Premiering as a first of its kind pop-up festival in the San Fernando Valley, a varied group of multitalented individuals came together to make the inaugural HellaChella Music Festival a monumental success.
Snuggled in the unexpected neighborhood of West Hills, Calif., first-time festival producers Jed Fuchs and Mel Williams turned an ordinary backyard into a beautifully built dwelling for music buffs to descend upon. From the top-notch selection of up-and-coming artists, DJs, and breathtaking lighting, to the professionally built stage, sound, cameramen, and of course the crowd of excited party-goers, the festival met and far exceeded the expectations of all in attendance.
“It was an awesome experience getting to listen to these new bands,” said fashion designer Kianna Shann. “It was great to see people coming together for the love of music.”
Choosing to highlight local artists, HellaChella opened the show with an acoustic guitar performance from singer/songwriter Juno Rada shortly after sunset. The feel-good, care-free vibe of his music effortlessly set the stage for the evening and the crowd was very receptive to his unique sound and impressive vocal ability.
Rada began his set with two cover songs “Wayfaring Stranger” and “PDA” by John Legend and graced the crowd with two unreleased songs of his own—“What I Got” and “3 Cents.”
“It was a really special moment to be able to share my music with everyone, and the response from people; them telling me how much they liked my music was really amazing,” said Rada.
“When I do these kinds of shows, often it is a bunch of random artists thrown together and sometimes the quality of the overall show turns out bad. But with HellaChella, every act was so dope. I had actually planned to leave right after my set, and I don’t usually listen to heavy metal, but that band was incredible.”
Juno Rada’s music can be found on his website www.junorada.com where visitors are treated to a free download of his new song “Good Girl.”
Possibly the most high-energy act of the evening, Rada was referring to Rane Matthew, Alex Parker, Paul Abrahamian, Gene Pietragallo, Jon Halabe, and Antonio Ocegueda who make up the Post Hardcore band Reviver. The group transformed the space into nothing short of a heavy metal rock concert—so much so that ahead of their performance they had to warn against mosh pits, which would have undoubtedly occurred if not for their preemptive plea.
“They were sick!” exclaimed Kevon Carr, who is usually more of a Hip hop fan. “They had me hype in a way that I’m usually not.” The mixed crowd shared Carr’s sentiments with even new fans screaming for an encore after the band finished its last song.
“Honestly, the feedback and interaction from the crowd was phenomenal,” said Abrahamian, guitarist for Reviver. “Regardless of the artists we’re playing with, or the different types of people in the crowd, we always give it our all and try to put on the best show that we possibly can. Fortunately, all that it takes for us to do that, is to have fun; and if you know us, then you know that we always fking have fun!”
The group performed some of their favorites, “Primer,” “Something to Believe In,” “Wanderer,” “Here & Now,” and “M30” from an upcoming album.
“We were very impressed with HellaChella” said Abrahamian. “Jed and Mel put on an amazing event and it blew our expectations out of the water. We all had so much fun and we would love to play at the festival again if it came around a second time. Good vibes, fun energy, and great production.”
Music from Reviver can be found at www.facebook.com/reviverofficial and www.youtube.com/user/ReviverOfficial.
Solo and Tha Greenhouse Projeks, hit the stage with a nostalgic Hip Hop vibe that stood out from all of the other performances; reminding the crowd that the genre, in its purest form, had not been forgotten. The group performed “From the Heart,” “Savagely Attack,” and “What’s an MC,” which will be featured on their album scheduled for release on Sept. 30. Follow up with the group at www.facebook.com/THAGREENHOUSEPROJEKS.
DJ Jamo, the official DJ of streetwear and culture brand Dream Urban, ensured that no one would be standing still once his set began, spinning many of the newest hits and even throwing in a few throwback tracks for good measure. DJ Rkie (pronounced rookie), representing one-third of the artist collective OldSouls, provided an explosive EDM set with an unmatched level of energy.
“I’m usually in a Hip Hop environment when I DJ but to see everyone vibe-ing out to each other’s music was really cool,” said Jamo. “It was my first time working with Mel who is a dope person; I thought he hosted a great festival.”
To hear music from DJ Jamo, visit soundcloud.com/jamothedj and visit DreamUrbanCulture.com and Instagram @DreamUrban to keep up with the brand.
“It was really eye-opening to see so much talent in our region of L.A.,” said DJ Rkie. “Many of us went to high school together and it’s great to see each other succeeding in different parts of the city like Hollywood, L.A. and Long Beach, but nobody has brought an event like HellaChella to our own backyard. So it was cool to represent with everyone face to face.”
Williams, who moonlights as a DJ himself, couldn’t resist the opportunity to hop on stage and close out the show revving up the energy once more and leaving the crowd elated with the announcement that this would not be the last show from HellaChella.
“I felt like a child that night,” said singer/songwriter DC. “I felt like in that moment, anything was possible.”
Presented as a free festival—complete with a shuttle to and from the event, a food truck, an open bar, and while simultaneously taking on the unprecedented task of recording live music videos for all of the performers—it took the volunteer efforts of many to bring this ambitious undertaking to fruition.
“We accomplished this as a collective. It was truly a collective movement,” said Fuchs. “We used our skill set and what we have learned from working together in production and brought in others in the industry to help accomplish what we couldn’t. The support from everyone exceeded our expectations.”
A surprisingly smooth meshing of music fans of differing genres, Williams credits the artists for helping to bring in a diverse crowd.
“We handpicked the acts, and knew that they would collectively bring fans of their own music. We wanted it to be different than the types of festivals you usually see where everyone is into the same thing, and we delivered on that,” he said.
“HellaChella was greater than the sum of its parts,” said Fuchs. “Between our networks of influence and the performers we selected, it became an amalgamation of different cultures and styles that hasn’t really been seen before.”
When asked about the future… “It’s never too soon to say when the next HellaChella will be; it’s just too soon to say right now,” Fuchs laughed. “We want to continue to make the festival accessible, but still blown over the top. Accessible yet manageable.”
“It was amazing to have this dream, and then watch it become a reality. We wouldn’t change anything about it…except maybe adding a lion or a tiger next time,” Williams joked.
But with the way the team pulled out all of the stops for its debut; we wouldn’t put it past them.
To see photos and videos and to keep up with future plans for HellaChella visit facebook.com/pages/HellaChella/328576423968534?ref=stream or on Instagram #HellaChella.