Posts Tagged ‘Music festival


Culture Collide Blowing Up the International Indie and Alternative Music Scenes in Silver Lake

I recieved  an invite from Filter Magazine, of whom I’m a subscriber to their email updates, for the kick off of event for Cultural Collide Music Festival for the concert feature Nirvana: Live At The Paramount. A concert filmed in 1991 had been forgotten till recently. Once found it’s been cleaned up and edited from 16mm down to 1080P High Definition. While the invite suggested I should post this invite to my page with a “like” I couldn’t bring myself to do this. I did share it with a few of what I’d consider devotees of Nirvana or true music fans and close friends. I couldn’t stand the idea of fighting people to find a seat or standing in any line that were a quarter mile long. Thankfully, the tactic paid off making entrance easy and more exclusive. So the lesson here is if you want to be in the know you need to get your finger is the pie or you’re going to have to get your toes wet if you want to be in the action! This Wednesday at the Vista the showing took place with a sizable crowd but no nuttiness. I was very impressed with the feature. It was a perfect time capsule of the band represented and the Punk Rock culture of the time. First point of interest, for me, was when Kurt referred to was when he referred to the music he made as Punk music, not Grunge. So Kurt saw what he was doing as Punk and being true to those ethos. Awe, Grunge you are such a lovely marketing term. Another point of interest was the band’s dress or “Look” was composed: there was no stylist there throwing furs, bedazzling thingies or designer gear on them. Kurt had a sweater with a few moth holes in it, a tee and jeans. No dressing for success here! The sound of the feature was superb and the imaging was superior. For those who weren’t there when it happened it will be a revelatory experience, or others this will be a reminder of how genuine and real music performances were and can be. I left satisfied with the nearest thing to a live Nirvana concert one can receive now. It’s worth giving it a view.

Come Friday I was ready for some live music action and so directed myself to the hot bed of activity of Cultural Collide at Taix for a mixer featuring a number of Dutch bands, in this case it De Staats. What a surprise there were, delightfully quirky and I think there was a socio-political message too. They had this odd charm, the lead singer in proper business dress, while the rest of the band were in musician gear. I think he would’ve dropped the look if he had known how hot Taix was going to be. The lead had presence and knew how to keep it moving and to keep it interesting. There sound was with filled  tinkling keyboards and at had a military cadence at times that bring to mind bands like Wall of Voodoo, Pulp or Oingo Bingo but with a less stylized or quirky vocal approach. I felt, had I been from the Netherlands, I would have picked up on a lot of satire and humor in their presentation. Nonetheless, they were a wonderful way to start the evening off in the right way.

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WIM was the next band on my itinerary or should I say, I stumbled upon them in the Champagne Room of Taix. Hum, happy endings… I was immediately struck by the front man’s presences: vocally gifted, very emotive and dramatic in his presentation. He was captivating, moving and gesturing in a very interesting manner while delivering impressive and stylish vocal performance. I thought at first they were some nutty Eastern European band that was branded as being folk glam. Is this a departure from Freak Folk? He approached the mic like a Silent Movie Star would approach a love interest: brooding, steamy and filled with dark lust. By the second song I was sold and the ladies there had been on board long before I showed up. They temperture raised a few degrees while the band slyly slipped their had up out skirts, musically speaking, while we fell into a trace of ungarded pleasure. WIM is a remarkable band and a must see!

I arrived in time to catch Portugal’s The Gift. The lead singer, has an exotic look and a lively stage presence. She dances and takes dramatic poses, while she delivers a poppy Alternative Rock. Not quite No Doubt, not quite Lena Lovich nor quite Loop Guru, The Gift delivers a tuneful dance Rock that is closer to mainstream or Euro pop than what I’d consider alternative, but lively in any case. Their sound is lush with keyboards, riffy guitars and power drumming. During the last song they the keyboardist used a theremin to great and dramatic affect bumping the overall energy and excitement to the show as a whole.

Next on my wish list was The Morning After Girl. These guys were great, providing dense dark hypnotic melodic alternative Rock to a ever growing crowd. The buzz I had received was on target and they delivered. Somewhere in the realm of Spiritualize, Pink Mountain tops or the Verve this band was a knock out pulling off an awesome interpretation of Neo-Phychedelic Rock. I could have listened to a longer set and nested there for the rest of the night had I not had more trouble to get into. The Morning After Girl knew their instruments had good stage presence and the lighting only made the experience richer and put this band on my hit list to visit again.

The local buzz on Avi Buffalo had drawn my attention to what all the hub-bub was about. So, I trekked back Taix’s Champagne room for my last show for the night. I’d say what Avi Buffalo is somewhat like Darker My Love but referencing more of Bob Dylan and less of Tom Petty with a big dip in to Neil Young and Crazy Horse and the tiniest dash of White Strips. The sound is folkish but in an electric way and in a singer song writer way too. The lyrics are thought driven and introspective. The audience were composed of Hipsters and young locals. It reminds me of how I’d often go to see Tell Tale Hearts in San Diego part of the Garage Sixties sound that was a subculture to the Punk subculture.  I found them to be more rewarding than Darker My Love: more song craft and musicality. I look forward to digging deeper with this band as time goes on. Cultural Collide has curated so far some memorable and amazing talent. I can’t wait to get my Rocks of fop the rest of the weekend here i Silver Lake.


Eagle Rock Music Festival: As the gods would have it!

My covering of the 13th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival had it seeds sewn early, as early as SXSW, in Austin this year. It was further fertilized by my experiences with Sunset Junction’s collapse has this story unfurling in a surprising and grand manner. Sunset Junction with it’s own legacy in the music festival circuit as the Mother of all LA based street festivals. Sunset Junction was the inspiration for the blossoming Eagle Rock Music Festival. The seeds were sewn with my introduction to the delightful Peggy Ellithorpe at an Interactive hoedown in the convention center in Austin, while I was covering Film and Music for the 10 non-stop-free-for-all days at SXSW. We share a common interest in film and music. The Artivist Film Festival arrived and I jumped at the chance to volunteer, knowing she was managing it. I had the best time, meeting some great creative folks and participating in a good effort. It so happened she was to be running the social media and volunteers for “ERMF”. I bellied up to the bar once again to one of her volunteers and to be a part of one of my favorite local festivals. As the days approached I was able to include a couple of friends to volunteer for the festival. I was rather proud of myself for doing so. I got a film buddy, Scott Marsall, involved with a new friend: a charming exchange student named Mocha, fresh from China. They both jumped on board to be a part of this very ambitious and difficult feat of helping in putting a music festival together. I won’t say I was counting off the days, but I was truly looking forward photographing the crowds and bands who were booked for one of the coolest street fairs in a beautiful part of Los Angeles.

I haunt places like Oinster’s, Columbo’s Italian Steak House, Cocoa Mexicatessen, Colorado Wine Company, Swork, Casa Bianca Pizza and Taco Spot. So being a part of my communities festivities is a complete natural. So when Saturday arrived, I was ready. I networked my networks and was ready to hatch the long anticipated plan. So I locked it in with my girl, Mocha, and my boy, Scott. I was considering live blogging the event. I started the process by putting up a brief article on my previous adventures at the Eagle Rock Music Festival the night before. Later that day I would discover that my dream couldn’t be realized. Swork, unknown to me, had shut down their network for the festival promptly 5pm. So after 5pm it was a total snafu! I was a bit bummed. Returning to the topic at hand, I picked up Mocha, near USC, where she generously added Tiffany to our ranks. From there we scooted through downtown till I found a Harbor Freeway entrance near Staples. In a flash we had nested close to Colorado, near the public Library on a shady street. It was nice getting to know Tiffany and catching up with Mocha now she’s full time at USC. Our next launch was to the volunteer station for check in and orientation.

The girls were excited to be a part of their first music festival. They couldn’t wait to sign up and start their shifts. We lingered a bit. The girls got their way and signed up; all the while we were sucking in the rather warm and very sunny afternoon. Once done we scurried off to Swork for refreshments and my meet up with Scott. We metaphorically spread our wings in the cool ease of Swork family friendly coffee shop. Scott and I made the necessary plans for my photo and video efforts for shooting the bands. The good news was there was a lot to work with and the bad news was the limited time to document all the entertainment. We had a full plate! After downing one “Prep” iced coffee we all headed back the volunteer center to get the ball rolling. The charming Zuleikha, Peggy’s assistant, was handleing the signing in and orientations for all the volunteers. Scott got several candid and posed photos form both Mocha and Tiffany to save some memories for later. Then much to my inner child’s delight my most favoritest volunteer, Nicki, rolled in with her own special style completely on fire as usual. She was punkishly pumped with effervescent energy and I was thrilled to see her. Being around her I feel both gay and straight, as she rolls out her fabulous and snickering devilishly dirty tails cronicaling her love life. Every story is purely a hilarious outrage of her love interests. Her and I kibitzed for 20 minutes dragging Scott into it, that included a ride to a ticket station while she lamented her “Burner love affair” with an artist who revealed his involvement with a French woman who was living in Paris. Now to Nicki’s outrage the French woman will soon be moving to San Francisco to take up permanently with the artist. I told her she’s not usually the third wheel in a relationship and I was surprised she had let this happened! As she told the story my ears were burning form the salacious naughtiness that was both intoxicating and outrageous, my ears were on fire form the dirt and outrage! I got a full dose of the good stuff and I didn’t want to leave it alone. I think there’s going to be a lot of hot sex and crying in San Francisco soon! Ultimately, we had to return to the sanity of our work. Mocha and Tiffany, my China Dolls, were given a station to collect donations, while Scott and I were on our merry way to collect images and memories.

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From this point on the playing was over and we were on the run! Scott was being my faithful assistant who held my tripod as we scooted up and down Colorado. Dub Lab was our first stage of the festival. The brochure referred to the the stage as Dub (Future Roots) Lab featuring Carlos Niño and the Arohi Ensemble. I was quickly intrigued with the two men with a combination of sitar and Cello going through the rigors of sound check. I popped off a few shots and eyeballed the situation long enough to get the jest of the overall set-up. I was lucky enough to get Carlos Niño sitting in the background of the shots. Later, I would return to hear Arohi Ensemble melodic trance raga and jazz mix where they had added a lilting flute to the mix that flowed evenly while intertwining, then the flute lifting elegantly as an accent to the drone of the sitar and melody of the cello. But for the moment sound checks can eat up time and we were on the move again. We jaunted up to the Emerging Artist Stage to find Kenan Bell all hot into it riffing and rapping over drum and rhythm guitar with a sweet backing vocalist. She belted out her backing vocals while shaking this amazing mane of cork screw curly hair like it was a San Franciscan freak flag! I kept thinking Chaka Kahn, Chaka Kahn, Chaka Kahn while she shook and flung that hair as she sung. A lot The Knux, Kenan Bell, has a bit of Rock interwoven in his Hip Hop. From the Emerging Artist Stage we moved to the Low End Theory Stage. Karen would later in the evening explain where the term “Low End Theory” to me. She’d explain how it came to be a cultural reference point from the album by A Tribe Called Quest to obviously embed as part of the Eagle Rock Music Festival’s stage name. The story starts with Q-Tip’s admiration of Jazz, in particular Miles Davis. In fact, so much so, that Q-Tip approached Ron Carter, a long time bass player for Miles, to play bass for him on what would become the album “Low End Theory”. Karen sighting the story where Q-Tip left a phone message on Ron’s message machine asking Ron to play for him. Ron didn’t know who Q-Tip was. Ron is far removed from that world and out of the loop. Ron called his son to get his thoughts. He ask his son in that conversation “What’s a Q-Tip?”. When his son heard this he told Ron, his Dad, he had to play for Q-Tip, knowing Q-Tip’s rep. Ron played on the Low End Theory album which was a defining moment in Hip Hop and Jazz synthesis. I was glad to get the DL on the low down on the etiology of Low End Theory. That story was still hours a way and the sun was still bright and the crowds were beginning to flow in as DJ Daddy Kev passed the baton on to Dj D-Style to spin the wheels of steel. We lingered there for a while and then took it back to base for my first attempt to live bloging. Soon the dream was shattered with Sworks no internet for the festival policy. That through me a devastating and time consuming curve. Nonetheless, f the ashes of dreamy dreams I refocused and Scott and I were back on our way to cover the music!

We caught Ellen and Matt at the Family Stage jumping franticly: singing, spinning bringing joy to the little soldiers who were gleefully mirroring what they were seeing and listening to from a bag of magic of inspiring songs. I’m going leave this performance, as simply as a good thing, as apposed to finding some critical thread and intellectual drive behind “Good ole fun”. Yes, we marched on returning to Dub Lab long enough to catch Mia Doi Todd simple acoustic singer songwriter style grace a captivated medium size audience with her beautifully lilting melodic folk/soul music. It was her, a guitar, a voice with a shaker providing light percussion pacing along with her vocals and her guitar. The sun was fading at this point and she was serenading us in the dusk. Scott and I made a last stand to check on Mocha and Tiffany who so dutifully taking donations. Their location allowed them receive the full blast of the Low End Theory’s bass barrage. We bid our farewells as the street were thickening further unknowing seeing them for the last time. We pushed up the second time towards to the Low End Theory stage. The smell of weed was in abundance as we sifted through the crowd to finally break out on the other side to glimpse Panang, the aesthetic harbor for both the Ship and Kingsize Stages. I’d been dreaming of the Kingsize stage for the last couple days and felt it was my mission to make it! These stages were turning over the music acts at a frantic pace with lots of straight on Rockin’! Scott, ever faithful to the calling of assisting me was ready to set up at any moment. As the dust began to settle around us Karen peeked through the crowd and garbed me. It was good to see her and we Kibitz while making the introductions. She was there to support Ronna, an old friend, and the bands of Kingsize Sound Lab. It wasn’t long till we were treated to a great sound from a San Francisco band called Buffalo Electric‘s performing an energetic set delivering their Gaurage/Punk inspired music. They brought it with bright searing guitar, rumbly bass and pounding drums! They drove it home with verve pulling on strong Rock N’ Roll traditions. They had both Karen and I bumping and bopping through the whole set. They had the “look” too: skinny jeans, sharp black shoes, mopish hair with big fat chops. I know that Low End Theory had the big crowds but the future was staring us right in the face and we were staring right back at it! Next on the Ship stage was Molino a fine indie ensemble, tight polished and professional that kept the crowd pleased in the Panang’s parking lot. They were the only band to use a smoke machine. I might add, that the smoke made for some mighty fine photos! At this point I was well aware that if we didn’t drift soon, it was my job to drift, I’d be locked in for the rest of the night at Ship and Kingsize because of the splendid roaster of talent to close the night out. So we slipped back in the direction of the volunteer center, but not before getting a little jiggy at Welcome Inn Stage staring Bonne Musique Zydeco. We arrived to a full parking lot of shaking booties. All around us was “Big Easy” merry making! Yes, there were beads while Bonne Musique Zydeco was playing like nobody’s business from the balcony of the Welcome Inn. That’s right, lifting the bar for SoCal by putting the “Partay!” into the word party and so lifting our spirits by bringing me back to those special qualities I so fondly embraced from my adventures in NOLA. It was the real deal using all the right elements like accordion, washboard, rhythm and bass guitar and managing a drum kit up on the balcony.  Bonne Musique Zydeco delivering classic Zydeco to all of those in the parking lot. It was simply marvelous as we soaked up the flavor. Sadly, Scott had to make his way home to get ready to hit Vegas for some upcoming work so we had to roll. We said our goodbyes at the volunteer center. I was very grateful for his help. By this time I had completely lost Mocha and Tiffany. Sure there was a lively text thing going on between us. On one occasion the text was Chinese script. For the record they were out and off on their first adult playground experience. I’m not the no guy when it comes to that kind of thing!

At this point my feet were made of lead and throbbing sore. So we rested. Karen and I nibbled and sat to recoup before our final phalanx to cut through all those shrink rapped packed bodies at Low End Theory Stage. We caught a ride on one of the carts which stalled in the middle of the crowd at Low End Theory Stage, but not before we ran in to Tim and Miki who passed us walking. This gives you an idea of our speed on the cart. We jumped off and started walking pushing through the crowd. Through the crowd I ran into Eva Juneau who works with Edgar Varela at EVFA. We hi-fived having no opportunities to hug. Karen and I finally pressed through to find ourselves in front of the Kingsize stage again just in time to catch Chicago legend Dorain Taj, a former member of “The Articles of Faith” play! Hitting the stage Dorian Taj was “ON” from the get-go: they were a Rolling Thunder Review, an E-Street Band or a Rolling Stones performance on steriods. They were far from synchronized but they pulsed with every ounce of their bodies and souls making them riveting to watch and listen to. I kept getting Hurricane Carter stuck in my mind when I was taking in the  performance. They were vibrant, a Rock N’ Roll narcotic, rummaging on stage delivering tasty licks, urgent soulful vocals with a bluesy indie Rock feel to the songs. They didn’t let up till they left the stage. The audience was all agog at what they had witnessed and followed Dorian Taj’s exit with a round of applauding praise that thundered long after their power serge performance. Next up was Blonde Summer. Their sound has an indie vibe reminisant of Von Bondies or Death Cab for Cutie with a little more bite in it. Blonde Summer had a solid performance locking in a tight performance, but to be honest a bit of a come down after Dorian Taj manic stage attack! The whole night in the Panang’s parking lot bands were rifling back and forth between the Ship and the Kingsize Stages. To me the best bang for the buck because there was little down time in between sets. Hailing for Portland, Adventure Gallery, who have been recording at Kingsize Soundlabs pounced to plant themselves on the Kingsize Stage. Adventure Gallery are not the shy types either! I kept rehearsing how they were from the same seedbed as the Dandy Whorhals. They shared similar attitudes in their writing style but the music drifted from a Warhol’s sound. Adventure Gallery filled the stage and I mean “Filled” it, literally, completely across from left to right. Adventure Gallery is a high energy ensemble with a combination of Rock energy and Dance fever. At times they vibe like Airborne Toxic Event or Duran Duran without Simon Le Bon or a bunch of randy boys with guitars and keyboards on a mission! The crowd that gathered around them in Panang’s parking lot were ready to dance! The band only encouraged them all by raising the pitch, winding everyone up with every new pulsing song. Great music and a solid engaging performance tightened up the crowd at this point. The bar was lifting toward the next band Shadow Shadow Shade performance. Strangely, a week ago I notice that I had a link attributed to them observing my blog. That link brought me to a page where Shadow Shadow Shade‘s music was featured. I gave them a listen and I liked what I heard. All of this making the world seem a much smaller. So I was keyed on their performance to catch the live version of the recorded version I’d heard the week previously. They were introduced as one of the oldest bands in LA and I find that hard to believe knowing of Rick Wilder’s Mau Maus, The Weirdos or the Gears. But I played along. The opening riff of their set starts like the Sex Pistols Anarchy In The UK but by the second bar they had made it their own, pushing forward into their own material. Their sound embraced more or less an alternative garage inspired Rock sound that hinted of Lou Reed structure with mostly male leads that were accented with just the right amount of intertwining male/female harmonies with effortless intoxicating affect. The fans were drawing in close and I might say they were fanatical. The crowd was resisting my moves forward to get the better shots. I had to get all “Photog” on them to make any headway to lock in any quality images of the band owning the stage. Karen was already there getting her groove on. So I moved closer to her seeking refuge from the very focused fans. They had a well paced show that keep the tempos changing from song to song. Some songs more Rockin’ and those that were more etherial and dramatic. They put an effective power packed show leaving folks wanting more, but alas, the set were clocked in at 30 minutes and there was no leeway to make room for the next band. For me this was an appropriate rapturous end to a frenetic, eventful and exciting day. I bid my farewells to Karen to finally relocate to the volunteer center to catch up with Peggy on photos, festival close out and final sharing our mutual delight and exhaustion. Right after that I had a chance run in with Tonya as I was scooting towards my car. She’s a great drummer, an inspiration of joy and determination in the music community. She was good enough to invite me to an after party but once she really looked me over she determined I had had plenty of party for the day. We shared a big hug. I was off to the car with plans to get the photos up by the next day. This 13th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival was every bit as challenging as anything SXSW has thrown at me and every bit as rewarding as SXSW has been, for me as well. It was a day and a night of mixing with enthusiastic crowds, working and playing with wonderful friends and listening to amazing bands! All the adventures and exploits of the day are going to some make bright and warming memories that will last for years to come. My hat’s off to another offering from the Eagle Rock’s Center For the Arts for putting together their most stunning music festival yet!

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