Second Annual Adult Swim Festival Takes Over Banc Of California Stadium With Vince Staples, Jamie XX, 2 Chainz, Tierra Whack

Adult Swim
Courtesy Adult Swim
– Adult Swim
Last year’s fest took place in Downtown Los Angeles.

Adult Swim has long had a reputation for left-of-center TV programming like “Rick And Morty,” “Robot Chicken” and “Squidbillies,” but music has been just as important in attracting the network’s cult following. Last year’s initial iteration of Adult Swim Festival took place in a parking lot at the ROW DTLA in downtown Los Angeles, but this year’s edition, scheduled for Nov. 15-16, is moving to the 20,000-capacity Banc of California Stadium, the newly opened Exposition Park home of Major League Soccer franchise Los Angeles FC that’s adjacent to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Thanks to Jason DeMarco, SVP Creative Director for On-Air, music is a priority for Adult Swim, which introduced a Singles Program that has helped release new tracks from edgy, genre-bending bands from Flying Lotus to Death Grips to Diarrhea Planet. One of music’s foremost tastemakers, DeMarco is credited with playing a role in the formation of Run The Jewels. He also curated this year’s eclectic Adult Swim lineup, which includes virtual metal band Dethklok, originally featured on the channel’s animated series “Metalocalypse,” rappers Vince Staples and Tierra Whack, electronic music auteur Jamie xx, animated Flying Lotus alter ego Captain Murphy, hip-hop duo Freddie Gibbs and Madlib and The Eric Andre Show Live, a version of the wacky network staple described as “GWAR meets Gallagher.” And while scheduled acts Lil Nas X and Young Thug pulled out “for personal reasons,” 2 Chainz and Rapsody were late additions to the lineup.

“Music has always been a large part of Adult Swim,” Ashley Wagner, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim Senior Director, Marketing, told Pollstar. “As a kid, I used to go to concerts, then come home and watch the channel at two in the morning. So many musicians are fans of Adult Swim, and it’s carried over to the culture.”

Adult Swim Festival is much more than the music, though, with screenings of the fourth season of “Rick and Morty,” which premiered on Nov. 10; the Robot Chicken Intergalactic Power Summit; the Squidbillies 10 Man Bunkhouse Stampede; and a discussion with animator Genndy Tartakovsky, who created Cartoon Network and Adult Swim shows “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Samurai Jack,” “Star Wars: Clone Wars” and “Primal.” Other onsite activations include The Rickflector and Morty Slide, the Cat Joust, the Mechanical Hot Dog Ride and a newly revamped Meatwad Dome for 360-degree showings of Adult Swim premieres and old favorites. The Crunchyroll Anime Rave is the official afterparty, taking place Friday night, with DJ/producer Ducky manning the turntables.

“Every single artist on this bill is there because we want them here, we’re fans, friends and work with them on various projects,” Wagner explained. “It’s very collaborative, in the spirit of Adult Swim. It’s a mindset.”

Tickets start at $49, but this year the fest is offering deluxe packages, including a Prestige Plus ticket that includes access to an onsite swimming pool. 

Wagner is thrilled to be at Banc of California Stadium this year, which expects 20,000 attendees for the two nights. “We were looking for size,” she said. “We wanted a space we could grow into and have room to spread out. We need the defined spaces for everything we’re offering, not just music, but comedy performances, screenings. The stadium proves the best infrastructure to do just that.”

Adult Swim’s experience putting on events at San Diego Comic-Con led to the creation of the festival, an attempt to define and serve a community. 

“Our fans are our lifeblood,” Wagner said.  “We wanted to create opportunities for them to engage with us directly, but more importantly, with one another, to create a wonderful, communal moment they can share together.  It’s everything you love about Adult Swim in one place.”

With the festival circuit increasingly crowded and competitive, Wagner is convinced Adult Swim Festival offers something unique.

“For us, it’s about being true to ourselves and our fans,” she said. “We feel we’re carving a space for ourselves that sets us apart.”