Keep It Curbside: Gen-Zs Doing Cool Sh*t

by Fran
June 11, 2021

Everyone can be Curbside. Not everyone can be Pigeon Gang. Pigeon Gang is C-team. What is C-team? C-team is HQ.

Confused? So was I.

Gia and I hopped onto a Zoom call at 7:00pm on a Sunday night. Not knowing what to expect, I was on the verge of shitting my pants - I mean, Curbside is a legendary group of people on the LMU campus. Before campus closed down, I’d hear murmurs of Look, it’s Curbside! as they walked past. Whether they were opening for T-Pain, setting up their art gallery, or simply in line at Starbucks, the small-shirt-big-pants-wearing wannabe art students and I looked on in awe.

The group was established in 2017, and they’ve never stuck to just one thing. The lovechild of a one-off nickname (“that’s what they call me on the curbside”) and a shared love for pigeons, Curbsidal lore takes us from a single T-shirt design to many amazing artistic endeavors: an album cover, clothes, multiple live performances, a REAL album, an art gallery, the DNC mural at the 2019 Debate, and the best events for young creatives in Westchester. The boys of Curbside are endlessly enigmatic, as are their next steps as a collective, especially when large live events are ethically impossible. Gia and I were on a mission to get to the root of it all.

Carter Boyle, the first member to hop on the Zoom, was soft-spoken and apologized in advance for the antics of his group to come. A lover of chaos myself, I was excited to see what sorts of antics would unfold.

One by one, the members of Curbside trickled in - first, Jacob Johansson and Bobby Sutton, sitting on a couch within the Curbside HQ - an amazing, eclectically decorated house in LA. Then came Luke Gresback, perched in front of his desk in his Idaho bedroom. Jack Alving, cozy and swinging his feet from the comfort of his own bed in Chicago, joined the call after many texts in the official Curbside group chat.

For the first fifteen minutes of the conversation, it was like Gia and I weren’t even there - not in a bad way, though. The guys were all cracking jokes, telling stories, and catching up. I loved to see their untouched dynamic: just some best friends telling jokes. They were funny. I was intimidated.

“Why the hell are you scared of us?” Luke asked jokingly.

“You guys are just… so cool,” I gushed. “You were like, the Brockhampton of LMU when I was there.” I remembered their opening set for T-Pain, and more importantly, the amazing art gallery they opened my senior year.

Suddenly the group exploded, with synchrony paralleled only by the likes of *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys: “WE ARE NOT A BAND.” Cue wide eyes from Gia and me, who thought this interview might have been just about their music - considering they had just released a single.

Bobby saw the shocked looks on our faces and explained: “None of us can really rap or sing. None of us are proper musicians. If I were to boil it down, we’re scientists… the Curbside Research Institute.”

Gia typed in the private chat. “I thought you said they were a band.”

Luke saw us staring at the computer screen, mouths agape. “Curbside is a creative collective that explores different creative mediums that people can relate to. That’s part of the research. Our hypothesis is always a form of whether or not people will actually relate to it.”

“We’ve played music a couple of times, like at Fallapalooza (an annual LMU concert) - so I get why most people see us as a band,” Jacob said. “In reality, before performing at Falla, we only created 2 songs. The rest of the songs we performed were made in 2 weeks - some even in just one night! We put out a mixtape afterwards, which we created in a month.”

Jack explained more about their ethos. “We focus a lot on quality products, like Let’s make stuff that we like and that other people are gonna like too. We had been planning an art gallery at LMU for a long time, and our Fallapalooza performance was a way to get people to come to the gallery.” 

Besides the gallery, the Curbside team has had an amazing track record of events and appearances - including No Charge, their first-ever official Curbside event (and a fond memory for all of the members). The six-hour show/concert/party consisted of 8 live performances and 13 visual artists around the perimeter selling and showing off their work.

“No Charge was the first thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Carter nostalgically said. “I vividly remember Jack Green closing his set with ‘Runaway’ by Kanye. I took a moment to step back and realized that this is what I dreamed of when I was 13.”

“It was so successful, tons of people were coming and going for 6 hours. It was like a party where you could look at art and people can dance and have fun,” Luke said. “A big part of Curbside is we all work together, but that collaboration also allows us to individually work on the perimeter. We premiered the first music video I produced at No Charge, which was a really cool moment.”

“No Charge was when we actually sat down and said ‘Ok, this is more than us, bigger than us.’” The group nodded in unison. “It wasn’t about us… I mean, we hosted the event, but at the end of the day it was about the community. I was screen printing t-shirts in the back for the whole 6 hours of the event,” Bobby chuckled.

Despite COVID-19 dampening the group’s plans for another large gathering - or better yet, a tuxedo formal at the HQ, creating art for the community still remains at the forefront of Curbside’s endeavors. “We don’t want to create art for the Internet, we wanted to create it for our immediate community. That’s what it’s about. We think the stuff we make lasts longer in person as opposed to just a post on instagram, which gets buried in the feed. We want our cool shit to bring people together and be accessible.”

Curbside’s love for tangible experiences can be traced back to their free-handed childlike curiosity and creativity. “You know when you look at a playground and you’re like, ‘Damn, I wanna play there,’ but there’s like 20 kids and it would be weird to play there?” Jack’s eyes lit up while he spoke - you could tell that his love for play was REAL, and not just some fabricated nostalgia BS purported by disposable camera fanatics. “It would be cool to have a structure we can just play in. When I think of Curbside, I think of playful, fun, childhood nostalgia - but remade for now. We have a playmat in our house, a crap ton of action figures, things you play with as a kid, and way more.”

The group’s shared love for boundless creativity could only be eclipsed by one thing - their love for each other. When we asked about their biggest piece of advice for Gen-Z creatives, they all mentioned the importance of having a team. “A lot of it has to do with sacrificing your selfishness, in a way. It’s not just ‘I’m creating this because it’s me and my team, it’s creating with and for my TEAM.’ Whether that’s the team that you go to, or connecting with your community, they’ll push you to start so you’re not alone.”

As I type this interview, I’m still floored by how candid, funny, and creatively driven each of these individuals are. I catch myself smiling as I read the notes from our conversation and pull up the Zoom photo that they all posed with various props for. This group of guys that are way too cool for me were all way too humble about the amazing homegrown success that they’ve been able to generate over the past couple of years.

Will I ever be Pigeon Gang - nay, will I ever be C-Team? No matter how wide my pants are, nor how many different colors I dye my hair, I don’t think I’ll ever be as cool or enigmatic as these guys. And honestly, I’m okay with that.

Every creative needs artists to look up to, and a couple of mine include all of Curbside.