Make Music Pasadena is Southern California’s largest free music festival, going from 11 a.m. Saturday morning until close to 1 a.m. early Sunday the fest featured approximately 150 bands across 30 different stages. Some venues had bands only for a few hours during the day, and at a few bar stages musicians had to compete with the Belmont Stakes or Kings game for crowd’s attention. The larger outdoor stages drew massive crowds though for bigger acts like Yuna and Surfer Blood as well as local darlings Run River North, Moses Sumney and CMJ Music Marathon alums Saint Motel. Saint Motel’s drummer, Greg Erwin, probably made the biggest impact of the day when he threw his bass drum’s head into the crowd.
While it was cool to see an eclectic group of acts from the entire Southern California region, one of the most eclectic and eye catching acts was SKINMASK, a heavy metal tribal pop band whose members cover themselves in what looks like war or ritualistic body paint. The band performed at the Rock And Roll Industries Magazine stage at 35er bar where the front of the stage was inside the venue, and the back faced the street where lead singer Andre “Laz” Lazaro would address a giant sidewalk crowd which was so large you couldn’t get close enough to see the rest of the band.
Although not officially on the bill for Make Music Pasadena, San Francisco band Waters happened to be playing a free show at a nearby outdoor stage in Pasadena’s historic One Colorado alley for KCRW’s Summer Nights concert series. The show was packed and full of a fun exciting energy, which may have been from everyone’s natural Make Music high or also because Waters was providing all the hooks and encouraging kids, aka anyone under the age of 25, to make their way to the front of the stage for a dance party. The crowd went wild when frontman Van Pierszalowski announced that the band would be moving from S.F. to L.A. in the fall.
Those that wanted to close out the Make Music festival with a bang headed to Old Towne Pub, which by 11 p.m. had a line around the corner to get in. At Old Towne, indie punkers Hobart W. Fink played lots of mosh-worthy licks that weren’t getting the the circle pit action they deserved. For the band’s final song, vocalist Lauren Lakis encouraged the crowd to mosh, but unfortunately the song was slower, somber and probably the least head-bang-esque of the band’s tunes.
The real stars of Old Towne’s lineup though was the up-and-coming local group So Many Wizards. Lead singer Nima Kazerouni could be seen before the set struggling to teach his older friend how to tape the show on an iPad. The band’s chill vibe on its albums sounds very polished, almost like a surf-pop version of Tune-Yards, but live the band’s music had a dirt and grit to it reminiscent of more punky surf bands like Wavves. To complement the band’s rough set, Nima had the crowd flip him off for a photo he later posted to the band’s Facebook page.
Photos by Annie Lesser.