Feels 3 festival celebrates creativity and camaraderie

Jason Chen/Staff

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Last Saturday’s Feels 3 festival was an incredible party, with some of the Bay’s raddest people on the guest list. From a sweet elderly couple merrily busting moves to trap beats, to a couple hundred fashion-forward trendsetters, the third installment of the Feels series was filled with a diverse crowd to match the eccentric mash-up of culture and art highlighted at the event.

Spanning two stages within West Oakland’s American Steel Studios, a shared warehouse-turned-art-space, Feels 3 was packed. Guests shifted between the interior stage, where artists shared the space with merch booths and art exhibits, and the exterior stage, surrounded by gargantuan steel figurines installed on the American Steel grounds and two killer food trucks —  including Southeast Asian food booth Sup!, which served a damn good coconut shrimp plate.

The artists, musicians and zine makers curated by Bay Area natives Will Bundy and Max Gibson — founders of creators culture blog Wine and Bowties — further captured Feels 3’s emphasis on community. Easily accessible booths within the warehouse allowed the creatives to display their zines, sweaters and other dope merch, with one vendor selling a sick vintage Steve Austin tee. Early in the evening, Oakland street painter Bud Snow introduced herself to anyone passing by. Snow showed off her humanoid, psychedelia-infused works, many of which have been plastered recently throughout downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt.

The intimacy between performer and observer amplified the personal undertones of the event, and walking side by side with some of the most illustrious underground creators blurred the line between the two roles in the best way. Some local artists, such as San Francisco photographer Vivian Fu, explored the venue with a couple of pals and chatted up a few fans in the process. Fu’s intimate works, which have been featured on Vice and Bust, explore the intersectional constraints of her Asian American identity with a razor-sharp frankness. Syd tha Kid — Odd Future lead producer and The Internet frontwoman — strolled through the gallery on her way to the stage with some of her crew, equipment and speakers in tow.

Probably the most resonating piece of the event was Miami visual artist Marilyn Rondon’s installation: a startling documentation of her forays into the seedy world of Craigslist’s “women seeking men” forum. After posting a listing as a “Latina lookin’ for a thug to make a baby with,” she received dozens of interested emails from strangers and a couple of unsolicited dick pics, all of which were plastered wall to wall in a startling post-Internet display. Even with its initially silly premise, it portrayed a starkly politicized slant on online dating, condemning the patriarchal undercurrent running through hook-up and dating culture.

The DJs featured on the outside stage whipped out blippy, bass-heavy trap sets and high-sheen, electronic, ambient mixes — yet the real scene stealers came from left field. Rap highlights of the past decade played like a handcrafted mixtape courtesy of DJs Cellus and Segundito_21k, and DJ Daghe infused some cumbia and bachata into the wee hours of the night. The impromptu dance floor amplified the party for the folks searching for the bump and grind without the cramped decorum of the standard music festival experience.

The Internet’s showing at Feels 3 was easily the most anticipated highlight, with the entirety of the warehouse stage covered with audience members. Touring in support of its latest album, Ego Death, its funkiest album to date, the Odd Future-associated act grooved onstage with an ease that would fit right in on “Soul Train”. What it lacked in the reckless, antagonistic energy for which the rest of the Odd Future squad is infamous, it more than surpassed with the sparkling charm of Syd and the band. Syd’s infectious enthusiasm even brought color and energy to the otherwise-dour break-up anthem “Just Sayin/I Tried” by urging the packed house to chant, “You fucked up,” a choice line from the aforementioned track.

It was hard not to be enraptured by the positive, community-oriented vibe generated over the course of the night. Considering the small scale of Feels 3 relative to the Coachellas and Lollapaloozas of the music festival circuit, the exuberance of Feels 3 was uplifting. Expect the next Feels to become one of the most hyped festivals in the Bay.


Contact Joshua Bote at [email protected].