Indie-clad First City Festival Bringing Big Names to the Monterey Bay

MGMT, Passion Pit, Neko Case and Modest Mouse are among the big names that will fill the small city of Monterey, Calif. this coming weekend for the first two-day First City Festival, an event promoters hope will be become annual.

The indie-clad music festival, put on by Goldenvoice, is named after Monterey’s claim of being the first official capital of California, as well as many other first contributions to the state.

The show will kick off on Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the Monterey County Fair and Event Center, continuing on Aug. 25 from 1-11 p.m. again. 

Headliners and indie-favorites Passion Pit and Modest Mouse are expected to attract as many as 10,000 music fans to the debut of this Central Coast festival.   Over 30 artists –including MGMT, Beach House and Neko Case– are set to perform on three different stages throughout the two days.

Passion Pit will close day one of the festival and will also hold a DJ set at one of the FCF official afterparties the same night. The Massachusetts indie-pop band infuses lyrical depth with synthpop melodies and playful beats that allow you to let loose and eccentrically dance as you sing along to their infectious tunes. Check out their video for their 2012 single, “Take a Walk.”

Modest Mouse, long-time indie veterans will close off the festival on Sunday. Going on 20 years of being an active band, Modest Mouse's experimental rock melodies featuring specifically tousled tunes have carried them through.  Appealing to the mainstream in slight ways, Lupe Fiasco sampled their 2004 single “Float On” for his 2010 single “The Show Goes On” and gained even more popularity.

Other notable artists are 2008 favorites MGMT, the psychedelic rock duo who skyrocketed to popularity with their single “Kids” dominating the airwaves and many movie soundtracks, and Quadron, the Danish neo-soul duo that is sure to make your hips sway rhythmically as you sing along to their single “Hey Love.”

As well as Capital Cities, whose dance anthem "Safe and Sound" will have you with your hands in the air and body bobbing to the synthpop melody and recurrent beat.

For more choice songs check out this playlist of First City Festival artists.

Unlike the recent Outside Lands festival of San Francisco, First City offers a more indie-pop and rock focused lineup without such a mainstream or broad spectrum of genres infused to the festival.  This allows more room for an eclectic pick of bands within an overarching genre.

“The kind of lineup we wound up with is not exactly mainstream," David Lefkowitz, VP of Booking for Goldenvoice SF, said in regards to choosing the lineup.  

"I think, you know, Monterey is an extremely unique place; so are plenty of the places nearby like Santa Cruz. I guess I think of Santa Cruz as the opposite of mainstream.” 

Another standout element First City offers is the full-service carnival within the festival.  After a much-successful Mumford & Sons concert that incorporated the Monterey County Fair rides put on by Goldenvoice last year, the promoters decided to make it one of the many appealing factors for this festival. 

With about 20 carnival rides and a couple dozen carnival games, fans will be enthused with more than just the music. The carnival is expected to be a recurring factor for First City Festival in the years to come.

The Monterey County Fairgrounds has been home to some world renowned music festivals, including the legendary 1967 Monterey Pop Festival as well as the annual Monterey Jazz Festival, and First City Festival has potential to join the ranks.         



General Admission two-day passes are available for $149.50, VIP for $279.50, or single day tickets for $85.  Tickets can be purchased here  or at Streetlight Records at 939 Pacific Avenue in Downtown Santa Cruz (single day only).

Unlimited carnival ride passes can also be purchased in advanced for $15 per day or $22 for both days.


Once the rides are ridden and the music has been played, fans that are 21+ can head over to the official after-parties.

Saturday, Aug. 24 will feature a DJ Set by Passion Pit at the Blue Fin in the historic Cannery Row. Doors are at 11p.m. and cost is $27 (No Fees).

Sunday, Aug. 25 will feature The Hold Steady with Eli “Paperboy” Reed at Planet Gemini, across the street from the fairgrounds. Doors are at 10 p.m. and cost is $37 (No Fees).

Check out the schedule below:


Redwood Stage

2:40-3:30  Blitzen Trapper

4-4:40  the Hold Steady

5:10-5:55  Okkervil River

6:25-7:15  Beach House

7:45-8:45 MGMT

9:15-10:45 Passion Pit


Cypress Stage

1:15-1:50  Eli Paperboy Reed

2:20-3:00  Delta Rae

3:30-4:10  the Black Angels

4:40-5:25 Civil Twilight

5:55-6:40 Father John Misty

7:10-8  Delta Spirit

8:30-9:30 Washed Out


Manzanita Stage

1:45-2:20  Jeffertitti’s Nile

2:50-3:25 Guy Blakeslee (Entrance)

3:55-4:35  Guards         

5:05-5:50  Quadron

6:30-7:20  Tennis



Redwood Stage

2:40-3:30 the Antlers

4-4:40   Dr. Dog

5:10-5:55  Devendra Banhart

6:25-7:15  Toro y Moi

7:45-8:45  Neko Case

9:15-10:45  Modest Mouse


Cypress Stage

1:15-1:50  Bleached

2:20-3  the Dodos

3:30-4:10  Capital Cities

4:40-5:25  Electric Guest

5:55-6:40  Lucero

7:10-8   Deerhunter

8:30-9:30  Purity Ring


Manzanita Stage

1:45-2:20  Light Fantastic

2:50-3:25  Seventeen Evergreen

3:55-4:35  Akron/Family

5:05-5:50 Generationals

6:30-7:20  Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks



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