Downtown Los Angeles boasts multiple free summer music series, including the concerts at Pershing Square and the Grand Performances schedule on Bunker Hill (on hiatus this year as the facility is renovated).
Then there’s FigFest, which manages the unique feat of being a corporate-run series — it is operated by Arts Brookfield, the cultural arm of the property giant — with a decidedly un-corporate lineup of emerging talent. The month-long program of Friday evening shows at the FIGat7th shopping center begins this week with Los Angeles alt-rock star Cherry Glazerr. Upcoming acts at the 1,600-capacity space include rapper Oddissee and electronic duo Buscabulla. Every event includes DJs and an opening act.
Erica Overskei, program manager for arts and events with Arts Brookfield, spoke with Downtown News about the series.
Los Angeles Downtown News: Was FigFest started more to activate a shopping mall, or was the mall the best venue for a music festival?
Erica Overskei: It originally started as a way to activate Downtown in general, and using a property that was tied to Brookfield Properties. That was sort of the main impetus for FigFest. It’s grown since then. The initial success has allowed it to evolve and become a regular draw.
Q: The lineup is full of independent acts instead of mainstream or mass-appealing names. What goes into choosing performers?
A: L.A. has so many different realities that exist within it. Depending on your zip code, they all live very differently. Whenever I’m approaching the FigFest lineup, I want something that’s representative of different genres that showcase the diversity of the city. We can’t represent every genre, so the first step is finding ones that would fit at FigFest. We can’t do death metal, for instance.
Q: At the end of the day, this is a music series at a shopping mall next to a food court. Does that present a hurdle for getting people to FigFest?
A: There are definitely a couple of hurdles. It’s really not a music venue; we have to bring in a stage and sound system. In terms of the general public, they don’t really expect it. But once they get there it’s a really good scene. It’s a nice little pocket that’s pushed back from Figueroa Street. There are trees, lighting; it has this kind of backyard vibe in the epicenter in Downtown Los Angeles.
FigFest runs every Friday, June 7-28, at FIGat7th, 750 S. Figueroa St. or artsbrookfield.com.