The Freedom Thought Collective showcases multi-genre roster of bands at Freedom Thought Fest
After years of helping aspiring musical acts achieve their dreams, Eugene’s Sky Guasco and the Freedom Thought Collective, a local group of grass-root band managers, are now able to properly celebrate all of their hard work during a week-long, live music celebration: the Freedom Thought Fest.
Throughout the weekend, the Freedom Thought Collective teamed up with WildCraft Cider Works and Sam Bond’s Garage to host a plethora of live musical performances as part of their first festival. In addition to raising community awareness, the funds raised from the $10 admission fee will go right back into the FTC to invest further into their bands.
The festival kicked off on Friday, Sept. 14, with performances continuing on the 15th and 16th. The final show of the festival will be this Wednesday, Sept. 19.
The Freedom Thought Collective is a crew of impassioned contributors that help up-and-coming bands navigate through the murkiness of booking tours, finding transportation and employing marketing strategies, among other services. Where more traditional managers lack the experiences of being on the road and playing shows, Guasco is intimately familiar with the tour life.
For years, Guasco managed the Eugene-based reggae fusion band Sol Seed, a group that he played keyboard and vocals in.
“Once we started touring, we realized that we’re a D.I.Y. band from the beginning. I’ve always been the booking agent, the band manager out of necessity,” Guasco said. “Over the years, we learned how to do these things and it’s definitely not been easy, but it’s been extremely valuable now that we can look back on it.”
Over time, younger bands began reaching out to Guasco for guidance, and the Sol Seed keyboard and vocalist said he felt responsible to share the knowledge that he feels privileged for having.
“It does us no good to keep our knowledge close to the chest — that doesn’t help anybody grow,” he says. “But if we’re able to be that service for folks, we can help everybody grow.”
With that mindset, Freedom Thought Collective has grown into a sizable managing organization with 12 bands and 12 contributors in various spots around the country. And though his roster of performing acts spans across different genres of music, it’s the bands’ drive and passion that Guasco said ties them all together.
“I’ll get behind anybody that believes in themselves,” Guasco said.
And the Freedom Thought Fest was the perfect opportunity for the bands — and Guasco — to showcase what the collective is all about to the community that has supported them for years.
“We have kind of everything going on [at the fest,] and we’re pretty stoked to have all these different genres and musicians coming through,” Guasco said.
The festival’s featured performances began on Friday night at WildCraft as their funk and groove bands owned the stage. DJ Reggae Rob opened the night with a setlist of hip-hop and reggae breakbeats to get the atmosphere going in the venue’s upstairs loft.
The eclectic four-piece from Sacramento, California, ZuhG, offered its groovy takes of funk, reggae and folk for an hour while patrons danced along.
“I feel a real appreciation for music here in Eugene in the couple times that I’ve been here,” ZuhG guitarist Dylan Crawford said. “You never know what the general vibe of each city or each town is gonna be towards live music, and it seems to be really fertile, really dank here.”
Corvallis’ Despite The White closed the night with big band funk accented by enthralling bass lines and a section of five punchy horns. There was an element of child-like glee to their performance as they whipped through renditions of Luigi’s Mansion, Mario Kart soundtracks and the theme to Hey, Arnold!
Saturday night offered more indie and hip-hop-related acts to the WildCraft audience. The Creative Types played a mix of R&B ballads and lively hip-hop tracks to open up the night.
Smyth and Brax of the Breakfast Boys Leisure League followed this performance up with neck-snapping beats, a steady flow of bars and an outlandishly fun stage presence.
The Saturday performances came to a wonderfully charming conclusion with the Eugene-based band Laundry, who’s indie rock featured tinges of surf and blues. Coloso and Chiefed later performed at the Freedom Thought Fest after party at Sam Bond’s Garage, which celebrated 100 years of live music in Eugene.
FTC’s folk groups jammed at WildCraft on Sunday evening, as Laura Ivancie and Liz Chibucos of the band Far Out West delivered tasteful acoustic sets.
The Freedom Thought Fest will come to a close on Wednesday night, with the Collective rolling out its hand of exciting reggae bands. Carolina-based groups Treehouse! and Bubba Love will be opening up for Sol Seed to conclude the inaugural Freedom Thought Fest. The music will begin at 8 p.m. with a $10 cover at the entrance.
Guasco wants to remain realistic when it comes to the funds raised at his group’s Fest, but he holds the belief that success isn’t necessarily measured by how much money is made.
“I just think that people are gonna start looking around the room and be like ‘Wow, this is a good show,’” Guasco said. “That’s gonna lead to conversation, that’s gonna lead to questioning, that’s gonna lead to open arms and making new friends, and that’s what this is all about, man.”
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.