Echo Park Rising Day 4, Sunday August 20th 2017
Sunday was the last breath of this impossible-to-cover festival, and once again the Echoplex was the center of attraction. I spent the afternoon and the evening going up and down the stairs connecting the Echo to the Echoplex, and, as the small club upstairs seemed to be the focus of hip hop, rap, DJs and R&B performers, I must admit that the Echoplex and its line up of punk bands was more my kind of scene… I managed to see The Manx, Death Hymn Number 9, Qui, Melted, Facial, Moaning, Babylon and Egrets on Ergot, but I obviously missed a lot of bands which played earlier during this uprising fest.
I was not sure of what was going on at the Echo, as they were behind schedule at one point, and if I saw for a few minutes some ferocious numbers by hip hop artists and other rappers, there was also Shiva Linga, a one-woman band playing her new album backed up by her computer, playing guitar and drums, while mixing R&B with Indian music influences… if you look at the meaning of her name, it’s apparently all over the place, from phallus symbol to ‘a particular stone from an Indian river that is believed to have healing powers for the mind, body, and soul’. So of course her music was all about this I guess. Another highlight was AZUL, a red priestess surrounded by two backup singers draped in black, who was singing over music coming from her iPhone. She knew how to build a strong atmosphere and gave me a Erykah Badu vibe via a Beyonce look.
The Manx were some crazy men, they had manned up their performance with some tight leather shorts and nothing else, while playing an aggressive mix of punk and metal folk-core, producing a cacophonic result involving an accordion and an upright bass. Covered of fake blood (at least I hope) with a soap bubble machine on the side, they looked like butchers after a slaughter party, and were assaulting the stage with dissonance and trash-metal screams. They were certainly very entertaining and could have been a weird disjointed version of Gogol Bordello.
Death Hymn Number 9 played their punk boogie zombie dance with frontman Paul’e’wog screaming our collective rage, whipping the air with his long mane and scaring the ghost out of everyone. Their guitar player may have be sitting down the whole time but they were insanely fast and dangerous, like a death cult reminding us that ‘we are gonna die’… very fast.
Qui was so odd, I am not sure I can even describe the duo’s puzzling performance. Call this avant-garde, punk-oddity with plenty of noise and unexpected stage antics — such as suddenly laying on stage for a cheesy photo op — the duo was probably an exercise in bizarreness, but the woman on my right was so into their music that it was a pleasure to see the joy on her face at each of their abrupt eccentric punk spookiness.
Melted played some good old punk songs, melting faces with their hyper speed-up songs and their huge poppy heart. Justin E on guitar and vocals was shaking his head as if he was undergoing a perpetual electrocution shaking off his ‘Fuck Nazis’ shirt… and I have to say this was the theme of the night, repeated by each band at one point. The trio had a youthful energy, playing fast for the fun of it, fueled by beer and cheap food coming from LA’s many suburbs.
Facial had decided to reinvent grunge, at least this is the image I got when I saw one of the frontmen wearing a ballerina skirt over his jeans, he also had more or less added some feminine touch to his appearance, and his pearl necklace was contrasting with their noisy and distorted guitars. They were loud and aggressive, pushing each other with guitars, chasing a chaos that may have been external and internal.
Moaning were tough, so tough, and frontman Sean Solomon had an unapologetic way to trash the place with furious solos of guitar distortions if he was announcing the apocalypse, and it was totally spectacular. This sounded like an expression of anger and frustration, but it was triumphant at the end, so pedal-heavy and so liberating at the same time.
Babylon was as loud as ever, probably louder than ever, like a new discharge in heavy psychedelia with immense solo guitars and a fog so thick you would get immediately lost in their stoner desert acid trip of fuzz…But their music is probably a way to lose and find yourself again.
I ended this year’s EPR with Egrets on Ergot and their experimental post-art-punk music. They were as weird, raucous, erratic and dissonant as you wish they could be considering their original moniker. Their charismatic and intriguing frontman, Adam Brooks was blowing his saxophone or screaming his poetry with a morose-aggressive tone, and the result oscillated between a cacophony of paranoid self-expression and a call to violence,… but the Nick Cave fan in me is particularly in love with the fact that they have been compared to the Birthday Party!
Echo Park Rising 2017 is over, but I have only read and heard positive feedback from bands which have participated to the festival. It’s an event to make you want to move to Los Angeles, and to make you think the city is the center of indie music.
More pictures here