Culture Collide aims to make the music scene more global

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After leaving Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival this past weekend, you might be feeling satisfied because your bank account is still intact. There aren’t many options other than Hardly Strictly for accessible, inexpensive music festivals in San Francisco that also feature a strong lineup. Culture Collide festival, in its fifth year but first in San Francisco, is trying to change that. Priced at only $23.75 for both days, the festival lineup features familiar names such as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Cloud Nothings, but the aim is to bring dozens of selected international bands together for music lovers to discover new music and, of course, have a good time.

Jordan, Korea, Netherlands, Australia, Singapore, Peru and Mexico are just a few of the places these bands call home. Many of the groups are indie rock bands, with some more on the electro or synth-pop end such as the Oaths, from Poland. In a phone interview with The Daily Californian, Culture Collide founder and co-founder of Filter magazine Alan Miller described the typical attendee as someone who is progressive and “really hungry and eager to find five to 10 new bands.” In this way, the festival is more artist-centered or at least artist-conscious. The biggest stage can host 1,000 people, and all the venues are within walking distance from one another. Miller says this gives show-goers the opportunity to walk up to a band and be able to talk to them after seeing them play.

Miller says their expansion of the festival from Los Angeles to New York City and now San Francisco allows international artists to get as many opportunities to showcase in the United States as possible. Many times, groups can travel through other cities on the way for a few shows while they are in the United States. The resulting attention from these tours can lead to TV-show appearances or meetings with international record labels.

The importance of this level of accessibility is key for Miller, as reflected in the ticket prices. Miller says Culture Collide isn’t a festival with which they are trying to make a huge amount of money, but they offset costs in any possible way and collect enough money to keep doing it each year. Most of all, he doesn’t want prices of a festival to be a barrier for music fans.

Students and audience members who are also musicians can attend the two-day creative summit for free. The summits are more tailored to each city, and as Miller describes them, they “try to keep them really fun, not like typical panels where smart people talk and other people have to listen.” The San Francisco version will feature panels with topics such as burritos, tech opportunities for artists and alcohol tastings from around the world brought by the bands themselves.

The impetus for Miller creating Culture Collide had much to do with his passion for traveling. “It’s the single best way you learn about people and cultures,” he says. He’s been fortunate, he says, and wants others to have an experiences of, well, colliding cultures. If you don’t have the chance to go to Israel or Sweden, you can come to the fest’s Happy Hour events, which are presented by their respective consulates. Drink specials and performances by the Kokoro, Skyroads and Dorine Levy will be featured at the Israeli Happy Hour on Tuesday.

Miller’s commitment to his ideas about the festival also extend to his creative agency and editorial platform under similar monikers. After the festivals this month, he plans to expand partnerships and the content of his site, having artists curate travel guides and new music.

Culture Collide is occurring at the Mission in San Francisco on Oct. 14 and 15.

Contact A.J. Kiyoizumi at [email protected].