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On Friday night (7.13), Garthapalooza will take over Music Hall of Williamsburg for one night only thanks to the vision of BBQ Films! In case you’re not familiar with the collective, they’re known for bringing classic movies alive via immersive screenings, and this time the target is Wayne’s World. We’re talking live sets from local female-fronted bands, drink specials, photo-ops in Wayne’s basement…THE WE’RE NOT WORTHY WORKS!

The film is now celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary (!!!), and while the crew wanted to honor everything we love about it, they also wanted to make sure to do that through the lens of the here and now.

BBQ Films Co-Founder Gabriel Rhoads explains, “We’re getting good at bringing movies alive. I’d say the thing that really matters most to us is how we celebrate these movies, this fandom, in a context that really reflects the 2018 reality. They’re things of their time, but they’re also things that inspire love now. And so one of the things we were talking about was how we have a very diverse crew, a very female-centric crew, and this is a very dude movie. So we wondered how we could take this movie and use it to celebrate the entirety of the music scene that we’ve grown up loving.”

And that’s how the idea of Garthapalooza was born.

“It sounds strange, because we’re celebrating stories that we already know and have a fandom around, but when we tell these stories and create these immersive screens, we want to create a transportive experience that is kind of our own. Not to get too cerebral, but the way that I think about this is that as humans, we tell stories to each other all the time. It’s how we communicate. And so how are we as a group of creatives retelling the story of this movie in a way that it’s alive? The idea that instead of Jim Morrison coming to Wayne, Janis Joplin comes to Garth and says, ‘You really need to throw a Garthapalooza that puts female-fronted bands on stage and really celebrates the women of rock and roll.’ After that, we realized it made sense to do it at Music Hall of Williamsburg – we’re not doing it in a basement, we’re doing a festival that celebrates the music that’s behind this story that we all love.”

In addition to Lyons, Early Riser and Young Thieves, who’ll be performing as Crucial Taunt, the inimitable Calico Cooper (frontwoman of Beasto Blanco, and Alice Cooper’s daughter) will be a guest of honor.

“It was wonderful to be able to connect with Calico Cooper and invite her out, to be able to celebrate her music and the music that her father stood for. If you think about her career and what she stands for in the music community, and the legacy of her father and the way she celebrates that, it was perfect. The really neat thing about having such a broad-based film crew is that we have a set of directors that come up with the ideation, and manage the production, but we have this larger film crew that helps us come up with ways to do this for the love. Having that group allows us to really have our finger on the pulse of a bunch of different diverse communities. There’s a joy in creation and there’s a joy in connection to doing these kinds of things, as well as a joy in celebrating a story that we love.”

BBQ Films has been around for as long as I’ve lived in NYC, and has always stood out as a hugely imaginative collective whose events are consistently unmissable. And all of it started from humble beginnings.

“My wife and I started it on our rooftop in 2007, and it wasn’t immersive at that point. It was actually just a screening with a BBQ and beers and burgers and Blues Brothers on a rooftop in summer. It was just a fun way to watch a movie with friends, and it really was the community that came around it and made it into this thing that it is today. People would swing by the roof and say, ‘You know, we should do this somewhere else. We should take this off the roof and do something different with it.’ And that’s actually how the first one happened, was an event that was called Below New York, Above New York, and we actually held it in the mezzanine level above a bar. It was a short documentary film about subway musicians, and we invited the musicians from the film to sit in the audience, and in the last scene these guys are singing on screen, and they got up and harmonized with themselves on screen. Then they got up and did a performance. And people just went bonkers! The idea of the screen coming alive is something that folks dream about. It really creates this very special moment. So as soon as that happened, there was no turning back. It’s just been getting bigger and bigger since then.”

I tried to strong-arm some intel about what we can expect post-Garthapalooza in the fall (it’s gonna be spooky, that’s all I can say for now), but for the time being, I am AMPED to be able to celebrate Wayne’s World at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night. Party on indeed!

Purchase tickets to Garthapalooza here.

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