The Muffs, Tony Molina, Habits, La Sera and Colleen Green headline the station’s 2nd annual free music festival at LMU
By Michael Aushenker
Coachella is so last weekend.
On Sunday, KXLU Fest II — the second free music festival sponsored by the Loyola Marymount University-based independent radio station broadcasting at 88.9 on the FM dial — hits campus with some of the station’s top bands this year.
Celebrated local garage-punk band The Muffs headlines an exclusively West Coast-flavored bill rounded out by punk-flavored indie rocker Tony Molina, the genre-defying and synthesizer-heavy Habits, dream-pop tastemakers La Sera, and stripped-down indie rocker Colleen Green.
“All the bands that are playing have cracked the Top 10 on our Top 30 charts since September,” said KXLU Music Director Anna Soffer, lead organizer of this year’s festival.
“The Muffs are one of my favorite bands. They were a KXLU band back in the day, so they’re going to bring newer fans of their last album and they’re a tilt to our older DJs and older listeners,” Soffer said.
Rapidly approaching their first quarter-century mark, The Muffs blend elements of garage, Mersey Beat and punk — much like New York punk scene leaders The Ramones did. Led by one-time Pixies bassist Kim Shattuck, the band started out in 1991 as a quartet but now is a trio featuring Shattuck, original bassist Ronnie Barnett and drummer Roy McDonald.
In addition to some solid originals, The Muffs famously covered Kim Wilde’s one-hit wonder “Kids in America” for the soundtrack of the 1995 hit comedy “Clueless.”
Formerly a major labor act, the Muffs distributed their latest album, last year’s “Whoop Dee Doo,” through indie label Burger Records.
At KXLU Fest, deejays are spinning between the main acts, and other attractions include food trucks and side gigs sponsored by Burger Records, Lolipop Records, Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles, L.A. Zine Fest and Giant Robot.
Molina used to be frontman of the now-defunct San Francisco group Ovens, has served as lead guitarist for Violent Change and has sung for Caged Animal. He recently released “Dissed and Dismissed,” a disenfranchised-sounding, punk-flavored indie rock album blending Molina’s easy-going vocals over distorted guitar riffs on the San Francisco label Melters.
“He has one of my records of the year,” Soffer said. “It’s like all of my favorite bands rolled up all into one: Thin Lizzie and Teenage Fanclub and Weezer. He doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but what he does he does very well.”
La Sera, now with three albums under its belt, features Katy Goodman — formerly of Vivian Girls and All Saints Day — with Todd Wisenbaker, Danny Gomez and Nick Price.
L.A.-based Green, who recently performed alongside Beat Kitchen and Upset, broke out in 2010 with her first album, 2011’s “Milo Goes to Compton.” A second album, “Sock It to Me,” followed in 2013 while her latest, “I Want to Grow Up,” came out Feb. 24.
“Colleen Green sings really fun, poppy songs. Just her, a guitar and a drum machine,” Soffer said.
Habits is the synthesizer/sample-based musical doppelganger of Dustin Krapes, supported by Bobby Vega on drums and Gabriel Armenta on bass.
“I don’t consider it EDM. It’s more like rock music or post-punk,” Krapes said.
Inland Empire native Krapes grew up digging Talking Heads and Suicide and, more recently, LCD Soundsystem, Liars and Beck. On the hip-hop side, there’s Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, MF Doom, Adlib and Ace of Rock.
“I try not to live in the past too much,” said Krapes, whose own work in concert is a hybrid of prerecorded music and live performance, “but I’m really picky finding new bands. I get really bored with simple guitar-bass-drums rock stuff.”
Habits marks an evolution for Krapes since his days in Halloween Swim Team — a KXLU playlist favorite.
Krapes, in return, has much respect for KXLU.
“The station plays a lot of less well-known bands. I like that there’s a lot of weird stuff going on there,” he said.
At LMU, Krapes will play cuts off of Habits’ sole album, “Unselves in Arrival,” for which Krapes crafted such dense musical tracks as “Splendor of the Panic,” “Toymakr,” “Heavy Color” and “Mood Swingers.” Some of the track title misspellings are purposeful to invite unique hash tag hits. But not in the case of “Haacksaw,” which pays homage to Bruce Haack, “a pioneering electronic musician first to make a song entirely with a synthesizer.” The name evolved because Krapes originally started the tune with a Haack sample.
“Our stuff is weird enough to fit on KXLU, but I think it’s accessible enough to be on a station like KROQ,” Krapes said.
The inaugural KXLU Fest in March 2014 featured No Age leading a lineup that included The Audacity, So Many Wizards, GRMLN and Monster Rally.
“Last year, the bands were all from L.A. This year, they’re West Coast,” Soffer said of the festival’s expanded reach, which she also points out is more inclusive of female musicians.
“I don’t think that was intentional, but I’m happy it worked out that way.”
KXLU Fest II runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday on the O’Malley Lawn at Loyola Marymount University, 7900 LMU Drive, Westchester. Free. No alcohol or drugs. Call (310) 338-2700 or visit kxlu.dola.com.