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Venues in Riverside crowded with musicians and music lovers alike during the annual Saturation Fest, an event showcasing the rich diversity of talented artists living in Southern California, especially from the Inland Empire. A few days before the festival, LA Weekly published an article applauding the efforts of a few individuals involved with the festival. The author-outsider looked into the Riverside community as an idyllic refuge, away from the competition and high cost of living in Los Angeles. But having lived in Riverside since my tender alterna-tween years, I see things a little differently.
It’s important to note that the Inland Empire extends far beyond Riverside, where Saturation Fest is hosted. Many folks tend to gloss over the fact that it includes less whitebread areas like Fontana, Hemet, Murrieta, Temecula, or (God forbid!) Moreno Valley, all of which continue to witness a variety of DIY events more bizarre and outlandish than your average Weiner Records lover could fathom. A close examination of the festival’s lineup reveals just how many musical factions have populated the area over the last few years—there is no single genre uniting them, just a handful of familiar area codes.
And so, despite the article’s best efforts to convey a scene of diversity and exceptionalism, there was no mention of the labels that have been operating in the area for years on end, labels like Popgun, Family Time, Not Punk, Juniper Tree Songs, or Bridgetown. No mention of the all-ages DIY venues that have come and gone, and left their marks on us—The Dial in Temecula, Black Flame in San Bernardino, and the Blood Orange in Riverside all closed their doors within six months of one another. Of course, these were definitely too underground for an LA Weekly music journalist to sniff out.
Saturation Fest’s (lack of) coverage until now is just proof of how little the outside world (read: Los Angeles) knows or cares about what happens here, unless the outside world wants to relish a bit of self-hate for the clicks and comments. If you live here and you’re looking for the true freaks, the people that really don’t give a fuck about “making it” in the world of college rock journalists and out-of-touch music editors, you don’t need to look far at all. But they do. - Graeme Crane & Ryan Mo, photo by Goyo Paguaga