Echo Park Rising Day One, Thursday August 15th 2019
Echo Park Rising has started its 2019 edition with 4 full days of intense musical activity in my neighborhood.
Since more than 400 artists are playing all over the clubs, cafes, stores along Sunset boulevard and way beyond, I suffer from an intense FOMO for a few days, as each year, covering the festival feels overwhelming. On Thursday, I decided to stay at the same place for the entire night. It is hard enough to stay awake till 1 a.m. on a weekday, so running from one place to the other seemed pointless and a waste of time and energy…. Plus the lineup at the Barbershop looked actually very good, with familiar names and less familiar ones, but even musicians who were not part of the lineup showed up.
The result was a great night of music with friendly faces and if I had to find a theme for the evening it would certainly be a female-fronted-band theme. Six out of the eight bands were effectively fronted by fierce women, from Mean Heat to Turbulent Hearts, and that’s probably a record in this men’s world.
Curated by Brian O’ Connor who organizes Bands in a Barbershop every other month, there was a real consistency in this lineup, with musicians and singers going crescendo on the intense scale, giving a very physical performance or even spitting their guts on the stage
It all started with the fearless, lipstick-running Ted Sluyter of Mean Heat, who knew how to get the attention of the crowd with her badass moves while getting dirty on the floor, then Sophia Anita Reyes of New Evil boxed imaginary enemis with her alien stare, Fifth Element outfit and some unapologetic distortion. There was a lot to watch, as each performer was bringing a passionate element to the scene. Doctrin’s Dolly Denko had the most sweeping melodies with plenty of darkness and some heavy mood, while the poppy bouncy sound of Broken Baby was embodied by the athletic Amber Bollinger getting playful and even dangerous with the crowd. All these women were punching the air with a different brand of appetite but a common love for music and performance. Bone Acre shifted the mood to gothic drama, getting super intense as usual, and ravaging the place with high desert winds through the overpowering stare and spectacular moves of Caroline Heerwagen… who, I suggest, has to open for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at one point! But you can always count on Turbulent Hearts’ Suzi Moon to bring punk chaos in a room when she plays her high-energy raw songs, screaming her head upside down, falling on the amps or jumping in the middle of the crowd… after giving all she had, she even ran away in the street and we never saw her again!
If men bands were underrepresented, nobody couldn’t have missed Beers for Fears and their theatrical, poignant, thunderous over-the-top wizard saga, as if these guys wanted to open a new book of death metal! Birth Defects closed this crazy lineup with their propulsive mosh-pit-ready hard rock, a monster headbanging party loud enough to spill beer on the floor with plenty of brain-crashing guitar solos… And this was just the first day at Echo Park Rising.