The Undergo Festival, an all-local, free music and arts event founded and curated by members of the band Lulu the Giant, is making a big return after its debut last year.
For this iteration, The Undergo is teaming up with Emergent Structures — another nonprofit organization devoted to improving communities in Savannah.
“They have a really cool view for the community,” Undergo Festival founder and Lulu The Giant frontwoman Rachael Shaner said. “They deconstruct houses that are already set for demolition and they do it board-by-board, so everything is kept out of the landfill. That material is reused in the local communities of Savannah. They have a lumber yard out there on this 40-acre marsh-front bluff and it’s basically untouched. It’s eventually going to be an art park for the community on the east side to where everybody can access the waterfront and be around art, and volunteer for a local nonprofit.”
Although Savannah hosts several incredible music festivals featuring top artists from around the world, The Undergo is unique in that it is devoted solely to highlighting Savannah musicians, artists and businesses.
“It’s all local and will forever be all local,” Shaner said. Of course, there is one surprising exception this year that will make putting on an all-day festival a little bit easier.
“Jack Daniels reached out to be a sponsor of this event,” Shaner explained. “I met with them and I was like, You guys understand this isn’t going to be like Coachella or Shaky Knees or anything like that. This is going to maintain a ground roots effort in the Savannah community. It’s going to stay organic. It’s going to stay consistent in this focus, so if you guys want to be a part of that kind of branding... It kind of threw me for a loop.”
Last year’s Undergo debut was an ambitious undertaking.
“Last year was awesome, but it was three days long and we had 25 bands,” Shaner said. “It was funny because bands were waiting at the gate to play that weren’t on the lineup.”
The Undergo has been condensed down to one day from the previous three day fest to keep the experience more focused and potent. The lineup for this year includes Alia, Smooth, Xuluprophet, Raynbird, In For A Penny, Danny Moon, Cunabear, Hotplate, Jacob Evans, Perpetual Care, Anders Thomsen Trio, and of course, Shaner’s band Lulu the Giant. There will also be special performances by the hopping, dancing, fire playing Stardust Pixies.
“We’re keeping it with the community that’s here and… it’s every genre, inclusive, and representative of all the sounds and sights of Savannah,” Shaner said.
The family friendly event will include corn hole, horseshoes and bubbles. Several artists, including Alexis Javier and Emile Fu, will be producing and selling work at an outdoor gallery. There is also a collaborative canvas and live art installations.
“All of the art is for sale,” Shaner said. “The live installations, even, at the end of the night you can purchase those. The only thing that won’t be for sale is the major sculptures and when you see them that will be evident.”
Vendors on site include Chazito’s food truck, Big Bon Pizza, and Moon River Brewing Co. which produced a special beer exclusively for the festival.
“All of the sales are donated, so 80 percent is going to Emergent Structures and then 20 percent will go directly back to the artists,” Shaner said. “Even Jack Daniels and the other vendors are not keeping their funds. It all goes back to the artists directly. So, there’s no overhead, no hands in anybody’s pockets. It’s very transparent. That’s keeping with the theme here. Nobody makes a dollar off of the artist’s back.”
The Undergo Festival plans to eventually become an official nonprofit. Collaborating with Emergent Structures has been a good learning experience to help the event grow and be able to continue promoting Savannah’s music and arts community.
“To come alongside another nonprofit who knows what they’re doing is really good for the arts community,” Shaner said. “The bands and the artists were so stoked to be coming back. It was a feeling of being a part of something bigger than just Savannah — even though it is just Savannah — they all got right back on board... Their support and excitement has been the fuel for Undergo, and that makes it worth it.”