Echo Park Rising Day 3, Saturday August 19th 2017
Saturday at Echo Park Rising was really a full day with its risks and hazards: The Buttertones’ photo pit got invaded by a crowd of screaming girls as if it were the good old days of the Beatles. I could not believe they broke the barriers! The Buttertones play pop music, they are not the Bad Brains, but, it got nevertheless rowdy, very rowdy and this wasn’t the only time it happened that same day.
But it started very quietly and dreamy with Los Angeles Police Department at Taix restaurant. I had seen them before and I still can’t make sense of their moniker choice when they play this pretty, fresh and quiet music with guitars and keys. Some of Ryan Pollie’s songs sound as innocent and wide-eyed as a Wes Anderson movie.
The main stage in front of Taix had a great line-up and kept me busy for a while, but it’s a shame I couldn’t see all the fantastic bands playing inside the Echo/Echoplex, but this festival is so large that it gives you a perpetual FOMO feeling. The Paranoyds were resplendent under the bright sun, they are girls with guitars, drums and synth, and they know how to get dirty with them. One of them, looked like a model with her red leather shirt and red high heels – well she is really a model – but she rolled her back on stage a few times as they all got menacing with freak-out parts, harmonies and a sort of Cramps meets Excene Cervenka vibe.
Between two acts on the main stage, I had a few minutes to check out what’s was going on at Taix and Girliboy was playing at this precise time. Although they want to stay very mysterious with no presence on the web (?), they had nice boy-girl harmonies and a 70s folk-rock glamour presence. On the Liberty stage, Moon Honey looked very good, Jessica Ramsey was wearing a red dress once again, as if it had been the color of the day, and their glam rock via Siam opera was glowing in plain day light. Forget Pinkerton, they are the real deal.
Once again, I had a few minutes to check Lone Kodiak at Taix, and their dark spacious rock, which was a bit melancholic but filled with enough energy to bring the hooks. CRX, on the main stage drew a large crowd, and if their moniker looks like the name of a car, their sound reminded me the Cars and the Strokes… It wasn’t not too hard to understand why, as the band is fronted by Nick Valensi, the guitarist of the Strokes! The music was poppy, heavy, powerful, and not very difficult to like at the first listening because of its inherent familiarity. Of course, the fact that Richie Follin – who has been part of many bands I have seen live many times such as The Willowz, Guards and Cults – was also part of the band, may have explained a lot. And I also have to add that QOTSA’s Joshua Homme helped a bit for their album ‘New Skin’, which was recorded at Homme’s Pink Duck Studio… Obviously, with such pedigrees, they sounded good, like some mini QOTSA at times. However, as they progressed with their set, there weren’t not too many new ideas and the big rock ‘n’ roll dimension was not totally there.
Alice Bag was next, and even though I have seen this ferocious punk woman several times, I always enjoy her punch and radical delivery. She asked us to think about someone who really pisses us off before slaughtering the stage with her song ‘We Will Bury You’, and of course the ex-teacher in her made education rhyme with indoctrination. She is a fighter and a voice, and someone we need more than ever.
And do we need the Buttertones? Do we need another boy band able to unleash another wave of formidable estrogen energy? Like the one which broke loose the barricades in front of the photo pit! I don’t think the Buttertones boys had any idea of what was going on, they continued playing their entire set as if the chaos happening at their feet wasn’t even real. What can I say, I hadn’t seen such mess since a hardcore show, I almost got crushed by the falling barricade (it fell on my back) and it’s a miracle nobody got hurt. The Buttertones play an original goth surf pop with punk outbursts and catchy choruses, there is a saxophone in the mix, they are cute, and they dress up as if they were attending a 50s prom night, but this fury? I can’t make sense of it, although it’s always fascinating.
Because of the Buttertones mayhem, I couldn’t catch very much of Laetitia Sadier’s performance inside the Echoplex, I had realized a bit late she was Stereolab’s singer and for this, I should have left earlier, but excited crowds are always hard to go through. I heard Laetitia’s deep and melancholic voice saying ‘we have time for two more songs’, as she delighted the huge crowd with more of her original compositions.
Surf Curse was also a crazy scene, nobody was able to really enjoy their poppy surf songs as there was an ongoing joyous chaos, people (mostly girls once again) were climbing on stage and were dancing before stage diving above our heads. Shoes and iphones were lost, I lost my sunglasses and decided to escape the anarchic scene to check one last time the Taix room.
Yip Yops were playing there and it was a full house once again! These kids (they look very young) obviously knew how to command the stage and the room, with a sound not so easy to define, a mix of retro new wave and energetic pop. Their frontman was leading the game and pulled an Iggy Pop mid set, as he went shirtless, but with all this jumping in this steamy room, it was quite understandable. Sego, the last band I saw on Saturday, had decided to play in the dark with bright lights illuminating their faces, and it was in a way matching their hard-hitting and frenetic tempos. The music was going in many directions, free punk, pop, rock, layered with a synth, I am not sure I could still give a good description at this point, it was late and there was a sonic chaos in my brain after all these bands. According to a security guard at the Echoplex (who is also in a band, obviously) 450 bands were participating to Echo Park Rising over the weekend, many more than last year, and I wonder how far this could go. Could Echo Park Rising be the next SXSW, only happening in my backyard?
More pictures here