Saturday night in Berkeley, CA saw local band SWMRS present their Uncool Fest 5 at the UC Theatre, featuring: Together Pangea, Ultra Q, B.A.G, Kuromi, and DYGL and it was anything but uncool. This year’s Uncool Fest theme was Pixar, which fans remember last year’s theme was the wizardry world of Harry Potter. It was exciting to see Pixar theme costumes from the fans to even the bandmates on stage. While most were Toy Story characters ( Woody, Buzz, Rex, Jessie, etc.) it was fresh to see fans dressed up from The Incredibles, Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, Up, Inside Out, and more. The three-level UC Theatre was decked out with beautiful Jellyfish lamps as lighting while house music was, of course, Pixar related songs.
The sold-out Uncool Fest 5 brought out different genres for the night. After an hour of doors being opened at 5:30pm, the first act DYGL played roughly thirty minutes of chill indie sounds followed by female-fronted punk group Kuromi at 7:10pm. After their angsty set, duo female rappers B.A.G came on stage and immediately had the crowd waving their arms. While each of them were rapping, the two gave a shout out to the fans and the UC Theatre staff for all their overlooked hard work. After plugging their new album on the merch table, B.A.G danced off stage at 8:20pm and Cole Becker of SWMRS with his cub/boy scout friend introduced the next band Ultra Q fronted by Jakob Armstrong (Green Day/Billie Joe Armstrong’s youngest son). Each member of Ultra Q dressed up as Toy Story with Armstrong as Buzz Lightyear. Ultra Q has a very reminiscent 90s grunge style that evoked the audience to jump, crowd surf, and throw glow sticks also a shoe in the air. Ultra Q definitely turned the volume with their energy even bassist Kevin Judd and drummer Chris Malaspina went crazy on their instruments. Just before they wrapped it up, Armstrong announced that Ultra Q will be performing at 924 Gilman on November 23rd.
Up next L.A garage rock group Together Pangea emerged on stage with the greatest music introduction— Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”, which the whole theatre sang along to. When the song faded for Together Pangea, the crowd loudly cheered when they saw the guys all wearing Woody attire. Together Pangea played until 9:50pm and guitarist Roland Cosio had dancing feet as he jammed out. During their second to last song, members of Kuromi came to join Together Pangea and jumped off stage to crowd surf. Singer William Keegan confessed to the crowd before they walked off, “We’ve known SWMRS for seven years, but this is the first time playing with them.” Then at last by 10:10pm, a short video with bassist Seb Mueller of SWMRS appeared on-screen mocking a flight attendant with the safety of the show and warned that there will be moshing/crowd surfing. A countdown began and SWMRS finally took the stage singing “Life is A Highway” by Rascal Flatts with Ultra Q’s Jakob Armstrong who played guitar the whole entire set. SWMRS brought Dragon Ball Z beach balls that fans were tossing back and forth. Everyone was non-stop moving whether it was left to right or a clockwise pit, they came to get down or lose their minds at Uncool Fest 5. Cole stated, “Berkeley is the greatest community in the world—it’s where hippies and punks got along. ” He even added, “Our music is a love letter to the East Bay. Welcome to our home!” Then Cole went on to headbang while he sang “Berkeley’s On Fire” and drummer Joey Armstrong (older brother of Jakob) controlled the rhythm with his beats. The tempo dropped when brother Max Becker sang “Lose It“. The two Becker brothers rotated singing songs from their new and previous albums including tracks from when they were called Emily’s Army. The crowd went wild when they covered “Mama Mia”. The fans and bands really made Uncool Fest 5 very lively. SWMRS remarked, “We’re living the dream.” We wish to see SWMRS fulfilling their dreams next year especially for Max Becker, crew member Josh Berl, and photographer Natalie Somekh who are recently recovering from their van accident in Denver shortly after their Berkeley show.