Nothing to Do in Fresno? (Ill Zee Will performs on the Mariposa North stage)
If you were not at the corner of Malls Fulton and Mariposa on Saturday, April 4, you missed one hell of a good time. Music played, beer flowed, food was chowed, people danced, and the sun gazed down, grinning upon it all. Catacomb Party 2015 is the third such event, and with nearly 80 performing acts—both local and national—proved an even greater feat than 2013’s monster congregation. According to Catacomb organizer, Mathr de León, this year saw approximately 10,000 in attendance!
The music started at noon and continued into early Sunday morning. Venues up and down Fulton Mall—from Peeve’s Public House to Tioga-Sequoia Brewing’s Beer Garden—hosted bands, poetry, DJs, and open mics. A pop-up skate park atop a nearby parking garage hosted skateboarders of all skill levels. A beer garden in the middle of it all served Tioga-Sequoia’s Catacomb Brew, a vanilla saison concocted and brewed specifically for the Party, and plenty of gourmet food trucks held court for festival goers. Catacomb is definitely no small-time music fest.
Of course, if you were there for the last Catacomb Party in 2013, you definitely noticed the difference in size for 2015. As spread out as it was, the closeness of 2013’s Party was missing, giving it an overall less communal feel—felt by not only this reviewer, but also noticed by organizers. While the venues, acts, and other attractions were still great, and crowds were likely larger, just the fact that there was a good half-mile between the furthest points, including a completely unutilized stretch of Fulton Mall between Tulare and Inyo Streets, will thin out the best of attendances. De León says that this will be addressed before next year’s event
And, yes, you read that right, there will indeed be a Catacomb Party in 2016! When asked what might be different next year, de León offered that though they have had such huge success with an all-volunteer staff, in order for Catacomb to continue the exponential growth seen thus far, Catacomb’s future is “in a well-trained and properly compensated staff of industry professionals.” Placing the needs and liability on the volunteers won’t be fair as the event grows more and more. And isn’t that a great thing for Fresno? This hugely successful event will be creating precious jobs downtown! As de León says, “The point is to generate economy, not drain it.” From the looks of it, Catacomb will be generating greatness to come for the foreseeable future.
Good luck to the organizers! We will see you there in 2016!