Photo by Annie Lesser
took place at L.A. Historic State Park, with stages located close enough that you could catch two of your favorite bands if they were playing at the same time and the L.A. metro-line trains constantly running across the back of the festival grounds. The stages were smaller than those at most festivals, so it was easy to see musicians geeking out to other bands’ sets. (For example during Girls’ set, former tourmate Smith Westerns’ Max Kakacek was visible cracking a smile from the sidelines.)
The festival was also marked by a more fan fun mentality because of the tickets being priced lower than most festivals, with prices ranging from $35 for the early bird and VIP tickets only going as high as $99. On the festival grounds, many local vintage shops sold their wears, the Echo Park Film Center had a cinema-based crafts table with a filming bus and nighttime screenings, there was a free face-painting stand, and a majority of the food was served out of L.A.’s favorite food trucks. Even the corporate sponsors chilled out a bit, as there weren’t advertisements on every single inch of the stages and videos between sets promoted the bands without corporate add-ons. Instead of stages being named after sponsors, they were all named after the Ninja Turtles. The only push for brands really was in the VIP area where Ben And Jerry’s and Popsicle (both owned by Unilever) handed out free ice cream and Sailor Jerry had a photo booth.
The Descendents, No Age and Guided By Voices induced some epically large mosh pits that left security guards scrambling to catch all of the crowd surfers coming over the barricade. Randy Randall, No Age’s guitarist, had a string fly off of his guitar during his first song, so the whole audience clapped along excitedly to Dean Allen Spunt’s beat as Randall scrambled with the band’s roadie to restring his axe. Guided By Voices partied harder onstage than any of the younger bands that played during the day, smoking, drinking and jumping multiple feet in the air.
Future Islands played on the smallest stage of the festival, inside of a tent, but the band obviously had many more fans than could fit in the small confines, as concertgoers lined up outside of the tarp. Future Islands let audience members jump up onstage for the group’s last song, causing momentary chaos and giddiness as lead singer Samuel Herring offered a hug to every single person who wanted one. Fellow Baltimorean Dan Deacon gave a ground-level performance among the audience members, leading them in dances and singing happy birthday to his friend Juice Box, creating a whole set filled with the energy Future Islands had for its final number.
It was a fun event, but a 12-hour day at a festival is a long day at a festival, no matter how temperate the weather. Most people left drunk. Some people left already hung over. Everyone left covered in dust.
All photos below by Annie Lesser