I know that we’ve gone so far beyond Peak Music Festival at this point it’s bordering on parody. So why not just sit back and embrace it for the embarrassment of riches that it is? In Southern California alone you could have seen Beyonce effectively have a legendary fest renamed in her honor. Then you could venture out to Long Beach in September to bliss out as the Church perform their classic album Starfish literally “Under the Milky Way” as part of Music Tastes Good. All of this within the span of less than a year!
This brings me to my need to highlight yet another great fest happening next weekend right in our own backyard which is miraculously somehow not yet sold out. Everyone I know who made it out to Arroyo Seco last year marveled at how well organized it was, how easy it was to maneuver, and just how relaxed it felt overall. Add that ease of experience to the delightfully diverse line-up which ranges from Third Eye Blind to Kamasi Washington and your desire to attend should be a no-brainer. As we are wont to do on these humble pages, allow me to offer a few suggestions of artists that are not to be missed during what is sure to be a lovely weekend in Pasadena.
Belle & Sebastian
I’ve seen B&S live more than any other band, and they always manage to delight and surprise. Yes, I’m a super fan so I get a particular thrill in discovering which deep cut they’ve dusted off for that particular show (there’s always at least one), but even if you’re not at that level – honestly even if you’ve never heard a single note of their music you’ll still be deeply entertained. Primary front man Stuart Murdoch has an incredible understanding of what it means to put on a proper show which lends each live set from Belle & Sebastian a sort of old fashioned review quality the likes of which I can never get enough. When they played the Hollywood Bowl last year as part of KCRW’s World Festival they encored with “Lazy Line Painter Jane,” and had opener Kristin Kontrol admirably take on the vocal challenge that song presents. It could be fun to look through the rest of the Arroyo Seco line-up to see what other collaborative opportunities may arise.
The first thing I heard from Brazilian crooner Seu Jorge was his cover of Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” I think I said “oh my!” out loud, and clutched my imaginary pearls. To hear that velvety voice for the first time is jarring in the most gorgeous possible way. I’ve been a fan ever since, and I can’t imagine a better vibe for a summer afternoon or evening in So Cal than this:
Being the connoisseur of jangle pop that I am, OF COURSE I have to talk about how tremendously exciting it is to see the Bangles on this line-up. They are probably the most commercially successful band to have emerged from L.A.’s beloved Paisley Underground in the 1980s thanks to smash hits like “Manic Monday” and “Walk Like an Egyptian”, but the reason for that success lies within just how undeniably great they are. Here’s another of their hits, a ballad this time because it is the best song to sing in the shower. Also, ever since it was featured prominently on Gilmore Girls (as played live by the Bangles themselves) it’s made me tear up a little bit every time I hear it, and I am o.k. with knowing that about myself.
All photos courtesy of Goldenvoice