Adult Swim brings three days of music, comedy and a cartoon-themed orchestra to Los Angeles


The brain trust behind the eclectic soundtrack of Adult Swim’s TV programming are bringing concerts, rides and a “Rick and Morty”-themed orchestra to Los Angeles.

The inaugural Adult Swim Festival will celebrate the eccentric adult animation programming block’s merger of music and comedy with artists it has featured on the Cartoon Network or on compilation albums.

“We wanted it to be a family affair,” said James DeMarco, Adult Swim’s senior vice president and creative director of on-air. “You could pick almost any artist and we’ve worked with them before, to varying degrees and depths. They’re all artists we admire.”


The festival, being held Friday through Sunday, has 42 performances scheduled, including from T-Pain, Run the Jewels, Big Freedia, Hannibal Buress, Mastodon, Flying Lotus, Thundercat and more at Row DTLA.

Several artists in the festival’s lineup were featured in an Adult Swim project — a show, a musical or a track on the Singles Program, a compilation of music by independent artists.

The Singles Program heavily features independent artists whose music fits best with Adult Swim’s lineup of adult animation such as “Bob’s Burgers,” “Robot Chicken” and the Emmy-winning “Rick and Morty.”

“Rick and Morty,” an original Adult Swim show about the intergalactic adventures of Rick, a mad scientist, and Morty, his 14-year-old grandson, will be the focal point of a 37-piece orchestra led by the show’s composer, Ryan Elder.

“Usually as a composer, our job is to sit in the back and not get in the way of the story,” Elder said in a phone interview last month. “This is an opportunity for me to step out and be completely in the way.”

Elder could not reveal all of the treats planned for the orchestra, but predicted that fans would be pleased. DeMarco did confirm that the fan favorite song “Get Schwifty” from Season 2 will be performed.


“We got some good tricks up our sleeves,” said Elder, who has also composed music for “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “HarmonQuest.” “We are going to perform songs from the show that the fans will love. We’re finding cool ways to present those. New fans or old, i think they will be excited.”

Adult Swim has had a unique relationship with music since the programming block was launched in 2001.

The first example of the brand’s relationship with music was the 2005 album “The Mouse and the Mask,” a collaboration between underground rap legend MF Doom and Grammy-winning producer Danger Mouse. The Adult Swim-themed album featured appearances by characters from shows such as “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” and “Sealab 2021.”

“What we saw from Doom on, was people liked coming to us for music they hadn’t heard before,” Demarco said. “Fans would tells us they never heard J. Dilla before. We started leaning into that more.”

“Do we think it’s cool? Would we like to see it?” are the questions DeMarco and his team ask themselves.