Chris Pyrate Credit: Shaughn Cooper

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On Aug. 31, D.C.’s underground artist community will shine at the Pabst Blue Ribbon Sound Society-curated Flower Bomb Fest. Musicians and visual artists alike will come together in a free event to celebrate the wealth of eclectic local talent at Dupont Underground. Ahead of the festival, City Paper spoke with a few of the featured artists and musicians showcasing their work.

Artist: Chris PyrateMedium: Murals and graphic designChris Pyrate is a D.C.-born illustrator, streetwear designer, muralist, and vocalist––and the brain behind Flower Bomb Fest. Pyrate started drawing when he was a child. “There’s a lot of people that end up going to art school and do things to validate themselves to become an artist,” Pyrate says. “Through my understanding, I always was.”

While attending the Art Institute of Washington, he worked at the historic clothing store Commander Salamander in Georgetown and stumbled into designing clothes. When the store closed in 2010, he knew it would be difficult to replicate his inadvertent career in D.C., so he moved to Brooklyn and eventually ended up in Miami painting murals. He’s worked with artists like Lupe Fiasco and Wu-Tang Clan, and illustrated children’s books, graphic novels, and album art.

At Flower Bomb Fest, he will be doing skeletal work using flowers to stage the show in a live installation. He’s also curating an installation of work from various local artists. “One of the things I’m most excited about is really giving people an experience where they feel a part of something, not just listening to music,” he said.

Through a strong personal partnership with Pabst Blue Ribbon, Pyrate is able to fulfill his mission of elevating the D.C. arts community, offering him the opportunity to “come back home and make a difference.”

Artist: Malcolm XavierMedium: DJ

Malcolm Xavier went from being a University of Maryland student to a local music influencer after filling in for an engineer in a recording studio on campus one night. He then started his own college radio show and curated an annual concert series in College Park where he hosted the likes of J. Cole, Wale, and Big Sean

His college popularity led to a blossoming career as a DJ. He hosts a weekly party series that features DJs from across the country, works as the nightly DJ for 93.9 WKYS, performs in major clubs and venues in D.C., Los Angeles, and Boston, and works with brands like Nike, Broccoli City Fest, and Trillectro Music Festival. 

He attributes much of his success to his D.C. roots. “It’s a cheat code honestly,” he says. “I’ve been able to get support from people I’ve known as far back as elementary school, so it’s definitely made it easier for me to win I think.”

Xavier will take the stage at Flower Bomb Fest with his “ever-changing but not unstable” sound. “I just hope they leave out happier than when they walked in,” he says.

Artist: Trap BobMedium: Illustration and animation

Local visual artist, illustrator, and animator Trap Bob will present her bold, colorful art at Flower Bomb Fest. She’s one of the 2019 PBR can design contest winners. Soon, her outer space design will appear on 24-ounce cans all across the country.

The D.C. native’s work is more than a display of vibrancy. “I consider my work an ongoing conversation with my audience where the message can change depending on the viewer,” she says. “I aim to relate to everyone and evoke action. I want people to feel seen and understood. I want them to feel at home with my art, and I hope it puts a smile on their face.”

At the festival, Trap Bob is set to unveil a go-go backdrop she designed as an interactive photo-op for the audience. 

“The creativity and energy in D.C. is unmatched and pushes you to be the best you can be,” she says. “This area pushes you to be as creative as possible and break boundaries in any industry.”

19 Dupont Circle NW. Free with RSVP. flowerbombfest.com.

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