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Friday, December 10, 2010

Acrobatics Everyday Rocks Irvine

By: Mariam Jehangir

October 2 was the first show that Acrobatics Everyday - a group in UC Irvine that organizes and hosts concerts on campus year round- held for the Fall 2010 quarter at UCI. At 7:00 on that Saturday night, the campus seemed lonely, quiet, and relatively dark. This made the task of finding the Social Sciences Trailer – which is where the event was to be held at – even more difficult for people, especially those who were not too familiar with the campus. Once located, the low-profile classroom trailer seemed to match the quiet feel of the rest of the surrounding campus area. Inside room 103 however, a transformation was taking place. A couple of girls sat inside the small room, chatting away by a ticket/money box. Acrobatics Everyday T-shirts, as well as CDs of the night’s performers were laid out over a few tables that were pushed together as a make-shift display rack. Soon more of the concert organizers started arriving with equipment and Sam Farzin, the lead person of the group, came on to the scene while giving directions to one of the bands that was to perform that night. In only about an hour, the classroom chairs were all pushed to the back of the room, the floor was opened up for the piano, microphone, drum-set and the big JBL speakers, and the quiet room from earlier was now a concert venue, buzzing with about 25 people made up of audience members, Acrobatic Everyday organizers, and the night’s bands. The rest of the night was centered around the music. In order of appearance, the night’s bands were Nima, Stay Cool Forever, Glochids, and Yellow Canary Black Belt. Breaks of about 10 minutes in between each band provided for a good stretch, socializing, run to the bathroom, or a few puffs of cigarettes outside the room. And then the next band, each rife with a completely different tune from the one before would go up to perform.

This is the general feel of an Acrobatics Everyday concert. However, each one of these concerts is different that the one before it in terms of performers. At 100 shows in the time span of 3 years, there have been a whole range of different performers (256 to be precise) – each with different sounds, performance styles, personalities – but there are some things that seem to run along the same thread at each event. One of the most evident ones is how Sam and his group run these events.

Fast Forward to November 19, 2010. We are standing outside talking to Sam as he and the other organizers get ready for another show. “We’re not a big company; we don’t hire people to do the leg work. It’s all us” he says as he pulls a dolly out of the Sudan, to move the equipment into the make-shift concert room. The concerts are usually set up in classrooms all around campus, a practice which earned the group OC weekly’s award for “Best Non-Educational Use of a Classroom” in 2009. Tonight’s concert – part of a 2 day show, near the end of the Fall 2010 quarter , entitled Open Melody- it is being held at a different place than usual: The Cross Cultural Center. Like always, the group is there well before show time to set up the stage, get the equipment in working order, set up the ticket table, and lay out the Acrobatics Everyday T-shirts as well as any CD’s from the night’s performers that the audience might want to buy.

“Yeah, we promote the band, but people have become fans of the group itself – so why not?” Sam says, while chuckling when asked about the T-Shirts. And customer comments on review websites like yelp.com seem to agree with this statement. One comment regards Sam and his group-mates as “easily the best people putting on shows in the southern California area.”

While Acrobatics Everyday members go about their regular duties to prep for shows, a trend among customers also becomes apparent. People start gathering around the concert room about 15 minutes before show time, socialize with other concert go-ers, smoke cigarettes, and talk about the upcoming show. In between performers, there is usually a 5-10 minute break and people use this time to go back outside to stretch, smoke some more, or do whatever else they want to. Janice Aliva, a UCI alumna says “I’ve been going to these concerts for about two years now and I love the atmosphere among the crowd as much as I love the shows themselves. The gathering before the show, between performers, and after wards is as much an experience as the music is.”

While Sam and a couple of other guys set up the room and give bands directions to the venue, 2 of the other organizers in the group – Katie and Emily- sit by the door with the ticket box. Most events cost $5 to get into the show, although tonight’s performance costs a little more. This two day Open Melody event features 23 artists. Both days cost $14 dollars, or about half for those who want to attend just one of the days. “Bottom line is, the acts need to get paid,” one of the girls says “We don’t charge much at all. We’re probably one of the most affordable forms of entertainment around. That’s something that keeps fans hooked too. Value. More bang for your buck.” And since the money goes mostly to the bands –they’ve made and kept extra money only a few times – it is evident that the members of Acrobatics Everyday do what they do purely for the love of music, not for money.

Soon after the venue is set up, the bands begin to arrive. As sound check begins, audience members start to gather inside. Since there is mostly a half an hour gap between the posted show time and the time when it actually begins, audience members have learned to use the sound check as a signal that the show is about to start. This is also the time when Sam and the other group members are busy making sure all the equipment is working, and conducting final tests on everything that is to be used for the show.

When everything is ready to go, the audience is in place, the band members are ready to perform, and the Acrobatics Everyday members feel time to begin the show has come, the regular lights get turned off, and the show lights get turned on. These lights can be anything from flashing strobe lights, to neon lights of several different colors, to even disco ball lights. The members of Acrobatics Everyday finally begin to relax and join the viewers of the show. Audience usually gets up close to the artist and then the music begins. The act determines the reaction of the audience. While one band may cause a spectator to sway side-to-side in calmness while seated on the floor, another may cause the same spectator to jump wildly up and down in rhapsody. This is the case during many shows. One of the performers from the first performance of the Fall 2010 quarter, Nima, is in attendance during tonight’s show.

She says “I see many of the same faces here tonight as I saw the night I performed. The people who were front and center in the mosh pitt a few minutes ago are the same ones who were quietly snapping their fingers to my melodies. I mean these people aren’t here for just one type of artist or one type of music – they’re here for the whole show experience. That’s the power of music.”

Sometimes during the show, technical difficulties arise. During these moments, a very intimate act takes place. Instead of asking the audience to give the crew sometime to figure it out, Acrobatics Everyday members and band members try to figure out what happened and find a way to fix it, right in front of the audience. On day 1 of the 2-day festival, one of the acts needed the microphone to be lowered to about 3 feet above ground level while she played the piano on the floor. After a few failed attempts to get the mike to do so on its stand, another one of the artists just decided to hold the microphone in her hand while the first artist performed. At another moment, there were problems with the lights and as the artist kept on singing, Sam and some other guys got up calmly and worked on the lights and sat back down like nothing out of place had happened. “Problems arise, you just have to roll with it…it comes with the territory. Actually is just another part of the experience,” one of the organizers whispers to someone. The show continues.

By the end of each show, the five factors offered on forestfire.com as the 5 reasons why these shows are so great- all ages are welcome, there is an eclectic lineup, good value, offers a unique experience, and offers the opportunity to meet new friends- all prove to be true.

Sam Farzin seems to agree to these while adding “At the end of these shows people are tired, exhausted, half-way deaf and smell pretty bad – but there are big smiles on everyone’s faces. That’s what makes it all worth it man.”

Reporting Notes:

-23 hours of concert attendance

-One lengthy sit-down interviews

-5 shorter, at-event interviews

- Forest Fire website:


- OC weekly website:


- Yelp! Website:


-Acrobatics Everyday Website: