Low End Theory is arguably the best weekly party in L.A., if not the entire the U.S. A veritable Valhalla for the beat scene’s elite producers and DJs, a seemingly inexhaustible breeding ground for emerging L.A. musicians (electronic, rap, jazz, etc.), and a retreat for decorated visitors — the sub-harmonic frequencies that shake the Airliner every Wednesday reverberate far beyond Lincoln Heights.
So it's no surprise that the second annual Low End Theory Festival is bigger than its inaugural iteration, featuring one of the most talented lineups of any summer music festival.
Scheduled for Saturday, August 8, this year’s headliners are Flying Lotus, Earl Sweatshirt and Thundercat. FlyLo is the beat scene's Coltrane; Sweatshirt released one of the most uncompromising and compelling rap records of 2015; Thundercat plays the bass like he communes with the non-temporal. In addition, the bill features all Low End Theory residents and a coterie of the weekly's renowned luminaries, including recent L.A. Weekly cover subject Nosaj Thing, Daedelus, Jonwayne and Milo (see below for flyer and full line-up).
As it did last year, the one-day festival will commence with a series of production workshops. However, this year also marks two major changes: Low End Theory Festival has partnered with Goldenvoice, and the festival has moved from the Echoplex to the Shrine Expo Hall.
To gain further insight into this year’s proceedings, we spoke with Low End co-founder and sonic savant Daddy Kev about partnering with Goldenvoice, the festival, and the future.
What does partnering with Goldenvoice mean to you and the festival?
Given the opportunity to partner with Goldenvoice for the Low End Theory Festival is a true blessing. In my humble opinion, they produce the best music festivals in the country [including Coachella and FYF]. Our initial meeting on the festival was with [Goldenvoice CEO] Paul Tollett, so it was immediately apparent that Goldenvoice was taking us seriously. That was one of the best days of my career, that first meeting.
Is your partnership with Goldenvoice solely for this year?
No, we plan on working with Goldenvoice on the festival initiative for many years to come. Hopefully forever.
What's the biggest structural change you've made this year?
On the booking side, we just went all-out. No holds barred. For the sound system, we are aiming for the largest subwoofer installation that has ever been attempted at the Shrine Expo Hall. I want it to feel like you're literally swimming in subharmonic bass.
Working with Goldenvoice gives us way more infrastructure. Last year it was basically Elvin [aka Low End Theory resident DJ Nobody] and I hashing it out. This year we have literally 10 more people on the team. What's especially great is that Goldenvoice has completely respected our curative vision for the festival. They really let us do our thing. I love them for that. And having someone like Goldenvoice SVP Lesley Olenik Galindo to build with — it's hard to imagine a better shepherd for our festival production. The whole experience has been very inspiring to me.
How many tickets do you plan on selling? Is that number higher than last year?
We will have roughly 4,700 tickets on sale for this year. Last year was 1,000 so it's a big jump.
Can attendees expect any surprise guests?
There's actually a few artists who we have confirmed for the festival, but we have to wait until July to announce. Proximity clause stuff. Might be some more surprise guests too. Fingers crossed.
Do you think you'll be able to retain the intimacy of a typical LET night in a space as large as the Shrine?
I don't think we can stay nearly as intimate as the Airliner, but that's not really the point. With the festival, we want to present our artists on a significantly larger scale. Goldenvoice has always been great at making large spaces feel more comfortable. We are certainly relying on them to help us in that regard.
The Goldenvoice partnership and change of venue are two big steps for the festival. What do you envision as the next step?
Definitely planning on expanding year-to-year. The ultimate idea is that the Low End Theory Festival becomes a 10,000-plus-person event. Commensurate with our attendance goals, we'd like to expand the scale of the bookings. Also we are trying to keep an overwhelming majority of the artist bookings as L.A. folks. It's also very important to keep the Low End Theory Festival located in the City of Los Angeles proper. Keep it close.
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Alex Perez & Eprom
Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
Low End Theory Residents (Daddy Kev, Nobody, The Gaslamp Killer, D-Styles, Nocando)
+ More TBA