On Friday and Saturday, the Twin Moon Arts Collective, a record label and community organization, hosted its third annual Strange Adventures music festival at St. Stephan’s Church in Columbia Heights. The festival was a celebration of the eclectic greater D.C. music scene, with several Montgomery County-based bands performing.
The festival spanned two days featuring 22 bands on two stages with over 300 people attending, according to organizers. Music ranged from D.C. hardcore punk, Silver Spring trap and everything in between.
The musicians welcomed this diversity as a chance to present their music to different audiences. “Playing a festival like this where it is not just hardcore punk is a lot more interesting since we get to meet people who have never experienced this style of music,” said Rael Griffin, frontman of Takoma Park-based Punk Band Bust Off.
Silver Spring’s vibrant hip-hop scene was front and center. Rappers Mike of Doom and Kasey Jones got the crowd to dance and rap to their catchy hooks and bouncy beats. The two traded verses and ad-libs. The night’s final act was Silver Spring super group, 8HUNDRED, comprising of Jones and seven other local rappers.
The majority of participants were high school and college students. One notable collection of elders was The Skipps, a band made up of two teachers from Richard Montgomery High School. This guitar and drum duo blended live rock with vocal snippets from old TV shows and public-address announcements.
“Seeing young people with the initiative to put something like this together is beyond inspiring,” said guitarist and Richard Montgomery English teacher Keith Anderson, “I do not think they are learning it from school; ultimately, I believe it comes from a community that supports the arts.” The first two Strange Adventures festivals took place at Takoma Park’s VFW Veterans Club. The venue was small, and when membership in Twin Moon Arts Collective doubled last year, the two founders, Dio Cramer and Jasper Saah, agreed that it was time to expand.
“After the first festival, we solidified our goals to create art and spread messages we believe in. We focus on women and queer people who are ignored by the music scene in general” Saah Said.
To do so, they contacted Positive Force DC, an activist group that has hosted benefit concerts since 1985.
Positive Force, a tenant in St. Stephan’s Church, lent Twin Moon the building for the show which gave the Collective much-needed space. “Positive Force has always been a laboratory for youth artists and activists to sharpen their tools. We provide the support that is needed and get out of the way,” co-founder and author Mark Jackson said.
Several charities split the proceeds from the festival, including Earth Justice a nonprofit legal advocate representing hundreds of environmental organizations, and Casa Ruby, a bilingual LGBT organization.
“I felt like by contributing to this festival I did more to contribute to a good cause then throwing a couple of bucks in a bucket,” said Max Gilder, drummer for Silver Spring metal band Aethos.