Local live music returns to Eugene this weekend, in a way, with WOW! What a Stream!, a free two-day live streaming music festival and fundraiser for the WOW Hall, the all-ages music venue shuttered recently by social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19.
As of this writing, 23 artists are confirmed on the bill, with more still in the works, says WOW Hall volunteer Gabriel Gonzaga-Valenzuela who, along with WOW Hall board members, staff members and volunteers, helped plan the event.
The concert will stream simultaneously across three platforms: Twitch, Facebook Live and YouTube, with donations to WOW Hall handled by Streamlab, an all-in-one live-streaming app. Many artists involved in the event will perform at the venue while others will play remotely, Gonzaga-Valenzuela says.
Although the lineup leans heavily on Eugene-based musicians, the virtual festival is headlined by The Mowgli’s, an L.A.-based group playing optimistic blue-sky indie pop bolstered by the soulful vocals of singer Katie Earl.
Facing restrictions on live music during the pandemic, The Mowgli’s embraced opportunities to live stream, guitarist and co-vocalist Josh Hogan says in an email. “We’ve always been flexible, and this is no different than any other situation we’ve had to navigate,” he says.
Connecting with fans is very important for the band, Hogan continues, “especially in this time when so many people are physically alone. We’re very lucky to have each other along with guitars and recording gear and everything we need for live streaming here at our house.”
The band jumped at the offer to help support an all-ages venue. “We all grew up in all-ages venues,” Hogan says. “Without all-ages venues, we wouldn’t be who we are today.”
Also performing at the virtual festival is Eugene-based electronic musician DJ Kellalit behind her debut EP The Queen’s Garden, as well as High Step Society and Eugene hip-hop duo Peacoat Gang, among many others.
In addition to the online fundraiser, WOW Hall has raised funds during the lockdown through member donations and by selling off extra alcohol from the bar. Both approaches were successful, but it didn’t raise nearly enough money to cover expenses.
“We’re battling about $6,000 in expenses, monthly,” Gonzaga-Valenzuela says, adding if the concert goes well, Eugene can expect more live streaming from the WOW Hall.
A junior at the University of Oregon, Gonzaga-Valenzuela says he hopes to work in the music business after graduation, though he’s not certain what his future looks like with the pandemic. “The world is a changed place, and it’s not looking good,” he says.
“This is going to be our revenue stream and our way to connect the artist to the fan for the foreseeable future,” Gonzaga-Valenzuela continues, adding that music venues like WOW Hall are gathering places for all ages and all walks of life, and no one wants to see them close.
Comparing live-streamed music to the traditional in-person concert experience, Gonzaga-Valenzuela admits, “It’s not the same, but we’re getting there. This is the evolution of live music.”
WOW! What a Stream! is 2 to 10 pm Friday and Saturday May 29 and 30 on Twitch, Facebook Live and YouTube. Free to view at twitch.tv/wowhall, donations encouraged. For more information and a complete lineup, search WOW! What a Stream! on Facebook.