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Lolipalooza At The Echo/Echoplex, Saturday June 28th 2014 (Part I)



This new Lolipalooza event had 33 bands playing on three stages in just one afternoon-evening, I managed to see 29 of them, and it felt like a marathon! Yes, I am exhausted today, it was a bit crazy and way too much for the same day, but it’s always the case for festivals. There is no way I am gonna remember what the first or even the 15th band sounded like but who really cares? The whole thing sounded like a celebration of indie music, and the beautiful brouhaha left in my brain today when I tried to remember about yesterday, is all that matters. Lolipop records is a small (should I still say small after yesterday’s extravaganza?) record shop/indie label in Los Angeles, which was founded in 2010 in order to release underground psychedelic/punk/garage rock from LA artists, mostly in cassettes (because they are cheap) and vinyl. Their headquarters are right next to the Echo/Echoplex, so this Lolipalooza totally made sense. Burger Records has its yearly Burgerama in Orange County, but now we will have to deal with an annual celebration of Lolipop records, and according to the sold-out show I attended yesterday, it can only grow from there!

I arrived around 1:30 pm on Saturday afternoon and didn’t stop running from one stage to another past 11 pm… Some bands were playing upstairs at the Echo, others downstairs at the Echoplex and others outside on the patio under the hot sun. Whatever the stage, they all seemed super happy to participate to this new event. Looking at the list of bands, I realized I already knew a few of them, but there were so many others I hadn’t even heard about! Where do all these bands come from? Is there gonna be a time when I will be familiar with every band playing in LA? No way, every time I discover a band, there are ten new ones that pop up like flowers after a rainfall. California terroir is very fertile, maybe not all of these bands are gonna make it, but right now I have the impression to live during the golden age of indie bands.

Lolipalooza even had a pre-party on Friday – I didn’t go as I fell asleep – and this tells you how many bands did participate. Plus, the announced mysterious special guest closing the night turned out to be Thee Oh Sees, so nobody was disappointed, me included. I can’t only give a short impression of each single band, I sometimes stayed too little time listening to them, but I realized they all have band camp pages which helps a lot! Jjuujjuu was very loud and a bit mysterious (their moniker?) and they gave a forceful and sweaty show with lots of pedals and distortion, a bit like psychedelic metal if such a thing exists. I didn’t really figure out what Your Ugly Sister was about, they were loud and weird and seemed to be all over the place in a furious sort of way, wearing long hair and musketeers’ thin mustache then evading in a nervous psych-garage rock. Cobalt Cranes had been working on their look, the desert-western look, and the red roses funeral wreath in the back. They looked interesting with girl-guy harmonies a lot of reverb, and enough psychedelia to add a stoner element,… someone in the crowd was wearing a Charles Manson shirt so I thought the scene was complete. Winter, fronted by a cute blonde smiling girl, sounded like summery pop, a bit nostalgic and a bit dreamy, but definitively more beachy than freezy, so I wondered why they had chosen the coldest season for moniker.

Girl Tears was a guitar-drums duo with a strong punk rhythm, some aggressive riffs, melodic vocals and a singer wearing a cap marked ‘Death’. There was almost a Black-Flag-meets-garage-rock vibe, at least this is what I felt at the moment, but they sure sounded different from the other bands. The Groms were ready for a true rock ‘n’ roll rebel party, with an ‘acid’ cap, bad boy rock outfits, a pirate eye patch, lots of screaming, some jumping-climbing around and a true punk energy… I don’t know why I got the New York Dolls in mind during their set, but they can’t be unpleased by this. Feels, which used to be called Raw Geronimo, was a three-girls-one-guy band with big vocals, a serpent-guitar music, and they had attracted quite a large crowd. Some of their songs had a big-arena sound that I can’t really find on their bandcamp, but at this point I already didn’t know what I was hearing. Yeah, it’s way too many bands at once, but I remember Dirt Dress having some swagger and darkness with some catchy punk rhythms triggering a need to revisit their sound. I have barely had time to hear anything from Union Pacific’s young, retro-poppy songs, running inside the Echo to see a bit of the next band called Burning Palms, but, at this point, I was the one burnt out. Burning Palms (a band from Tucson Arizona) were giving a furious, out-bursting set with girls literally out of breath after a song and a tortured guitarist totally bent on his guitar. One of their songs had the effect of a train slowly arriving in your face, and their sound was easier to figure out than Jeffertitti’s Nile’s puzzling music – that they have described as ‘transcendental space-punk doo-wop’. With a weird 70s feeling thanks to a flute and a sax, the guys of the band, wearing girls’ dresses, gave a very agitated, psych-punk chaotic set… I got the transcendental but less the doo-wop part, but may be they could team up with Tame Impala one day?

Los Craters had a strong 60s surf guitar vibe with a light psych touch, while Palm Flower was certainly memorable for their setting: the female guitarist was kneeling down the whole time, the other guitarist was sitting on a chair and on the floor was lying the giant… setlist? It could have been the setlist or some kind of transcendental prayer, I am not sure but the whole think looked like some weird shoe-gazing ceremony with non-distinct vocals. Drinking Flowers – at last a band I already knew! – filled the Echoplex with their heavy dark psychedelic sound, pulling a strong Brian Jonestown Massacre/Velvet Underground vibe, with dense and immobile guitars and the occasional piercing electronic sound. So Many Wizards’ light dream pop was catchy, uplifting and full of reverb and I couldn’t pass the big blue eyes of the singer. Once again, I barely saw anything from the Electric Magpie but they sounded like a glorious fun party, a bit British invasion may be? Not a bad thing at all, and I knew about Corners and their potentially powerful show. They shared a musician with Jeffertitti’s Nile, and they started the first mosh pit of the day with a big crowd in the Echoplex. I liked their nervous and dangerous (almost goth) beats, haunting their diverse songs mixing surf guitars, a whipping rhythm or some dark wave synth. Plus the singer looks like a young William Dafoe, not a bad thing either.

Many pictures of Lolipalooza here.

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