Friends and Friends of Friends



You can spot it all over campus—printed on sweatshirts, embroidered on baseball caps, plastered to the sides of water bottles. It’s a small character made up of three “O”s looped together and two stick legs that stand on a skateboard.


Seattle University student Lauren van Staveren, singer and drummer of Boo Radley & The Kratom Kowboyz.

But of the Seattle University students who can identify the image (it’s the logo for the student-created group “Friends and Friends of Friends”) some still struggle to explain what it represents.

So what is Friends and Friends of Friends (FFF)? It’s common knowledge that the group hosts house shows around Capitol Hill—and more recently, concerts at venues like the Crocodile Back Bar. But aside from that, a cloud of mystery seems to surround them.

In conversations with several students, definitions of FFF have ranged from a group of friends to a full-fledged cult.

Joe Manuel, a senior marketing major better known as “the Godfather of Friends and Friends of Friends,” laughed at the thought of someone assuming he runs a cult.

“No! Friends and Friends of Friends is for everyone,” Manuel said. “I called the first KXSU show ‘Friends and Friends of Friends’, so that basically anyone could play, because almost anyone is a friend of a friend.” That single show in the KXSU lounge began what FFF is today.

During Winter Quarter of his sophomore year, Manuel was the Outreach Director for KXSU, Seattle U’s student-run radio station. He decided to put on a show where anyone could perform, and recruited several of his friends—and their friends—for the gig. He dubbed the show “Friends and Friends of Friends” and started promoting it.

The first video for the show starred Manuel in a bathroom stall, playing guitar and singing a song from David Lynch’s film “Eraserhead”. Senior art history major Paul Fitzpatrick said the video is one of his favorite things FFF has done, due to its unconventionality.


Seattle University students Willy Goldstein and Dane Hilts performing at the Crocodile.

Senior spanish major Dane Hilts, the MC of many FFF shows, reflected on the original show. He said the group wanted to do something strange to surprise the audience, so they brought in a giant garbage bag full of popcorn.

“In the middle of the show, we had someone come in from the back and drop the bag on a stool,” Hilts said. “We had people from the audience just come start shoving their faces with corn. The element of shock was just too funny. We love to pepper in weird stuff through the shows to keep it exciting and unpredictable.”

Adding to the groups’ unconventionality, the FFF security staff at all of its shows is entirely female. Head of security at FFF is senior Rachel Debaise. At the first show, the security detail dressed in all black with flashlights to interrogate people. A running joke of the night was the security question: “Who do you know here?” a pun to the title of Friends and Friends of Friends because the point of the show was to allow everyone an opportunity to perform their talents and watch their friends.


Nello De Angelis performs for the band Birthday Girl.

Fitzpatrick’s band Champagne Babylon has performed at several FFF events. He said the group came to him with the idea of putting on “unconventional” performances. “The first time they approached me about doing a show, they were saying that they encourage all of the artists they work with to do things other than they normally would do at a show, to make it a special event,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think they have upheld that in their performances to this day, by adding stunts and skits into the shows.”

It’s not a company, and it’s not a label. It’s hard hard to pinpoint exactly what it means because it means a lot of different things for a lot of different people.
-Rachel Debaise (Senior)

Champagne Babylon headlined one of the group’s most popular shows at a house at 14th and Marion in the spring of 2016. A sunset show on a sunny day in a huge backyard made for almost 100 people showing up. The FFF team kept to their theme of making the show a little weird by decorating the back yard with vegetables hung from strings.

“We had vegetables strung—it was crazy,” senior Lauren van Staveren said. “It was a 4 p.m. show so the sun was setting, and all of the vegetables seemed to make everybody like very calm… It was just a strange, peaceful, feel-good show and when I look back on [all] the shows, that was definitely the highlight.”


Uta Shimmi plays the electric guitar.

In addition to live shows, Friends and Friends of Friends recently debuted merchandise, and now offers hats for sale on their website. Manuel explained that there was a bit of drama with the hats; some students were hesitant to buy them because it made the group seem too exclusive.


Eric Brown jams out on the electric guitar.

The perceived exclusivity of FFF is a popular misconception about the group. Van Staveren described her experience as being the exact opposite. “It’s formed a really good community in our class, and I think in the classes that are a year below, or even two years below,” she said. “I’ve been hearing lately that it’s more exclusive, which I think is crazy because I don’t see it that way at all. Anybody and come and anyone can come play.”

“Joe has always been really afraid to perform, and he took his feelings, and was like I want to make other people want to perform,” Debaise said. “He wanted to make a space where if he felt comfortable performing in front of people, other people should too.”

Looking back, Manuel admits the name itself does give off a vibe of exclusivity, but insists the group was created with the intention of inclusivity.

“As Joe so eloquently put it a long time ago: It should make you feel like a warm puppy in a hot bath,” Hilts said. But this ultimately leads back to the answer that’s hard to pin down: what is Friends and Friends of Friends? Fitzpatrick thinks it’s best classified as a promotions company. Van Staveren guesses it’s an arts collective.

Debaise is less willing to define the group, and says its purpose is open to interpretation. “It’s not a company, and it’s not a label,” Debaise said. “It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it means because it means a lot of different things for a lot of different people.”

When asked, even Manuel was at a loss for words. “I… I really don’t know! It’s not an arts collective, and it’s not a promotions company,” he said. “I made it and I have it tattooed on my leg, but I still really don’t know how to describe it.”

Though each answer is different, they’re all a little true. Friends and Friends of Friends serves many purposes, while at its core remaining a community for those involved. It’s a place for people to share their art—whatever form it may be in. Live music and merchandise is already secured, and their blog,, is ever-expanding with recordings, posts and words.


The crowd dances to Birthday Girl’s set.

The future of FFF is fairly uncertain. There are no definite long-term plans for the group, but it’s for now they just want to provide a space for people to be creative in a low pressure environment.

What Friends and Friends of Friends does have planned is a bevy of shows for the month of November. On Saturday Nov. 12 there’s a show featuring Animals in the Attic, Sweaty Teenz and Young Mothers. Next week, Revel, Jason McCue and Laurel Freeman will play at Stoneway Café on Nov. 16. Keep up with Friends and Friends of Friends
at their website,

Anna may be reached at
[email protected]