While anxiety rides high over Oakland's tech-infused future, a number of festivals have cropped up whose goals include preserving the elusive "soul of Oakland" -- the Life is Living festival, the Oakland Music Festival, Oakland Drops Beats, Heiro Day and more.
But it's Feels -- a semi-regular party thrown by Wine & Bowties which returns Saturday, Nov. 28 -- that, well, feels the most like Oakland.
During the last Feels party in July, at American Steel Studios in West Oakland, I made my way among hundreds of revelers under a moonlit makeshift bar, large-scale art, a food truck and DJs. Inside, through the resident studios, over a dozen artists showcased art on warehouse walls, from the folk murals of Bud Snow to Marilyn Rondon's exhibit of responses (link NSFW) to her "Latina lookin' for a thug to make a baby with" post on Craigslist.
As the warehouse stage hosted a steady stream of who-to-know Oakland artists (including rappers Tia Nomore and Ezale) and Chicago footwork DJs, I thought to myself how fluidly Wine & Bowties' parties connect, perhaps unknowingly, with West Oakland's long tradition of semi-sanctioned warehouse parties. From the former Phoenix Ironworks and New Method Laundromat warehouses in the 1980s to the East Nile, Black New World, the Crucible and beyond, there's long been a sense of artistic freedom in West Oakland, and it infused Feels' sold-out July event in all the best ways.
Were it on any other Saturday, Feels IV would already be sold out, but the upcoming holiday weekend means $30 tickets are still available; get them if you can. Appearing are Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth, San Jose rapper Antwon (who gets sad watching sea lions), Atlanta darkwave singer Abra, and over a dozen other musicians and DJs. The zine and visual art lineups are equally staggering (including art by Michelle Guintu, pictured above). Tie it all together and you have the pure soul of Oakland. Details here.