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Echo Park Rising Day 1, Friday August 14th 2015 Review

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Man or Astro-Man on fire

 

Each year, I get the impression that Echo Park Rising is growing by amazing proportions! The free festival now spreads over three days with hundreds, yes hundreds, of bands playing in a dozen of different locations. How do you cover such an event? You don’t, because you can’t… on Friday I did count about 80 musical acts playing at the Echo, Echoplex, inside and outside the Taix restaurant, at Lot 1, Origami Vinyl,… I am not delusional, I can’t cover such an event by myself, so instead of trying to run a marathon I would never be able to finish, I decided to concentrate on a few bands playing on Liberty Street Main stage, at the Echo and the Echoplex, all located in the same area of Sunset boulevard.

Officials did inaugurate the opening of Echo Park Rising 2015 mid afternoon and despite some technical difficulties on the main stage, Honey Child, an all-women choir fronted by Claire McKeown wrapped the early bird audience with honeyed harmonies. Because the set was all-stripped down, it was all about their beautiful voices, as a keyboard, a ukulele and a violin were the only instruments they used. It was almost church music, as uplifting and classical as Schubert’s most poignant compositions with Claire McKeown’s truly amazing and operatic howl. They covered the Doors’ ‘Riders on the Storm’ with just their voices and a ukulele, their faces melting in the sun.

Another familiar face, Kera and her Lesbians was next on the main stage, and despite some technical difficulties and the heat, she gave a set full of her usual outbursts of energy, these volcanic eruptions followed by show-stoppers falling into quiet moments of whispers and minimal music. Kera is a dynamic performers, once again, she gave everything she had, sweating in the heat wave during a bipolar and bouncy set.

Inside the Echo, Slutever was giving us a lesson in slow grunge with distortion and dissonant vocals, sometimes almost out of tune. The girl duo was ferocious with some decadent stage action, the singer was meowing and rolling her back on the stage while the other one was smashing her drums.

Olin & the Moon was a breath of fresh air in comparison, with slide guitar and the spirit of the old west in mind. Their peaceful and familiar-sounding country-folk-rock was almost radio-ready at time with breezy vocals and big guitars, however I remember about one song going all outlaw country.

Melted was a riot, a punk riot with some wild energy and a violent mosh pit as I expected! The trio developed some super energy with a carefree and fun side, as if Fidlar wanted to get Black Flag’s brutality, if this makes any sense. It was so hot inside the Echo, that it was unbearable, they nevertheless crushed their drums and guitars till the end with the same barbarity.

Fantastic Negrito was a stylish bluesy number with elegant dancing and a very charismatic and theatrical frontman, singing over soulful and intense music. Add to this an old school trembling organ, some gospel-like preaching, an haranguing style, some plaintive slave-chants and violent guitar assaults and you had a very intense number.

CG Roxanne & the Nightmares had great melodies and a punk energy, and I know this could apply to a lot of bands but should I had that their stage attitude was very muscular and that their songs were some short bullet-like killer-machines? A bit Ramones-y at times, another one had a steel guitar… they had certainly the attitude and the songs.

Swimm was a large band with a poppier sound and a catchy tempo, adding some percussion or even an harmonica in the mix. Their sound was a bit dreamy, dance-y with a touch of sun-drenched psychedelia as if they were swimming between Tame Impala and the War on Drugs? Nevertheless their last song was a bluesier thunder-like number.

Rat Fist was an intense experience, but it should not have been a surprise knowing that they are the DIY garage project from No Age’s Randy Randall and Pissed Jeans’ Sean McGuiness. It was noise terror, hard psychedelia you can almost palp and touch, raw rage and I wanted to hear more, but people in my company were fearing to lose their hearing.

Back outside for the rest of the evening, Man or Astro-Man? in orange jumpsuit and Jetsons-type outfit were a lot of fun with a goofy attitude. Mostly instrumental, their surf rock number was like Dick Dale meets the B 52’s meets Star Trek (or rather some more obscure sci-fi old movies), mixing craziness and punk energy. Of course they had a theremin, and they even put it on fire, for real, they were an eccentric bunch and the mosh pit they triggered was amazingly dangerous.

Dengue Fever closed the night on the main stage, bringing their Cambodian-retro-pop fusion with Chhom Nimol’s childlike croon punctuated by sax and trumpets. She said it was as hot as her country, just drier and they made people dance and clap along their psychedelic and layered world music… I am not sure I want to call it world music, they were super exotic but very cinematic at the same time with modern arrangements and fully-orchestrated groves and jams.

This was day 1 at Echo Park Rising, and I am well aware I have not even seen a tenth of what was going on all over the numerous locations. Born from the Sunset Junction Fair’s ashes, this event has turned into a truly impressive musical beast.

Many pictures of the bands here.

 



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