Over the Weekend: Fishbone, Sam Sparro, I&I Soundsystem and Infinity at Sunset Junction Street Fair

High at Sunset Junction
High at Sunset Junction
Lina Lecaro

The photo above was taken from atop (and we mean the very top) of the ferris wheel at this year's Sunset Junction Street Fair. We have lots just like it because the giant wheel got stuck --yes stuck!-- as soon as we got on.

"A tangled cable or something," is what the gal in the basket in front of us said (see her looking down to figure out what's going on). It was probably only about 10-15 minutes that we were up there, high in the sky, the sun beating down on our heads as thousands milled about blissfully unaware below. Yes the view was gorgeous, but thanks to several terrifying shakes that rattled and rocked the baskets as they tried to fix the thing, it felt like forever.

Of course it didn't help that we started to remember the ride operator's dazed face up there or that we had our 3-year-old daughter and a nervous-to-begin-with friend on with us. "Why did we get on this thing?" we said to ourselves as visions of firemen on ladders and TV crews filming a dramatic rescue started to enter our mind.

Well, they eventually got the thing working again and we're obviously fine and not too traumatized to write about the incident, but to those of you who have doubts about creaky carny rides, we say, go with your gut. You're not crazy. The things are old, the workers are creepy/possibly cracky, and though the contraptions are surely checked out for safety, you just never know. We shall never ride a ferris wheel, at least at the local fair, again.

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After this somewhat harrowing experience on Saturday, we were looking to get some ya-yas out on the ground, that's for sure and if there was ever a band to celebrate life with, it's Fishbone.

The seminal LA ska-punk-party band led by Angelo Moore and Norwood Fisher has been bouncing about Los Angeles for too long to remember, but its performances are always --always!-- unforgettable.

Moore is still a big kid, with vocals as potent and bubbly as ever, mad sax skills and that wiry rubberband nimble body (he crowd-surfed the Junction, just as we expected him to do). The band brought it with the spazzy, jazzy jams and hammy thrash that in many ways, it invented.

Kinda strange then, that the guys covered a band whom they obviously influenced: Sublime, with a fun take on "Date Rape" (see clip). They pulled it off, and with everything from huge "Iron Man" riffs into their classic drunk rocker, "Alcoholic," to essential nuggets ("Ma & Pa"), Fishbone --who shockingly never played SJ before--- provided the centerpiece performance of the fest this year, even showing up Bad Brains.

Sunday's standout set, for us anyway, had to be Sam Sparro's neon-lit soul grind on The Fold Stage. Sexed up by some diva-voiced backup singers in bright green wigs, groovy backlighting and atmospheric keyboard synths, Sparro's turn was a seductive spectacle that kept our attention even amid the usual fair distractions--shrieking kids, drunk half-naked dudes, and DJ beats throbbing in the distance.

A (black and) gold-en set from Sam Sparro.
A (black and) gold-en set from Sam Sparro.
Lina Lecaro

Speaking of distractions, the crowd (both days, both nights) was for the most part, the usual sea of tats, floppy hats, Raybans and Summer frocks. Hardly any queens or look-at-me freaks this year (bummer!) but still, some cute style to admire. See our slideshow this week for the best.

Other highlights over the weekend:

 

the Miles Davis Bitches Brew-haha with J Rocc (which made for nice background in the nearby VIP area, even though the sectioned off hangout was the most boring thing at the whole event), the irie vibes created by our friends from the I&I Sound System (local reggae ice cream truckers Shakespeare and Aurelito, who helped book the rhythmic acts at the Sanborn stage again this year), the scene at the Electro stage on Sunday (the DJs were better but even if they hadn't been, fest-ers always let loose more the second day), the party-within-the-party on El Cid's ever-pumping patio, Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang's kiddie rock day starter Sunday morning and the lesbian love-in that was Infinity (Journey tribute) on the same stage, closing out the night.

Needless to say, "Wheel in the Sky" took on new meaning for us after Saturday's ride fiasco.

Two girls, one love in front of the I&I Soundsystem.
Two girls, one love in front of the I&I Soundsystem.
Lina Lecaro

This year's Sunset Junction may not have been the best line-up wise, and their were definitely some unsavory elements (we're even talking about the towers of grease sold at the food booths). The promotional onslaught (McDonalds, 7 Eleven and Subaru show tents), enforcement of the cover charge even for those living in nearby neighborhoods, and lack of really good stuff to buy left some with a less than enthused perspective on the event, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.

Not us. We have to chuckle at haters who think they have a right to judge because they've lived in S'Lake and surrounding parts for a few years. We're going to sound Silver Lake-ier than thou here, but we grew up in the area, went to Marshall High School, learned to drive around the reservoir, scored our first job and had our first sloshed makeout session at the Sunset Junction Street Fair, ok? We've pretty much done it all in this endlessly hyped/more recently maligned little neighborhood. We always have a good time at the street fair because we go with the intention to do so. Of course, it aint what it was 30 years ago, but what is?


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