Los Feliz Village Street Fair's Fashionably Funky (and Free) Fest, 7/24/11

A "feliz" fest.

Lina LecaroA "feliz" fest.

The period from now until Labor Day will be fest-full to say the least. Sunset Strip Music Fest, Sunset Junction Street Fair and FYF Fest will see hordes moving through the streets of LA, angling for a view of their favorite bands, gnawing on greasy grub from the food truck/restaurant of the moment, all the while toting dogs, kids or cute umbrellas and showing off the latest in fashionably-hip eye, head and foot wear.

The Los Feliz Village Street Fair, which took over the stretch of Hollywood Blvd. between Hillhurst and Vermont Avenues on Sunday, had all of this and more. Though it took a two-year hiatus, the annual community gathering came back full force with two music stages, a fashion show, artsy vendors and an impressive food section.

Even more so than the Silver Lake Jubilee a couple months ago, Sunday's event brought to mind the good ol' days of the Junction -- when it was free for all and DIY street performers attracted crowds as big as those around the stages.

Street meet.

Lina LecaroStreet meet.

Of course, the bands at Los Feliz didn't rival those on the upcoming bills of SSMF, FYF or SJ, but what the event lacked in big name acts it made up for in communal spirit and creativity. A "Green Scene" section featured eco-friendly wares, causes and services, and a family zone offered some of the biggest bounce houses we've ever seen amidst a carnival setting. Cirque Schoool LA and Troupe Vertigo circus performers had a consistent cluster of crowds all day, while a runway presentation (and surrounding trunk show displays) gave indie designers the spotlight mid-afternoon. Samba dancers later that evening were a big hit too.

Shake your tail feathers.

Lina LecaroShake your tail feathers.

The organizers get kudos for how the event was set up: beer gardens were directly across from the stages, allowing for comfortable drinking while watching the acts. Not sure who booked the bands -- as there was a strange array of styles (country, grunge, pop, blues) -- but there were many standouts. They included the jams of The Soul of John Black on the smaller stage near Cheetah's bikini bar, and, on the big stage near Vermont, the reggae-infused rock of Raheem Cohen. Cohen are a group of local Silver Lake kids whom we happen to be very familiar with. The parents of the majority of the band members (specifically brothers Alix, Miles & Reece Melendrez) own the groovy furniture store The Living Room on Sunset Blvd, and the guys have played the parking lot of the store/showroom often over the years. (We know this because we live nearby).

Raheem rocks.

Lina LecaroRaheem rocks.

The Melendrez parties have always attracted decent crowds, but seeing them up on stage, with hundreds of young fans gyrating below, it was clear they've grown beyond a kiddie garage band into something more serious. These guys have been honing their sound in the streets (so to speak), and they've clearly earned a loyal and well-deserved following. They were the perfect band to play the best slot during this fair, repping whom the organizers hope will be the new generation of outdoor eventgoers, Sunset Junction should book these guys, but if they don't, we're guessing you'll be able to catch 'em in their usual parking lot spot that weekend. Which might be better anyway.

More pictures from the festival in our Nightranger slideshow.