By Michael Milano
San Francisco, CA (The Hollywood Times) 5/22/19- No other festival does a better job of pairing music and comedy than Clusterfest. Seamlessly integrating top of the line comedians with some of the best musicians in the biz is not an easy task, yet Clusterfest has knocked it out of the park in both its freshman and sophomore years. Now entering its third year, Clusterfest is fast becoming a must-go in the Bay Area Festival scene. This year Comedy Central has curated an even stronger, more diverse lineup than years past. Some festivals dabble with both comedy and music with several degrees of separation, but only at Clusterfest are the two performing arts so impeccably entwined.
At this year’s fest, John Mulaney, Patton Oswalt, and Issa Rae top the bill, along with seasoned comedic veterans like Sinbad, Todd Barry and Anthony Jeselnik. Some up and coming comedians are sprinkled across the festival grounds as well. Names like Ilana Glazer from the breakout Comedy Central show Broad City, Chris Redd (Saturday Night Live), and Fortune Feimster (Chelsea Lately/The Mindy Project) occupy the second tier of acts; however, a breakout performance at Clusterfest can change everything, and that’s part of the allure and excitement of this event. A big surprise is the inclusion of the massively popular “My Favorite Murder”, a podcast that lampoons the “true crime” genre that’s currently all the rage on platforms like Netflix. Other live podcasts include ‘R U Talkin R.E.M. RE: Me?’ where Adam Scott (Parks and Rec) and Scott Aukerman(Comedy Bang Bang) join forces to discuss the impact of R.E.M. had on the music community. Also ‘casting’ is ‘Lovett or Leave It’ starring Saturday Night Live Alumni Jon Lovett and ‘Pen Pals’ with Rory Scovel and Daniel Van Kirk.
At Clusterfest, relief from chuckle fatigue can be found on the dance floor courtesy of Alternative Hip-Hop/Neo Soul legends The Roots (The Tonight Show house band). Additionally, Indie/Alternative Rock star Courtney Barnett will shred the Clusterfest stage with her entrancing psychedelic sounds. International flavor comes courtesy of relative newcomers Japanese Breakfast whose specialty is experimental pop confections.
On the other side of the spectrum, legendary DJ – Girl Talk will play tons of his signature mash-ups; while Big Freedia and her industrial strength booty beats will also bring the mega-decibels. East Coast underground cred is provided by Boston DJs Soul Clap. Comedy/Music genre bender Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine) will be bringing his Music Comedy hybrid to the festival. Remember “Take Yo Panties Off” anyone? (From the movie “This is the end”)
THIS JUST IN: To add to the already stacked Clusterfest lineup, last minute additions include Friday night headliner Amy Poehler (Parks and Rec, SNL) performing a set with her friends along with fellow SNL alumni Fred Armisen (SNL, Portlandia) who will be bringing his strange, yet somehow charming blend of comedy and music to the festival, perfectly encapsulating the Clusterfest spirit. Other new additions to the lineup include Issa Rae performing a live read of Clueless, as well as writer and producer Neal Brennan (Chappelle’s Show, Get Him to The Greek).
The Hollywood Times looks forward to seeing all of these artists and more at the 3rd annual Clusterfest, June 21st-23rd in Downtown San Francisco.