Echo Park Rising, Sunday August 19th 2018
Echo Park Rising went out with a bang, a big one, as Uniform, a band from Brooklyn who was on tour with Deathheaven, was added at the last minute to the already very crowded lineup of the Echo/Echoplex… it may sound ironic that it took a band from New York to cloture a festival which is focused on the local scene, but it may say a lot about the future ambition of EPR. It’s now big and bigger each year and it is already reaching beyond the local scene. In any case, Uniform destroyed the place with a pulverizing blend of noise punk metal and hardcore, leaving not an inch intact when they were done. When you think you have seen the most aggressive band ever, there is another one, unleashing its own fury with a renewed energy. These guys were unmerciful and were coming back with another vengeful wall of noise at each song, louder and angrier each time. Although I could not understand the lyrics in the surrounding chaos and loudness, they were sweating hardcore nihilism and seemed to tell us only one thing: the world is burning and nobody is gonna get out alive.
I just realized that the majority of the bands I saw on this very sunny L.A. Sunday, were rather dark, as if they were uniformly reflecting these terrifying times,… there was definitively nothing sunny in Dead Dawn’s sinister punk back alleys, where all you could expect was back stabbing, or in the Great Sadness’ sludgy metal, haunted by Cathy Cooper‘s savage shriek which could have inspired a murder in the high desert. Death Bells, with their metal-sounding moniker, had layered dark synth textures inspired by the post punk UK scene of the ‘80s, whereas the sunnier element of the act had to be their very good-looking frontman… and what could I possibly expect from a band called Miserable? More misery of course, coming from the loud fuzz of this woman’s guitar, producing a dark and aggressive shoegaze, letting strong melodies escape the darkness. Vowws sounded first like a more sinister version of Depeche Mode, but they brought deep emotions and passion into a performance played in shadows and fugitive lighting. It was definitively time for anger and aggression with the violent and nervous breakdown dancefloors of The Tissues, with frontgirl Kristine Nevrose screaming and slaying with no tomorrow, Young Jesus were angry hatters with a keyboard, some true weirdos rambling their own chaos, while Secret Stare’s metal riffs were backing up their singer in kimono completed by a pulsing double drumming. Old-timer Ravens Moreland was another one of these devil worshippers with a graveling voice, firing drums, and an industrial-tool noisy guitar, and of course darkness reigned sovereign with Egrets on Ergot, which went just before Uniform, and rose their own chaos, insanely weird and grandiose, with a mosh pit of the same dimension, which never stopped till the night was over.
But the last day of the festival was also led by strong women, and beside the already mentioned Dead Dawn, The Great Sadness, Miserable, The Tissues, bands all fronted by women, there was the fierce Fur Dixon, who did a badass set with memorable tunes of her new album “WTFUKUSHIMA’ while pointing a screaming middle finger to Trump, and I also could mention the queencore band, Hit Bargain, led by a ferocious singer and some new-wave-flavored punk dancefloors, or the grungy explosions of Ramonda Hammer led by the charming Devin.
Between the anger and the darkness, there were some rare moments of tenderness, still on the sad side with Draag and their electro-dreamy soundscapes sprawling with a churchy falsetto, or Goon’s nostalgic poppy tunes, torn down by occasional outbursts of pure grunge. Of course, there also was pure ecstatic joy with GospelbeacH’s steel-pedal Americana and the infectious dancefloors of L.A.Drones’ Neu discotheque, a raccoon-like-dressed duo with a liberating electronic table… Of course, it only was my Echo Park Rising, but there were a thousand other versions of Echo Park Rising,