Reclaiming Alternative: Why Don Giovanni’s festival is what the music world needs right now

Pinkwash | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Joe Steinhardt doesn’t mince words. The way he sees it, music festivals are destroying music.

“What I’ll dub the festival industrial complex is the antithesis of what music culture – of what culture – really is,” says the co-founder of the New Brunswick, NJ based punk label Don Giovanni Records.

“It’s basically a bunch of corporate sponsors and corporate bands being shuffled around through a couple booking agencies,” he says. “And that’s why you’ll see, every city, every festival has the same lineup. It’s sort of feels like what happened with radio. Clear Channel bought up all the stations and radio feels the same everywhere. ‘Look at all these local festivals!’ But it’s the same goddam bands playing every one, right?”

Steinhardt thinks there can and should be another way. This weekend, the New Alternative Music Festival kicks off at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, New Jersey. A stacked lineup of DIY favorites will play the venue over the course of two days, with after-parties at Asbury Park Yacht Club and Angosta Lounge.

Appearing are indie scene heavy-hitters: Friday night’s bill is led by Screaming Females, Ought and a reunion of P.S. Eliot (the original project of sisters Katie and Allison Crutchfield of Waxahatchee and Swearin’); on Saturday, Downtown Boys, Girlpool and Laura Stevenson cap off the event. Numerous Philly-regional acts are in the mix as well: Pinkwash, Trophy Wife, Moor Mother, Radiator Hospital.

Most notably: there are no corporate sponsorships. No stages “powered by” such-and-such energy drink. No car company logos on Snapchat filters and merch booths. Steinhardt’s goal was to create a true alternative to the corporate megafestival that has, over the past decade, come to dominate how fans experience live music — and how musicians make their living. Continue reading →


Girlpool, Radiator Hospital, Screaming Females and more to play Don Giovanni Records music fest

don giovanni records
Girlpool | photo by Simon Klein for WXPN

Don Giovanni Records has announced an anti-establishment festival of sorts, set to take place September 16th to the 18th at the Asbury Park, NJ Convention Hall. The New Alternative Music Festival will celebrate truly independent artists in a truly independent way, with no corporate sponsorship backing the event.

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Going outdoors with Screaming Females, Shellshag at Don Giovanni Records showcase

Screaming Females | Photo by Chris Sikich |
Screaming Females | Photo by Chris Sikich |

To spend the last Saturday of summer outside in beautiful weather is a must. But to get live music with the sun and warmth is even better. Throw in some punk and indie rock sensibilities and you get last weekend’s Don Giovanni Records showcase at Boyd Park in New Brunswick, New Jersey. With the Raritan River as a stunning backdrop, the awesome forces of Screaming Females, Shellshag and six other bands were quite a treat. Continue reading →