Most music festivals aim to wow potential attendees with top-bill talent, but Scapescape, now in its third year, is not most festivals.
"It sounds weird to say, but we want quantity over quality. We're looking for consistency throughout the day," said co-organizer Jimmy MacMillan.
In other words, the folks behind Scapescape hope to expose listeners to as many different acts — 115 in all, and only 10 that aren't locally based — as possible between this coming Friday and Sunday at various Station North locations, including the Crown, the Windup Space, the Metro Gallery and lots on North Charles Street and West North Avenue.
Scapescape founder Dave Underhill created the festival in 2011 after his friend, Reuben Kroiz, asked him to book a farewell concert for Hampden's the G-Spot, which Kroiz managed until it closed that fall. Underhill had wanted to create a festival that "brought disparate elements in Baltimore music together," and Kroiz's offer was the right opportunity at the time.
MacMillan says Scapescape's main goal remains the same: To bring together genres and communities that normally wouldn't interact. Judging from the lineup, Scapescape has succeeded once again, booking acts whose genres include multiple veins of rock (indie, garage, noise, experimental), underground rap, sitar-driven pop, Baltimore Club and more.
"It just gives everybody a chance to hang out," MacMillan said. "You get 100 bands together, and you figure, they spend a weekend together and they're going to exchange some ideas, like, 'You have a P.A.? We have a lighting system! Let's play.' I've seen it happen."
Scapescape's inclusive, community-building attitude fits nicely in the Station North arts district, and organizers say the nonprofit organization Station North Arts and Entertainment Inc. — and its executive director, Ben Stone, in particular — has embraced the festival completely.
"They've given us free rein of the area," MacMillan said. "They allow us the freedom to make noise and have the foot traffic."
While Scapescape sells local art and features theater acts at the Station North Chicken Box and Liam Flynn's Ale House, it is primarily about music.
It certainly isn't about money, he says, pointing out that organizers have never made a profit from Scapescape. MacMillan says Underhill spends two months after the festival tracking down bands with envelopes that have their cut from merchandise, tickets and alcohol sales inside.
"We do this because we enjoy the music community and we like to contribute to it in a way that isn't writing a check," said MacMillan.
Since this is Scapescape '13, here are 13 acts (all from Baltimore, unless otherwise noted) not to miss over Labor Day weekend.
• FRIDAY NIGHT
11:30 p.m.-midnight at the Crown, 1910 N. Charles St.
The poet/rapper's debut project, "Invictos," was named by Spin magazine — for good reason — as one of "rap's most slept-on releases of 2013's first quarter." Ali, who works closely with another Scapescape act in Schwarz, has won over many audiences with performances remarkable for his unhinged urgency. "Every time [I see him], my jaw is on the floor," said MacMillan.
10:45 p.m.-11:30 p.m. at the Metro Gallery, 1700 N. Charles St.
The sample-collagist born Matthew Papich released his well-received second album, "Moody Coup," earlier this year. He's received praise from tastemakers such as Pitchfork and the Fader, and his expressive, rhythmic compositions make it easy to hear why.