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Echo Park Rising Day 2, Saturday August 16th 2014, Reviewed

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Sex Stains

Day 2 at Echo Park Rising was a little quieter. Although there were still a lot of bands playing, the programs inside the Echo and Echoplex were ending sooner, with the last acts scheduled around 8 pm… Plus the main stage had a DJ (Peanut Butter Wolf) to end the night, and some no-so-indie-music with Mexico 68, a full ensemble playing Afro beat and funky music, and Myron & E, a retro soul-R&B duo, very good but also very old school with horn section and synchronized dancing. Nevertheless, I witnessed a girl riot, some grunge kids blowing the roof of the Taix room and true-to-nature hardcore and metal bands in an art gallery.

But I started my day with Aaron Embry at the Echoplex, and, with his red bandana around his long hair, harmonica in mouth and sleeveless Guns ‘n’ Roses shirt, he looked more like a Willie-Nelson-trending-folk hero than the wide-eyed guy wearing a black hat I had seen before. Almost gone the melancholia, here was playful Aaron, doing a few upbeat pop-folk songs with the most beautiful smile. Still, he played ‘Raven’s song’ and a few more nostalgic ones, but they sounded more upbeat without the keyboard. He looked so happy when he performed a song about his daughter, kneeled down when his mic fell down, continued playing and singing as if it were a comfortable position. ‘Thanks for listening, it’s a blessing’ he said at the end of his set with his face and eyes all lightning up. This guy has a pure light inside and it is very rare.

Outside, there was a grrrl riot in the making with Sex Stains, a provocative moniker for two bold women, Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile, Partyline) and choreographer Mecca Vazie Andrews (artistic director of The MOVEMENT). Allison with her shark-week dress and ocean-blue lipstick and Mecca (dressed in a more sober way but having expressive postures) gave a very buoyant performance in a very girlie punk style; it was fast and aggressive, punchy and bouncy, dissonant and sexy, in a very riotous tradition. It was a screaming female dialogue, soon becoming a trio when they were joined by Violence girl/Alice Bag, without a bag on her head but blue hair instead. I was totally enjoying this chaotic revolt and feral release of girl power. Oh yeah there were also guys on stage, Sharif Dumani on guitar, Pachy Garcia on bass and David Orlando on drums, but honestly who even saw them?

It was quieter inside the Taix room with the female-male harmonies of Howls. I watched them a bit and their music was atmospheric, even cathartic, not too dark but not really upbeat either, just floating in between, with enough sexiness and melancholia inside that keyboard to get any indie music lover interested.

Outside it was an afro-beat party but I ran to the Echoplex to try to catch Audacity. Alas, the line to get in was very long and inside it was punk chaos. I couldn’t get even close to the stage, as the kids were non-stop stage diving and crowd surfing with a real violence. Audacity had launched a cheeky punk riot and they had brought more people on stage, I saw a bit of their last songs and it was already over! Not a good idea to run from one stage to another.

But I got to see Washing Machine inside the Taix restaurant and these kids should have produced the same chaos if they had played inside the Echo/Echoplex. The Taix crowd was more contained, while Washing Machine’s blend of punk, grunge and noise rock was resonating aggressively. They were the cutest thing to watch, especially because of their pretty frontgirl and her tiny guitar that she ferociously played. They have been compared to Nirvana meets Sonic Youth, and the singer was singing with his hair covering his entire face just like Kurt Cobain, they shredded and became louder and louder, with some fuzzy outbursts, trashing the place, ripping off a few chords and getting the most of their guitars with whatever seemed to be there. There were noisemakers and chaos organizers, so watch out for them.

While retro soul Myron & E had gathered a good crowd (but thinner than the day before) outside, I watched Monogem for a few minutes inside the Taix room. It was a bit dance-y, poppy and the tall chanteuse had a good voice, soulful and ethereal, accompanied by two keyboards… But where are all the cool kids, I asked myself? Probably inside the Echoplex, watching Together Pangea! I didn’t even try to go after my experience with Audacity, but rather tried to catch more bands at IAM8BIT gallery on Sunset. And it was where everybody was! The air was almost unbreathable, a total sweat party and people were dancing and pushing like maniac… is the air conditioning broken? Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel contributed to raise the temperature even more with their Doors’ Psychedelia reworked through an Echo Park vision. This organ was so Ray Manzarek on mushroom, that it was soon a crowd of long hair shaking, and people in trance-dance. One of them was really into it, cheering and constantly pushing me during his furious dance.

Obliterations were next and I have to take back any use of the adjective furious I may have attributed to previous bands, because, when you see Obliterations nothing else sounds furious. I hadn’t brought any earplugs and they totally fucked up my ears, but I wasn’t the only one in the game, as I saw a lot of people with their fingers in their ears. It was mayhem in front of the stage, under the constant screaming of Sam James Velde and the incessant head banging of people who all had long hair by the way! Sweat was running along my legs, some hair was brushing my back and I heard a lot of ‘fuck the police’ during their set… They were probably the loudest band of all Echo Park Rising, the most dangerous too, and if this screaming can be a bit overwhelming after a few songs, they were a fury as loud as the loudest force of nature.

I ended my night with The Shrine, a metal band from Venice beach, proving that skate boarders are not always punk rockers, but can have a taste for some doomness too… They opened their show with a ‘R.I.P. Jay Adams’ and revealed themselves to be more on the psychedelic side of metal, with the right dose of worshipping and the right amount of violence. The mayhem continued, announcing all their songs, but I couldn’t hear much as I had put some gum paper in my ears,… I had to survive! As I was leaning against an amp on the side of the stage since a spot in the front was not even imaginable, my entire body was vibrating and trembling the whole time. Damn these Black Sabbath and LSD worshippers, they almost killed me. More fun tomorrow.

Plenty of pictures here

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