Highlights from Saturday/Sunday
I legitimately don’t feel like I can even write this post right now because I took zero notes this weekend, so I’m running 100 percent off memory and a few camera photos. But, I’ll touch lightly on the highlights as brought to you by my post-hangover brain, which is firing impulses across synaptic gaps at a much slower rate today. This was my first time at Echo Park Rising (EPR), an event in its fifth year since its inception in 2010. I’ve been to one music festival ever, and that was Outsidelands in 2011, which was an absolute must because it played host to the Shins’ first appearance since initiating a multi-year hiatus in 2008. But, generally speaking, I don’t seek out contemporary music festivals due to over-commercialization and because paying $400 to watch a video monitor from a distance of 400 feet doesn’t really do it for me. Fortunately, EPR is nothing like that.
I missed Friday, and consequently Fever the Ghost et al., because I’m an adult and have responsibilities, like a Monday through Friday nine-to-fiver. But, I made my way down Saturday afternoon, checked into the Hollywood Historic Hotel for the night and Uber’d over to West Sunset Blvd.
The nice thing about EPR is that it is a free event, which means you are able to casually stroll between stages without this feeling like you HAVE to be somewhere, lest you be depleting your time at the bar. EPR is a buffet of lesser known bands served up with better known artists, as was certainly evident Sunday at the Lolipop Records vs. Burger Records exhibition on the Echo stage, which is a great way to introduce yourself to music you might never have otherwise heard.
So, I’ll begin with Saturday… I missed the Buttertones and Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel, who I saw this past November with Corners and briefly touch on here. I also missed out on Tennis System and Deap Vally, but I did catch Talk In Tongues, who has a great standout track on the EPR playlist on Spotify by the title “Still Don’t Seem to Care,” before heading downstairs to the Echoplex. A new band for me and favorite from Saturday night, Maudlin Strangers came out strong and finished off even stronger with their EP title track, “Overdose,” performed with 10 times more energy than the recorded version. A note to the band, please please please record this track live! It always helps when the band is humble and kind as well, which was evident with their crowd integration post-set, during which time I congratulated the singer on a job well done, with him being graciously thankful for the compliment.
And, then came a band called FartBarf, a simian-masked NASA uniform-clad trio on synthesizers (oh- with live drums), playing dance electro-pop and encouraging a carousing crowd response. It’s not so much my preference in music, but I have some friends who would absolutely love it (I’m talking to you specifically, Justin Ekema (DGD’s site builder)). Superhumanoids played next, and though I’m no audio engineer, the vocals seemed a little hot in the first song of their set. But, things improved thereafter. Singer Sarah Chernoff’s light and breathy singing tethered to the groups’ 80s synth pop sound is ethereal, and she definitely works her fingers through that brown curly hair.
Calling it an early night, ‘the Mr.’ and I headed across the street to get some pizza and pasta and adventitiously save a young girl from sexual harassment from an incredibly disturbed 40-year old girly-site “photographer,” with an early 2000s SnapShot and a van most suitable for women and child abductions. Why do you have wood lattice across the back of your van, creeper? Get out of here.
The next morning was utilized to reconnect with Little Tokyo and EightyTwo in DTLA’s Arts District (see here for my brief write-up on LA Barcades). There’s an inherit need some humans spontaneously develop to feed machines quarters, particularly when they’re not at a coin wash. Apparently, our job was to be superheroes for the weekend because some self-centered idiot left his two dogs in his Toyota in direct sunlight in 98 degree weather for at least 10 minutes, the time during which I waited for him to return to his car, but likely for much longer. 911 dispatched a police unit just in case, and I didn’t wait around to witness the result of that confrontation, but good luck explaining yourself, buddy. Dogs die in hot cars.
We made it a goal to head over to Silverlake before 4:15pm because never before have I seen so many wizards… I mean, So Many Wizards! …surely the most magical of band names. It was brutally hot, and the indoor venues weren’t much cooler. The band played through it like a champ and put on a great, but short, show before dissembling to send Nima Kazerouni downstairs to play with his band, Crown Plaza. His other two bands, Human Touch and Nectarine wouldn’t be playing that weekend – wow that’s a lot of bands to juggle! Noticeably missing from the set list was “Inner City,” presumably because the female vocalist from the track wasn’t present, but the song is one of my favorites, nonetheless.
In an attempt to stay positive and to not disparage, names shall remain out of the following brief commentary. I did catch a band that reminded me why music is subjective – some people will love your music, and some people simply won’t. Regarding this particular band, if you’re “Jane and the John Does,” for instance, simply because Jane is the front-woman doesn’t mean that the John Does take a back seat. So, what essentially occurred is that the singer’s vocals were pushed too high in the mix, and she dominated the instrumentals rather than blending into them, making no attempt to acknowledge or correct the imbalance in the levels. She had a beautiful voice, but there was nothing subtle about her vocals or her movement or her presence in general, and that’s what I love so much about indie music: it’s not this hit-you-over-the-head, repetitious, obvious and uninspired drivel that is prevalent in much of mainstream. I found the experience comparable to watching Fairuza Balk have her “He’s sorry” tantrum on stage to the sound of Amy Lee from Evanescence singing acapella. No thank you. Next topic…
Another new band for me, Adult Books had a great set, and was thusly awarded with a bevy of bodies slamming into each other in admiration. I try not to compare too much, because every band is unique, but Bass Drum of Death, another high energy garage band, came to mind, although I do think Adult Books seems a little more tame, a bit more pop, and a lot less lo-fi. Okay, perhaps they’re not all too similar, but very good nonetheless.
Regretfully, I was thinking bands weren’t actually playing Origami Vinyl and were perhaps just making appearances. Strolling by a line out the door of people just trying to catch a glimpse of Frankie Rose setting up to play from a loft above the shop, I stopped dead in my tracks. If you don’t know her music, her resume should be enough to flag your attention: she has played in Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, and Vivian Girls – a very impressive resume, indeed. She began playing, and I couldn’t hear a thing with all the street traffic and passersby, so I continued en route to grab some deep dish pizza at Masa and will be kicking myself for the rest of the week.
Though I had to get going for the night, I would have enjoyed staying for Death Valley Girls and, of course, Corners. Anyone out there who went to EPR this past weekend, are there any standout bands I missed?by