About the Bicycle Music Festival
A grassroots, 501(c)3 project based in Oakland, CA.
The mission of the Bicycle Music Festival is to promote sustainable culture in general and bicycle culture in particular, by physically engaging and immersing our community in the magic of bike culture, and cultivating and nurturing a network of local eco-minded musicians, through our staging of free, community participatory, bicycle-based music events.
Bicycle Music Festival is the largest 100% bicycle-powered music festival in the world.
Founded in 2007, the free, all-day (and into the night) event has historically taken place annually in San Francisco, California on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice. After a sabbatical break in 2014, the event returns to The Bay on Sunday, September 20th, 2015 with its 8th annual event: “Bicycle Music Festival VIII + Climate Rally,” in Oakland, a groundbreaking collaboration between BMF and local eco-justice organizations 350BayArea, and Fertile Ground Environmental Institute, as well as open streets organization: Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, whose open streets event ”Love Our Lake Day” hosts this year’s Day Venue (Lake Merritt Amphitheater). The combination of BMF, the Climate Rally, and Love Our Lake Day means that audiences of up to 3000 people will enjoy pedal-powered music, and inspirational messages of climate & social justice at the Amphitheater.
Bicycle Music Festival VIII + Climate Rally will feature:
- a culturally diverse lineup of the Bay Area’s best bands
- a roster of inspirational climate & social justice speakers from the Bay Area
- Rock the Bike’s 30,000 watt, 30-bike pedal-powered PA system (all the electricity is generated by the audience!)
- 3 festival venues, including one in-motion venue through the streets of Oakland
- outrageous Critical Mass-style bicycle party caravans between the Day and Night Venues
- bike-blended smoothies
- old fashioned pedal-churned ice cream
- zero use of cars or trucks to haul the audio gear
The event is packed up and deployed numerous times: staged sequentially at different public parks and also on a bicycle-drawn “LiveOnBike” stage. The iconic LiveOnBike parade features a live performer atop a bicycle-drawn stage (hauled by a strong-legged pilot), who entertains a rolling audience of hundreds through the city streets – connecting one BMF stop to another.
Lead by a core team of wacky inventors, bike activists, and Ecotopian bike-touring musicians, Bicycle Music Festival is produced on the day-of by an eclectic assortment of over 80 volunteers. You can join the team! It’s supported financially both by donations from the public (mostly gathered at the event by our team of sexy gold spandex-clad “Golden Geese”), and through partnerships with local community organizations and a handful of groovy companies.
Since its inception in 2007, BMF has doubled in size every year. As with other SF-birthed community celebrations such as PRIDE and Critical Mass, Bicycle Music Festival is an open-source concept, and autonomous community groups can be found producing Bicycle Music Festivals across the world. Some of the most successful BMF’s that we’ve heard about include: Chico BMF, Toronto BMF, and the Pleasant Revolution’s BMF’s. We encourage you to start one in your city!
Bicycle Music Festival has won numerous awards and been featured in local and international press. If you’d like to do a story on us, feel free to give us a holler!
The first BMF – 2007
The only festival in the world literally hauling its own weight, the BMF possesses 4 distinctive qualities:
1) The human-powered P/A system, which besides being the most fun and green way to amplify a live concert, also transforms every song into an audience participation song, and radically democratizes the concert-goer experience (the power to amplify the people onstage rests entirely in the will of the people offstage; democracy at its healthiest you might say!).
2) Bicycle-mobility of the entire festival: the entire audience/band/stage/crew completely packs-up everything they bring (stage and musical equipment too) onto bicycles, and travels as a large group to the next festival stop. There are no sag-wagons or equipment trucks hauling the amplifiers and other heavy gear – everything is hauled by bicycle.
3) Pilgrimage-style sequential venue schedule: Unlike other festivals where bands are scheduled to play overlapping slots on stages that are set-up just around the corner from one another (often resulting in overlapping sound), the Bicycle Music Festival unfolds like a delightful treasure hunt: in a linear and adventurous journey-form, with only one meaningful development in the plot unveiled at a time, and stages located a full bike-ride away from each other.
4) LiveOnBike mobile stage: Artists and bands perform while rolling down the city streets mounted on the backs of cargo bikes and bike trailers outfitted with microphones and amplifiers. The sound is wirelessly routed to “soulcycle” party bikes interspersed throughout the crowd, surrounding the crowd with sound.
The Bicycle Music Festival and its pedal-powered PA system are not only wonderful ways for the community to quite literally empower itself, but also a wonderful way to remind ourselves as we generate electricity with one another, shoulder to shoulder, where power is ultimately rooted.