The indie rock scene in New Orleans must sometimes feel like a lonely place, what with all the attention to jazz in its birthplace. But this weekend that scene is about to get a lot more company. The three-day alt music festival called "foburg" comes around again March 9-11, with a line-up of some 100 bands and not a single Dixieland combo among them.
This is a bit of a free-form festival. It’s not held at a festival grounds, per se, but rather it’s spread across a network of 15 bars, nightclubs and other venues. Most are centered in Faubourg Marigny, the source of the festival’s intentionally misspelled name. In this, it resembles SXSW, the massive alt-music festival that will be held next week in Austin, Texas – and that’s no coincidence.
The festival got its start in 2010 as a way to coalesce the energy of the many nationally touring bands and upstart groups from around the country headed to Austin for SXSW. A lot of them were looking for New Orleans gigs while en route anyway, so from this stream of talent coursing our way a new festival joined the local calendar, thanks to the work of the New Orleans Indie Rock (NOIR) Collective, a hub for local alt music.
Foburg has grown quite a bit since its start just three years ago, and for 2012 there are two new components to the festival: It will feature film and comedy.
The film portion, called "foburg.film," includes shorts and feature-length work by filmmakers from New Orleans and around the world. It will be shown at the Lost Love Lounge, Mimi’s in the Marigny and at an outdoor venue at 520 Frenchmen St., where on Friday night a screening of The Wizard of Oz will be synced with Pink Floyd’s album “Dark Side of the Moon” (this works so well it’s enough to inspire conspiracy theories). On Saturday, a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey will be remixed to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in the same spot. Friday also features a midnight screening at the Lost Love Lounge of Unheard Of, a documentary about New Orleans punk music directed by Jody Smith.
On the comedy front, foburg.comedy will function as a high-level introduction to the New Movement Theater, a comedy theater and workshop that opened just last week in the Marigny. The New Movement has already established itself as the node of resurgent comedy scenes in Austin and Houston, and now its founders are hoping to do the same with their new expansion in New Orleans. For foburg, acts begin Thursday with New York-based stand-up comedian John F. O’Donnell and continue Friday and Saturday with Sean Patton and friends, featuring Kyle Kinane, both of Comedy Central fame.
Of course, music remains the centerpiece of foburg, and the headliners for this year’s lineup include Maps & Atlases, Japanther, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, and Big Freedia, New Orleans’ own “Queen of Sissy Bounce.” Other local acts on the bill include Sun Hotel, Caddywhompus, Rotary Downs, Big History, Brass Bed, Helen Gillet, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Katey Red, Sissy Nobby, Jean-Eric and King Rey.
It adds up to an enormous diversity of music, art and entertainment spread across downtown this weekend. And even if some of it is a little different from the usual New Orleans beat, at least locals here are adept at pacing themselves for an ambitious festival schedule. I know you can keep up.
Weekend passes are $25. More details are available here.