Christmas is all about cute little kids singing Holidays carols and proud parents filming the shit out of it with better iPhones and cameras than mine, right? Christmas spirit and its yearly extravaganza seem to comeback sooner every year, but in Pasadena, it was about the little kids who were singing with more or less enthusiasm (one of them did not seem to know why he was on stage) on Saturday,… however, it was also about James Supercave and the Warbly Jets, who were playing the free Annual family-friendly Holidayfest, presented by the South Lake Business Association.
You need to work very hard in Southern California to put people into the Holidays mood, because with no snow in sight and plenty of sunshine (wasn’t it 77ºF yesterday) we never really feel it’s Christmas time. For the occasion, the fest had organized horse and carriage rides, holiday crafts for kids, giveaways, holidays open house, scavenger hunt, raffles with plenty of gifts from the businesses around, photos with Santa, holiday characters walking around, carolers,… but I was there for the music and if I regrettably missed the first act, soul pop songstress Jessica Childress, I got to see James Supercave and Warbly Jets and their two distinct infectious blend of rock ‘n’ roll and energetic pop.
Both acts have recently played all over the place, James Supercave have headlined the Troubadour and Warbly Jets have toured with Liam Gallagher this past November… I bet they have a lot of stories to tell. I suppose there is a big transition from the dark nightclubs or large theaters, that both bands have been playing, to a family friendly affair in the middle of the afternoon. I guess no occasion to make your music known should be spared, and future rock stars can’t afford to miss any occasion these days. However, the ambiance was extremely different, at least It was the case for me as I had seen both bands in very different settings, but they nevertheless delivered their music with the same high energy and plenty of conviction.
I have seen James Supercave a few times by now, and they have regularly been playing events in Pasadena — apparently frontman Joaquin Pastor’s family is from the neighborhood as he said it was the closest he had ever played from his dad’s house. They have an eccentric brand of psych pop, with real hits (‘The Right Thing’, ‘Better Strange’, ‘Burn’) sang by Pastor and his sweet falsetto, while the other songs have a real cool and infectious dancefloor instinct, with a sort of LCD Soundsystem layered synth or a more electro-rock sense (‘Get Over Yourself’). Pastor is the unassuming frontman, managing to be cute with a semi-menacing crooked fingers pause, or getting off stage to show his bright varnished shoes and share a dance with a woman having a good time. The dance party was so intense that they smoothly covered Prince’s ‘Controversy’ between two of their songs, and the Purple hit fitted very well depite the vulnerability of their frontman.
Warbly Jets were fresh from their tour with Liam Gallagher, and I suppose the numerous Oasis comparisons they got in the reviews, propelled them to this coveted opening spot, which could launch their career to the next level. They brought their aggressive and stylish rock arena sound to the friendly family festival with fuzzy guitars, loud drumming and a frontman ( Samuel Shea) who still looks like an extra tall adolescent with an angelic face. But they certainly have the rock star look with a touch of UK import, and an attitude ready to channel the greatest from across the Atlantic. I guess all these guitars they put in their songs must have pleased Gallagher, because the Warbly Jets do not wear them as decoration, they break strings and make them roar with a confidence that has probably even grown bigger after this recent tour. Their sound is massive, sexy, like a black leather jacket statement, which may have been made before, but reworked with multi-influences (The Verve is also often cited in reviews), a forceful youth and melodies piercing the loudness.
Pasadena South Lake Holidayfest was not your average Christmas celebration, it was rocking full volume under the warm sun of December. How cannot you love Southern California?
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