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San Diego IndieFest helps local musicians turn trials into positives

Putting on the annual San Diego IndieFest has meant six years of headaches. And worse.

Four years ago, festival co-founder Alicia Champion “has a grand mal seizure on stage,” fellow performer and organizer Danielle LoPresti recalled, “and has no condition whatsoever that contributed to it. The doctors concluded it was an overdose of good old-fashioned indie-induced stress. I got pneumonia and coughed till my back went out, so that I could not move for five days.”

On the bright side, LoPresti added, “Fishbone was awesome and then proceeded to have sex in the green room. I could go on.”

Fortunately, Champion and LoPresti have gone on, and San Diego IndieFest VI will take place in North Park on March 26 and 27. The Saturday festivities will feature 75 acts on seven stages (one is 21-and-up) and will be headlined by Metric, Far and Nappy Roots. (This Friday, Feb. 26, a fundraiser at Anthology previews the event, with a bill that includes Danielle LoPresti & the Masses.)

The Friday portion of IndieFest is devoted to independent films, a format that suggests an inspiration from the granddaddy of all such happenings, Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW).

“Yes and no,” Champion said. “SXSW is definitely the largest indie-oriented event in the country to date. However, SXSW is a largely a big-scale, major-label industry showcase for indies, which pretty much perpetuates the thinking that in order to be truly extraordinary or successful, one must be in bed with a major entertainment entity.

San Diego IndieFest is an outright celebration of every artist, band or filmmaker who is making incredible art on their own terms, without any major label backing nor influence. At IndieFest we educate the public on what being ‘indie’ really means on levels that expand far beyond the arts. It’s our endeavor to celebrate and advocate for independent music, film, art, business and thought.”

Not surprising, the sometimes quirky IndieFest (a couple years back, fangirl Champion brought in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actor-singers James Marsters and Amber Benson) reflects the perspective of the two women who pull it together each year.

“As full-time indie musicians ourselves,” LoPresti said, “we experienced first hand the complex and frustrating set of emotions every time someone would say, ‘Wow, you’re so great, why aren’t you guys famous yet?’”

“There are so many truly remarkable independent musicians and filmmakers out there who deserve to be recognized, who have so much to give, who are so phenomenal at what they do, but simply because they are indie — not represented by a major corporation with serious financial backing and contacts — they are relegated to various levels of obscurity.

“We felt we had two options: become more frustrated and eventually resentful, or pour all our passion into making a larger statement that encompassed the entire issue. So we’ve chosen to do all we can to make something positive out of our experiences.”

Event info
What:San Diego IndieFest VI
When: March 26 (film) and 27 (music)
Where: University Ave. between 29th and Ohio, North Park
Tickets: $22-$25
More: sdindiemusicfest.com

What: San Diego IndieFest VI Preview with Nomis, Collective Purpose, Danielle LoPresti & the Masses, Veronica May
When: 9:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26
Where: Anthology, 1337 India, downtown/Little Italy
Tickets: $10.

The Swedish Invasion V: If you act quickly, you might catch the Casbah show tonight (8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24; $15) by the lads hyped as “Sweden’s greatest home-grown rock band, worshipped around the world by other artists and bands, including Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Oasis,” The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Or as the group is officially known in these parts, thanks to a lawsuit a few years back by the miffed former “American Bandstand” host Dick Clark (he claimed the catchphrase as his own), The Soundtrack of Our Lives (TSOOL). Formed in Göteborg in or around 1996, TSOOL has seen its albums expand with its name; still, while “Communion,” its current double CD, “may sound nauseatingly bloated,” Pitchfork informs us, presumably talking about the concept rather than the music, “it actually breezes along with sing-along choruses, flashy guitars and hooky melodies. It’s like discovering some lost collaboration between ‘Lifehouse’-era Pete Townshend and ‘III’-era Led Zep.”

Cashing up on John R:

He died in 2003, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed down Johnny Cash. As the music icon, celebrated in a birthday show Friday (Feb. 26, when he would have turned 78) at the Belly Up Tavern headlined by local faves