Sunset Strip, West Hollywood
Aug. 1-3, 2013
The Sunset Music festival sought to reverse sagging attendance this year, and the line-up got a shake-up. There was less emphasis on head-banging, with instead such artists as rap-rock arena rockers Linkin Park, a mix of hip-hop acts like Wale and Pharcyde alums Fatlip and Slimkid3, and indie faves Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
While the performances were all pretty stellar, the crowds didn't appear as large as years past. One reason might have been, ironically, the date change; the fest was moved up a couple weeks to avoid punishing mid-August heat, but that meant it coincided this year with the Hard music fest and X Games -- drawing denizens downtown -- as well as Lollapalooza in Chicago.
In any case, we personally dug the diversity of the 2013 bill. It was reflective of the Strip itself these days, which has expanded its musical offerings to include hip-hop, pop, and EDM, as well as swanky dance clubs and colorful restaurants. Hollywood and Silver Lake may get the scrappy, indier-than-thou set, but when a band is truly on the rise, it plays the Strip, where legendary rock icons were born.
The most exciting part of the weekend was Thursday night, when Joan Jett was awarded the Elmer Valentine award and paid tribute by everyone from Rodney Bingenheimer and Pat Smear -- who appeared live -- to Debbie Harry and Kim Fowley, who appeared via video. Jett performed as well, serving up a bombastic, hit-filled bash, which had the fans singing along.
See also: Joan Jett on Her Sunset Strip Glory Days
We couldn't help but think how awesome it would have been to have her headline on Saturday, on the main outdoor stage. Like past honorees Motley Crue and Slash -- who did exactly that in previous years -- Jett playing the closed-off boulevard would have killed. It also would have been meaningful, seeing as she once lived just off the strip and her band The Runaways were born and bred there.