Yearning for a safely distanced musical adventure? Check out the San Francisco Music Scavenger Hunt, September 4-6, the tuneful brainchild of online community radio station BFF.FM. (You can play at home, too.)
BFF, with its continuous stream of independent programming and support of the local scene, has been one of the essential things getting many of us through the endless pandemic, starting with its live programming from dozens of local music-lovers.
“The feedback we’ve gotten over the past 16 months has overwhelmingly been that we’ve helped people feel connected at this disconnected time,” founder and station manager Amanda Guest told me over Zoom. “We’ve heard from a lot of people who have lost their jobs or been furloughed over the pandemic, and they’ve told us our programming has helped give them a sense of community.”
The station, which recently took up temporary digs in the Ferry Building while its “Secret Alley” Mission space is being renovated, has done more than keep toes tapping with its very eclectic mix of indie sounds. “Early on in the pandemic, our first through was what can we do to help these bands that have lost everything,” Guest said. “Initially we let bands take over our social media to help raise funds and awareness about new releases. That shifted to mutual aid fund, which distributed money for emergency needs like paying rent and buying groceries.”
BFF launched a Twitch channel that broadcasts a monthly virtual version of it annual fundraising Besties Bash every second Wednesday. “It’s been great because accessibility has always been on our minds, and people haven’t always been able to make it to our live events. Now we have bands submit videos and live performances, and we can introduce them and their music to our audience at home,” Guest said. “We can all log on and watch with each other.”
Now BFF.FM is taking it to the streets over Labor Day weekend, with the San Francisco Music Scavenger Hunt. It’s bursting with over 200 trivia questions and challenges, including 90 citywide geotagged adventures that you can do on your own or as part of a team. You can also choose to participate for just a day, or do the whole 56-hour shebang.
After downloading and registering via the GooseChase app, participants “will travel to a record store, a music venue, or a piece of public art to unlock points, and take on 40 creative missions that will require photo or video submissions, and/or 60 challenges that can be done from any location, including one’s home.” And in keeping with BFF’s commitment to supporting local bands, there will be live performances outside of the Balboa Theater and Milk Bar. (You can see even more music Wed/1 at the BFF.FM Birthday Bash at the Make-Out Room, which will act as an unofficial kickoff where attendees can make new friends and have the opportunity to build teams.)
“We were thinking of ways to bring back events and support performers safely,” Guest said. “Our community includes several people who are immuno-compromised so we wanted to figure out something that wouldn’t leave anyone out. The idea of a scavenger hunt just leaped out. We did come by it in a strange way—over the pandemic at BFF we became obsessed with the British TV series Taskmaster, which is this ridiculous game show where celebrity contestants face challenges. It just kind of grew from there.
“One of the great things about the Musical Scavenger Hunt is that you can participate as much or as little as you want. It’s a great excuse to explore the city, or bundle up at home and test your knowledge. You can jump in on Saturday if you’re going away Sunday. Or use it as a fun way to meet people all weekend long.”
Besides matching local musical history with sites across the city, and submitting videos and photos to fulfill tuneful challenges, there will be questions like, “How many rickshaws are inside the Rickshaw Stop venue?”
And of course there will be several prizes for winners—stay tuned for those and sign up at the BFF.FM San Francisco Musical Scavenger Hunt page.