Beer, art and music collide at BAM Fest in Santa Monica

By Kelby Vera


Hot chicks with fake hipster moustaches were a thing at last year’s BAM Fest

Hot chicks with fake hipster moustaches were a thing at last year’s BAM Fest

Riot Grrrl punk, experimental art installations and draughts of more than 100 craft beers collide this Saturday for the 7th annual Beer, Art & Music Festival — BAM Fest for short — to raise funds for the nonprofit 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica.

First, the beer. BAM keeps the party flowing with the help of more than 40 breweries — including Angel City, Golden Road, Firestone Walker, El Segundo Brewing Co., Santa Monica Brew Works and Three Weavers — each of donating the amber nectar needed to make the fundraiser possible.

Why raise money? For the arts, of course. As part of its 28-year mission “to provoke public dialogue through contemporary art-making,” 18th Street Arts Center operates a program of five different residencies to support local and international artists in creative risk-taking.

Artists-in-residence are opening their studios to let festivalgoers get an intimate look at the creative process, with resident artist Hao Ni also hosting a pop-up group show. Before taking it up to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles art collective Lucky Dragons is debuting a new interactive performance called “User Agreement,” which explores new possibilities for international conflict resolution.

But BAM Fest would just be BA without the music, and this year it’s all about Grrrl Power. The punk rock lineup pairs celebrated L.A. artist and activist Alice Bag’s infectious howls and cutting lyrics with Sex Stains, a fierce five-piece fronted by two high-velocity vocalists.

In Sex Stains, choreographer Mecca Vazie Andrews and writer Allison Wolfe (formerly of Bratmobile) team up to serve a mean punch of riot grrrl realness matched with large scoop of cacophonous post-punk.

“Sex Stains and Alice Bag are like sibling bands. Sometimes we even jump on each other’s stages!” says Wolfe.

True to the DIY spirt of punk, festivalgoers can get their hands dirty at a “Crafternoon” workshop or strike a pose at any of several artist-inspired photo booths. Local brewers are also hosting crash-courses on home brewing and pairing food with beer.

Naturally, leaving the car at home is encouraged. Organizers recommend taking the new Expo light rail line from the nearby 17th Street / Santa Monica College stop, and the city is putting up plenty of bike racks for the event.

BAM Fest is from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at 18th Street Arts Center, 1639 18th St., Santa Monica. Tickets are $45 in advance; $50 at the door. Visit for more info.