Made In LA With Transviolet, Mondo Cozmo, Dorothy, DJs DāM-FunK, JRocc At Golden Road Brewing, Saturday September 1st 2018
A few years ago, Jay Z tried to launch a Los Angeles edition of his Made in America fest during Labor Day weekend, it didn’t last, but we have now a Made in LA fest hosted by Golden Road Brewery, a beer maker on San Fernando Road… Sure, we are not talking about the same festival dimension, but I love small festivals, they are cozy and easy to handle and Made in LA has everything you are asking for: good music, good food and, of course, plenty of beer.
There is apparently a new trend, concerts in a brewery, as I have already attended a mini-festival at the Brouwerij West in Long Beach last July where a few indie bands performed for an entire afternoon/evening, and the same location will host a concert of metal stoner Sleep in two weeks. Golden Road Brewing, a company which is brewing and canning all kinds of specialty flavored beers (just try their Estella Jalisco x Golden Road Mango Michelada) was hosting this new Made in LA fest, and many people spent some time drinking while watching the delicious lineup of the day featuring Transviolet, Mondo Cozmo, Dorothy, DJs DāM-FunK and JRocc. It looked promising and the afternoon actually was a fun one, despite not being too family-oriented as you obviously had to be +21 to attend!
The opening band, Transviolet, was fronted by the very cute Sarah McTaggart, who had gracious athletic dance moves and a very fresh voice, soaring above the band’s light electro-pop. There were hints of modern R&B and hip-hop and she transformed their hooky choruses into very convincing pop anthems with yearning and poignancy in her vocals, looking like a ray of sunshine in the middle of a sunny afternoon. With the synth-guitar quartet, it was all about energy and movement, while their sentimental ballads were shaken by loud beats, buoyant arrangements, and McTaggart’s high-pitched vocals. She sometimes sounded like a modern twist on one of the First Aid Kit sisters. Their recent song ‘Undo’ premiered last month on Billboard magazine, whereas their debut single ‘Girls Your Age’ was reportedly a favorite of Katy Perry and Harry Styles! With a new deal with BMG, they are undoubtedly on the tracks for great success, with many radio-ready songs blending drama with Sarah McTaggart’s bird-like vocal agility.
Mondo Cozmo was following and despite being a band I have heard about for a while, I just realized that their frontman, singer-songwriter Josh Ostrander, was previously in major label alt-rock bands (Laguardia and Eastern Conference Champions). But with Mondo Cozmo, he may directly go for the mainstream, spanning through plenty of influences at the same time. On Saturday, the band surely went for the big arena rock sound with powerhouse guitars and a blend of folk, rock, soul-pop and especially very catchy melodies… Do we still care about melodies? I certainly do and with Mondo Cozmo, there was barely a moment to search for them as they were popping up one after another one, while the crowd was singing along. Starting with the soulful chorus of ‘Come With Me’, they had the crowd with them from start to finish, during a very tousled set and an energy reaching the sky at sunset. Their sound was expansive and ambitious like a new U2 production (‘11 Acre’) or unapologetic with a more industrial approach (‘Your Motherfucker’) or even passionate like a Killers song (‘Chemical Dream’ or ‘Thunder’). One thing is certain, they had put a spell on the captivated crowd, bringing a large eclecticism in their set, from the electronic dancefloor of ‘Higher’ to some heartfelt stripped down moments, during ‘Sold’ or ‘Hold On To Me’.
And Mondo Cozmo is a band with hits, ‘Shine’ and ‘Thunder’ respectively have 6.8 and 2.7 million streams on Spotify and I hear their recent ‘Tonight Tonight’ on my favorite LA indie rock station all the time. Every song was sung with a fervor à la Springsteen and the music was offering more flavors than the brewery’s beers. Despite an injured arm, Josh Ostrander insisted to play acoustic guitar during ‘Shine’ which was the occasion for a sing-along, just like the euphotic ‘Automatic’, which closed their set. It was bombastic pop with more than a rock ambition, and one or two U2 references in reviews can’t be a bad thing.
But the night was headlined by another power-act, Dorothy, fronted by a woman with enough charisma to have a rock band named after her. Dorothy Martin is not only beautiful, but she owns one of these impressive rock-diva howls, which immediately conquered the place. There was undoubtedly something timeless about the band’s music, a brand of stormy southern blues-rock dominated by Dorothy’s forceful and dark vocals. If she has already been compared to Grace Slick, it’s probably a sign that they were playing during the same time slot than Robert Plant, at Arroyo Seco weekend, last June. I missed her for this reason, but this time, I truly enjoyed their multi-influenced set, from the blues-outlaw country of ‘Raise Hell’, to their song about marijuana ‘Pretty When You’re High’ or their killer blues anthem ‘Ain’t Our Time to Die’. Draped in a black outfit, she looked great and charming, while cultivating a witchy and seductive side, and channeling many great priestesses of rock ‘n’ roll of the past. Lately, the band has been touring a lot to promote their classic-sounding album ’28 Days In The Valley’, which was produced by Linda Perry (Gwen Stefani, Pink) and just released last March via Jay-Z’s Roc Nation… and this may be the only connection between Made in America and Made in LA.
Their stormy songs slated the place, going from metal-like level, to infectious foot-tapping choruses (‘Whiskey Fever’) or stomping numbers (‘Wicked Ones’)… their entire set was sweating Sunset-Strip-Whiskey-A-Go-Go stories, and Dorothy had actually a Sunset strip story… true or not, it was the stuff legends are made of.
Made in LA fest ended with the funk and a Dj set by DāM-FunK, JRocc, and of course more beer… but it continued on Sunday with more notable acts such as Saint Motel, DUCKWRTH, Andre Power and Buyepongo.