The Untitled Interview #127 – STPP Fest Edition: Starring Todd Koren (The Last Monarchs)

DC has, for some time now, not really been in love with festivals. Folks have tried, sure, but there is a substantial void in the festival scene when it comes to the “indie” scene. Fuzzy Logic’s brother blog, Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie, is valiantly trying to give the people what they want: a legit (and FREE!) festival. And with 120+ bands playing over 2 days, there’s a lot to look forward to. Did I mention the freeness? Cuz yeah. It’s one hundred percent FREE. The STPP Fest is June 4-5, with a pre-party June 3. Check the official site for all the pertinent details.

DC definitely has a certain reputation when it comes to musical output. The ghosts of hardcore past (not to mention go-go, y’all) loom large over today’s musical scene. Sure, tons of bands are out there making killer music inspired by the kings of DC loudness. But there’s some bands doing things a little differently. Like The Last Monarchs. When I first saw the band live last year, they covered “Folsom Prison Blues” and promptly won me over to their cause. The sound of The Last Monarchs is a little twangy, a little stringy, and a whole lotta lovely. Drummer Todd Koren had the following to say about DC festivals, the scene, and Ben’s (which, by the way, really needs to be considered for historic national landmark status).

Fuzzy Logic: Why do you think it’s been so hard to get a festival going here in DC?
Todd Koren: DC is such an odd town when it comes to music, and there just isn't the feeling of a tightknit "scene" here. This city will always have the history of the hardcore scene in the 80s and 90s, but modern times have not been kind for any one developing musical movement. You've got Jazz, Punk, Indie, Reggae, Folk, Dance Music and Metal bands all trying their hardest to make it in a town that just doesn't have music as a priority. In addition, it’s so transient here; people come and go, and no one thinks of it as a mecca for music like they would New York or Nashville. It’s been very exciting the last few years seeing people really trying to make this an important stop for touring musicians; people like Will Eastman at U Street Music Hall, Dave with STPP, etc.

FL: Band you're most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
TK: Don't accuse me of a cop-out, but we in the band are just really excited to see all of these bands from DC whom we've never played with or met! It’s a great opportunity for the District and Northern Virginia to show off the great music that's being created here.

FL: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or member of the general public?
TK: I remember some of the HFStivals of the late 90s/early 2000s from when I was in high school, as well many local festivals in Virginia, like FloydFest. Festivals were the best concerts to go to: tons of new bands to learn about, amazing people all over the place, and a sense of lawlessness because there were SO MANY people in one spot.

FL: What would you advise the out-of-towners to see/do while they’re in DC?
TK: Three words: Ben’s. Chili. Bowl. Also, catch the Metro into Clarendon and go to the Galaxy Hut for beverages.

FL: Favorite thing about festivals?
TK: Bands playing songs together and the chance to discover something new, whether it be a new band or a new genre of music that you didn't even know you liked.


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