FWB Fest in Idyllwild was crypto’s Woodstock


The crypto world has had a tough summer season. Costs of bitcoin and etherium have plunged in latest months. NFT mania has cooled after the market turned flooded with low-quality tasks and scams. And regulators have begun cracking down on a slew of crypto firms which have allegedly engaged in doubtful habits and potential fraud.

Regardless of this dim outlook, over 500 folks lately took over the campus of Idyllwild Arts Academy, a personal arts boarding college in Idyllwild, Calif., for a weekend pageant that native media deemed to be the “crypto Woodstock.”

The occasion was known as FWB Fest, and the artists, writers, musicians, software program engineers, start-up founders and creatives who gathered had been all united by their membership in Associates With Advantages, a crypto-based on-line social membership that you need to buy a token to affix.

At FWB Fest, crypto’s downturn was welcomed. “I don’t think this festival would have worked six months ago,” stated Alex Zhang, 26, one in every of Associates With Advantages’s leaders and an occasion organizer.

The folks at FWB Fest weren’t the standard crypto convention attendees who jet between Miami and San Francisco. Many had been working artists or artistic professionals. They had been there as a result of they imagine that the blockchain, crypto’s underlying know-how, can be utilized to construct a greater world by group and decentralization.

“The thing that’s happening on a bigger level,” Yancey Strickler, the previous co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter informed a room of fellow attendees throughout a session titled “Beyond Crypto,” “is that we’ve had many decades of extreme and increasing individualism as the primary value, where each of us are expected to stand on our own … but now we’re recognizing the hollowness of that, and the loneliness of that and the grind.”

“I think we’re all getting our sea legs after decades of neoliberal market brain individualism,” stated Austin Robey, a Associates With Advantages member and co-founder, together with Strickler, of Metalabel, a platform that provides instruments for on-line collectives.

In Hollywood, a crypto platform that isn’t only a technique to lose your financial savings

Whereas the crypto world’s public picture has been largely outlined by a model of hyper-capitalist libertarian individualism, attendees at FWB sought to leverage the crash to usher in a distinct, extra inclusive techno utopia centered on group and creativity.

“Crypto is obviously divisive, and there’s a lot of language and tools that we are comfortable using that don’t translate to the mainstream,” an attendee stated. “But how we’re going to have a greater positive impact on more people’s material lives is by building tools on public ledgers that aren’t hyper-financialized.”

A $100 million group chat

In 2020, entrepreneur and artist Trevor McFedries started exploring the right way to carry a extra mainstream viewers to crypto. He’d lengthy been on the forefront of artwork and know-how, having constructed an organization that created the primary digital influencer, however after the pandemic hit he started delving into the world of Web3, the broad and considerably fluid time period that serves as shorthand for a brand new kind of web that’s constructed on decentralized blockchains. Whereas Net 2.0, the present iteration of the net, is outlined by a handful of massive tech firms that personal and management consumer content material and information, advocates of Web3 see its decentralized programs as resulting in extra egalitarian possession.

In a single weekend, McFedries created a specialised cryptocurrency token and despatched it round to his buddies within the music, artwork, design, and tech worlds in addition to to some Twitter followers.

The “FWB” token granted them entry to a Discord group known as Associates With Advantages. The group features as a DAO, or “decentralized autonomous organization,” which is principally a blockchain-based co-op the place every token holder owns a stake within the group.

Within the two years since, Associates With Advantages has taken off. Buoyed by the crypto increase, the group chat grew right into a full-fledged on-line social membership, producing media consideration and attracting 1000’s of high-profile members together with celebrities and music artists like Erykah Badu and Azealia Banks.

Because the group scaled, the value to buy a token to achieve membership additionally grew, at one level reaching $175 for a single token. Final yr, Associates With Advantages raised $10 million from buyers together with the enterprise capital agency Andreessen Horowitz in a funding spherical that valued it at $100 million.

Crypto’s plummet exams the sturdiness of a hype-driven business

The group used the funding, partly, to develop offline. It hosted occasions and events in Los Angeles, Miami and New York, rising its cultural footprint. At one level the group mentioned a futuristic dream of sooner or later taking up a defunct liberal arts faculty and internet hosting a pageant. When it was found {that a} good friend of a good friend labored in admissions on the arts academy, after some negotiation with the college and native city officers, FWB organizers landed the venue, and FWB Fest was born.

Crypto utopia within the woods

All through the weekend, Idyllwild Arts Academy was reworked right into a utopian summer season camp the place dialogue teams and talks throughout the day on matters like “Social justice and web3” and “Where do NFTs go from here?” gave technique to night performances by musicians together with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova from the anarchist feminist group Pussy Riot, experimental digital music producer Oneohtrix Level By no means, and rapper JPEGMAFIA. James Blake performed a piano set.

There was a pure wine backyard, ambient sound baths the place attendees might sip mushroom tea, late-night stargazing and a pool celebration. Andrea Hernandez, founding father of the publication Snaxshot, who has develop into an oracle within the meals and beverage world for her capacity to identify up-and-coming merchandise earlier than they make it to grocery retailer cabinets, curated a customized snack sales space, and NFT market OpenSea collaborated on a gallery of digital artwork.

All through the weekend, administrators Adam Faze and Ari Cagan chased down attendees for interviews for an upcoming actuality present backed by Mad Realities, a web3-oriented manufacturing firm, primarily based on the pageant.

Outdoors of the talks, nevertheless, the subject of crypto appeared secondary, if it was talked about in any respect.

Greg Bresnitz, the cities and occasions programming lead for FWB, stated that was intentional. FWB, he stated, was actually about “using Web3 as a coordination mechanism for culture.” “For the last two years [crypto] has been at the forefront,” he added, “and now with the crash it folds into the background.”

Different attendees agreed. “There are a lot of people here who are relative novices to web3, but are really into culture and that’s their entry point into FWB,” stated Cherie Hu, founder and writer of Water & Music, an unbiased publication and analysis DAO targeted on music and know-how. “I haven’t even heard many buzzwords or people talking about crypto in the corner,” stated Patrick McDermott, an artist in Los Angeles.

Due to the serendipitous nature of its founding, Associates With Advantages by no means began with a mission assertion or marketing strategy. “It started as a scene” stated Zhang. “Most people who are part of a scene can’t recite the mission statement of a scene.” Throughout one session, on the second day of the pageant, members brainstormed on the right way to develop FWB into new endeavors, whether or not it was product launches or one other pageant.

All the pieces about FWB Fest was organized along with FWB Discord members. “The community is full of people who work in varied industries, so when we put on events we try to hire from within the community,” stated McFedries.

Zhang stated he thinks of Associates With Advantages as a metropolis. “New York City, for instance, throws festivals,” he stated. “There are also restaurants, museums, parks, etc. FWB feels less like a company and at this stage, and more like a small town that’s got a vibe.”

Regardless of the latest contraction within the crypto market, everybody at FWB Fest remained steadfast of their dedication to utilizing the blockchain, crypto’s underlying know-how, and stated they hope that FWB’s success will usher in a brand new period of web3, constructed round group and inclusivity.

“We’re trying to build while we can before big awful corporations come and ruin it for everybody,” stated Joshua Eustis, a music artist often known as Telefon Tel Aviv. “Capitalism is superimposed on our way of life and our financial system and the fact that web3 is currently wildly inadequate to correct for that, is not enough of a reason for us to abdicate our responsibility to shape it in its early condition.”

“If we don’t,” he stated, “some a–hole will later and we’ll have to use it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.