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The Come Up Presents “South By South Bay”

In Music
HOUSE PARTY: From left, Riley McShane, Isaiah Wilson and Leopoldo “Jon Jon” Macaya of The Come Up.

HOUSE PARTY: From left, Riley McShane, Isaiah Wilson and Leopoldo “Jon Jon” Macaya of The Come Up.

Caffe Frascati’s Tuesday open mic nights and Cafe Stritch’s Wax Wednesdays draw crowds of young artists, musicians and poets who convene to jam, freestyle and share ideas. The vibrant community of local creatives is all there. What’s lacking, however, is a larger network of performance spaces, accessible and all-ages, to sustain this burgeoning culture beyond those two venues. But a local grassroots music production collective is aiming to change that.

Since their debut in late 2017, San José Come Up, or simply The Come Up, has grown into a promising force on the local arts scene. The organization provides performance spaces for South Bay artists by throwing house shows, and by collaborating with SoFA district venues like Uproar Brewing Company and Cafe Stritch to elevate all-ages accessibility for the DIY music community.

“The main point of The Come Up is to provide a platform for upcoming artists and to build a community for young creatives looking for something to do,” says musician and writer Isaiah Wilson, who, alongside Riley McShane and Leopoldo “Jon Jon” Macaya, founded The Come Up in order to stimulate San Jose’s creative culture.

“Jon Jon’s the eyes, Isaiah’s the ears, and I’m the mouth of The Come Up,” McShane quips about the trio’s individual talents. McShane and Wilson, who curate and book talent, are both artists. Macaya, a professional photographer, is their publicity and social media guru.

“I think we all just have pretty good taste,” Macaya adds.

Indeed. The group’s success in facilitating the DIY music scene stems from their gravitas as interdisciplinary artists with insider knowledge of the scene. A perfect example is their upcoming music and film festival, South by South Bay. SXSB will showcase San Jose musicians like Swells and the Lünatics at The Ritz, and short films from local filmmakers at MACLA the following day.

“It’s a logical next step for us and what we do,” Wilson says about The Come Up’s move toward curating films and video art. “We’ve done music for a while now, and film has always been in the back of our minds.”

The collective sees SXSB as an opportunity to introduce their growing community to new spaces in the SoFA District. Hopefully, their collaboration with culturally significant community centers like MACLA will provide an established platform to bring creatives together and address the “gap of San Jose artists not knowing each other,” as Macaya puts it.

The Come Up was born out of a casual meeting between the three founders one night outside Cafe Stritch. The conversation soon evolved into a brainstorming session. They would host a showcase of local bands. The crew then successfully pitched their idea at Pitch Please!?, a Shark Tank-style competition organized by San Jose-based arts non-profit Local Color. The contest’s judges chose The Come Up’s pitch from a pool of about 10 contestants, and Local Color awarded the trio $1,000 to execute their vision. They used the prize to put on their first show at Uproar Brewery Company in February 2018.

“After that, it was really just a matter of people taking a chance on us,” McShane recalls. Following a series of events at SoFA Market, The Come Up hosted a pair of well-attended house shows. The turnout at these two events added to The Come Up’s clout and served as a testament to the collective’s knack for community engagement.

Now, The Come Up puts on monthly showcases at Cafe Stritch’s Wax Wednesdays and at The Ritz. They’ve also collaborated with pop-up shop facilitators SJMADE for an exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art. Their creative direction speaks of long-lasting sustainability, but the founders see things from a larger perspective.

“The end goal is not to be the only ones putting on shows for years to come,” Wilson says, reflecting on the long-term prospects of The Come Up. “We want to inspire other artists to book their own shows with a do it yourself attitude and form their own collectives—to provide their own come up. The important thing for us is how we execute the torch-carrying—how do we pass on the torch to the next generation of creatives?”

South by South Bay
Sat & Sun, $5+
The Ritz & MACLA

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