance and techno style music with 2 takeovers. One takeover will be by Wormhole and feature artists such as KLL SMth, Duffrey, and Krakinov b2b Dastardly while the second takeover run by Opulent Temple will see acts like SpaceGeisha b2b Dela Moon, Billy Cassaza, and several more.  

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Surf City Billiards

Surf City Billiards was one of the more diverse blends of acts, with styles ranging from electronic reggaeton to trap house this pool hall will be having 3 separate takeovers. The first listed is The Program Takeover with headliners Smasheltooth and Brittany from Earlier and several other artists. Second is the Spicy Boys Club Takeover with lead artists Miss Dre and Oszo, and the third takeover is run by Twisted Music with artists such Numerous, Smelly Shlaps b2b A Chan Kai, DJ Wingo, and Scaughty.

Abbot Square

If you’re looking for another outdoor spot Abbot Square could be the place for you. This cozy little market square will have some amazing live artists playing. Guests can expect to hear everything from the hip hop beats of artists like Sandra J and Getaway Dogs to the folk-rock styling of Wild Iris or maybe some of the pop reggae from Kruel Summer. Whatever your tastes for music, you can enjoy it while pairing it with the delicious foods, wines and craft beers that are right there.   

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…And so much more!

There are so many more places to go and artists to hear it’ll be impossible to get to all of them, aside from what has been listed already, attendees will also be able to go to 99 Bottles ale house, Streetlight Records the music shop, Rosie MCCann’s Pub, Café Mare, The Blue Lagoon cocktail lounge, and the upstairs of The Catalyst will serve as a second stage within that venue. There are 6 other takeovers happening as well as the one’s I’ve already mentioned, including: Lost and Found Takeover, Shiva and Friends Takeover, Raindance Takeover, Bounce Camp Takeover, The 56 Collective Presents Cyberdelia, and the Smile High Club Takeover. These venues will house artists performing a huge variety of music, whether you’re a fan of acoustic psychedelic surf rock or you prefer to get weird to some future bass you’re sure to discover something new that you’ll love.

Tickets, VIP Packages, Afterparties & Parkpluss passes

Time flies and October will be here in no time. Purchase your passes here before it’s too late. SCMF offers packages ranging from full VIP with after parties included down to their Parkplus pass. Parkpluss passes gets you into all participating venues except for the Catalyst and the Civic Auditorium. One last thing in case you weren’t convinced just yet: Santa Cruz is right on the ocean. After you’re done dancing your buns off, you can go dig your toes into the sand. What more could you ask for? So don’t wait and get to the Santa Cruz Music Festival!

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