(photo: Pete Lee)
Scott Ferreter and Morgan Bolender are in the middle of a good old-fashioned Bay Area eviction.
Right now, they live in a house in the Oakland hills that is…a lot. It’s a massive structure in the Oakland hills, an explosion of traditional signifiers of Western wealth: columns, high ceilings, and tile floors, all in agreeable shades of beige and white. “So contractors from Mexico built this for his family to live in; modeled it after the mayor’s house in his hometown he grew up in Mexico,” explains Scott of the original owner. Scott lives in what used to be the garage — it’s big enough to function as both a bedroom and a music studio — but he starts this cold afternoon in January huddled with Morgan around the expansive kitchen island over coffee and tea.
But the owners want to move in, so Scott and Morgan going to have to find a new space for themselves and their joint musical project, the Feelings Parade.
The Feelings Parade isn’t just your average new band in the Bay Area. Born out of You’re Going To Die, the long-running San Francisco performance series that confronts mortality, it’s only natural that the Feelings Parade wouldn’t just write tenderly-strummed songs that tug at an audience’s heartstrings. They do, but they also weave in a strong component of emotional openness and contemplation. “Little things that come up, people are just watching real time,” says Morgan of their live shows. “We’ve heard from people that are like, ‘Yeah, we love the music —’”
“‘…but the banter!’” Scott finishes.
In many ways, the Feelings Parade started like a romantic comedy — everyone else could see that they were a band before they ever considered it. After meeting at a You’re Going To Die event, Morgan opened for Scott a few days later. The audience immediately picked up on a pairing that they themselves hadn’t intended. “People responded to us as if it was, like, one offering that we showed up with,” says Scott. People just assumed they were, you know, together. “We ended up going on tour that summer, and because we did all the preparations for the tour together, all of our merch was identical.” So they indulged their peers and the public, and turned that tour — originally called The Feelings Parade — into a partnership. What they ended up creating was part concert, and part, to many people, therapy.
The Feelings Parade is mostly a live experience, generally manifesting in house shows. Though Scott and Morgan are full-time songwriters no, really — you can buy a custom song off of them), the Feelings Parade’s secret weapon is the space the songs create for the expression of emotions otherwise suppressed. “These last…handful of concerts, I feel like at least once every show we’ve gotten a Venmo with the note ‘therapy’ on it,” says Morgan. Their songs swing between utter despondency and sheer joy, and listeners are along for the ride.
During the joyful moments, there’s an warmth that buzzes between the two of them — it’s thick, gooey, and nearly palpable.
But some places access their feelings faster than others. The West Coast, for example. “Boulder, Colorado; Portland; San Diego —” Scott lists.
“The Bay Area,” Morgan adds.
“The Bay Area has the highest tolerance for us,” says Scott. The Midwest, especially the Great Lakes region, are tougher to crack.
No matter where on the spectrum of despondency and joy a crowd sits, there’s a demand for the Feelings Parade’s services. Outside of music, Morgan and Scott are romantic partners — later that afternoon, they sit side by side on a couch in Scott’s space (the house is big enough that they keep separate rooms). Their legs are pulled up onto the seat, feet and calves tangled together as they talk about the ways in which the band has taken on a life of its own. “We don’t even have a website yet!” says Morgan. But shows have been selling out, and for the last handful of performances, they’ve needed to release tickets ahead of time — something they’ve never had to do before. “A Feelings Parade event goes up on Facebook; 200-plus people within a day or two are ‘Going’ or ‘Interested,’” says Morgan. “There are people, like, writing on the