Broke L.A., the music and arts festival once known as Brokechella, was founded in 2011 as a low-budget alternative to its exhausting, bank-breaking inspiration out in the desert. Now, six years later, Broke L.A. — which officially announces its lineup today — has a different name, and for the first time this year, a slightly different approach.
Calling their popular event a “true discovery fest,” Broke L.A. organizers say they are “doubling down” on showcasing local talent in addition to supplying an affordable festival alternative. Case in point: Starting this year, Broke L.A. will no longer go head-to-head with Coachella. This year’s Broke L.A. festivities are scheduled for April 8, a week before Coachella begins. Organizers say they hope holding the event on a separate weekend will attract more members of the music industry to see the up-and-coming acts they have booked. The change also will allow artists to play at Broke L.A. and at any of the myriad parties and showcases surrounding Coachella.
“We [were] making our artists and the people who could help them in their career choose between us and Coachella, and that was not really fair,” says Negin Singh, artistic director at cARTel: Collaborative Arts L.A., the main organization producing the festival. “We feel strong enough about who we are that we can have our own weekend, and we don’t have to be tied to Coachella.”
The festival is co-produced by Brownies and Lemonade, Shifty Rhythms and Department 4.
Another change: This year’s event will be held at 4560 Worth St., an empty lot in East L.A. — a bit of a switch for the festival, which has largely become associated with downtown L.A. and the Arts District. CARTel projects this year’s attendance could reach between 7,500 and 10,000, a significant bump from last year’s 5,500-strong crowd.
This year’s indie pop– and electronic-leaning lineup is topped by headliner James Supercave, the buzzy Echo Park psychedelic pop band and KCRW favorite.
Other acts spread across the four music stages include heavy surf-pop act Bloodboy, spacey troubadours Boyo (whom earlier this year we acknowledged as a band to watch in 2017), funk-punk band Thumpasaurus, indie electronic producer CRNKN and San Diego rapper John Givez. (Check out the full lineup below.)
The event is acknowledgement “that the scene is here, and we wouldn’t be here without it, and there’s a lot of talent [in L.A.] that doesn't get the proper recognition they deserve,” says Patrick Logothetti of James Supercave. “A lot of people who can’t afford going to a Beyoncé show at Staples Center can still be part of great, vibrant art.”
Like last year, the festival also features a dedicated comedy stage, headlined by Kyle Kinane and curated by local comedians Omid Singh and Robbie Kirkhuff and producer Chelsea Quinn. It also has a dog adoption event, Bark L.A. and a civic engagement project called Same Sky.
The festival is taking a slightly different approach to music programming this year, too, doing away with the genre-specific stages in favor of a more eclectic experience. “The stages will still have feels to them — it won’t be jarring — but you wil see diversity, and a story being told about the musc scene in general,” Negin Singh says.
Singh says this year's festival will put a significant focus on art installations, including a “whimsical playground buildout” for each of the five stages.
As for the future of Broke L.A., Singh says she foresees a time when the festival will stop growing — she says the idea isn’t to become another major L.A.-based festival. (She cites FYF, which like Broke L.A. started small but ballooned into a major fest, as an example of what cARTel doesn’t want to do.) Instead — depending on how this year’s fest turns out — she says cARTel is considering expanding the event to other cities.
“We want to keep that discovery [theme], so we do see there being a cap for audience growth — sticking around where we are right now, with maybe a little more growth,” she says. “But our eventual goal is to possibly launch Broke in different cities — Broke New York, Broke Austin, Broke San Francisco — and really being able to celebrate and cultivate and give a platform to artists in those cities the way we have in L.A.”
Complete lineup below. For tickets and more information on this year's festival, visit brokelafest.com.
Jungle Gym Stage
Curated by: cARTel
Curated by: Brownies & Lemonade
Bounce House Stage
Curated by: Shifty Rhythms
Ball Pit Stage
Curated by: cARTel
Velvet (Formerly known as Emily Gold)
Curated by: Omid Singh, Chelsea Quinn, Robbie Kirkhuff
Zach Noe Towers
Mick Papp Johnson