People stopped on their path up and down Telegraph Avenue during First Friday two weeks ago. They stopped to listen to the stage set up by Mission Creek Oakland (MCO) and Oaktown Indie Mayhem. The light was still shining as Yassou Benedict played their set which seamlessly shifted between heavy waves of guitar and drums and pop rhythms with dreamy, transfixing vocals.

As Emily Moldy (soon to go by Emily Acton, her given name) took the stage, the sun was disappearing. By the time up-and-coming indie-pop band French Cassettes bounced through their songs, the street lights were on.

The outdoor stage was a good way to start the Festival, taking advantage of the energy of Oakland’s monthly street party and extending the reach of the MCO festival to those who may not have been aware of the week-long music lineup.

The musicians welcomed the audience to come talk to them after coming offstage, giving a hint at one of MCO’s biggest assets: intimacy.

There was so much music to see at MCO that it would be hard for anyone to take advantage of all of it. On Saturday alone, there were eight hours of music on 25th street, followed by another three hours at Awaken Café.

However, whether one happened across a show at First Friday, or came to one of the nightly midweek shows at The Stork Club or The Legionnaire, among other venues, it was likely that they enjoyed a piece of the well-curated series of sets in a small setting spanning multiple genres.

On Sunday, September 7, for example, the patio of the Pacific Coast Brewing Company was packed with families and couples listening to the country warbling of Laura Benitez and the Heartache, and on Saturday, September 13, a crowd danced upstairs at The Night Light along with the jazz of Royal Jelly Jive.

The advantage of a festival like MCO is clear: it’s a way to become closer to some of the great musicians playing around Oakland and to take advantage of the knowledge of event producers, like Antonette Goroch and Sarah Sexton, who are involved in the music world here.

Oakland is in a sweet spot of growing its music community, but not being too big to enjoy these smaller events with fellow music lovers. There is no fear here of losing the special characteristics of being the unwatched underdog next to San Francisco’s better-established music scene. It’s clear that the more who join, the merrier, because as the crowds expand, so will the reach of musicians across the city.

Until next year, here are a few photos taken at MCO shows to revisit some of the events of 2014’s festival.

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