[For more exclusive images, see Colin Young-Wolff's slideshow “Eagle Rock Music Festival 2010”]
We're surely not the only LA native who wistfully recalled Sunset Junction Street Fairs of yore while stomping along Colorado Blvd. at the Eagle Rock Music Fest Saturday evening.
Like at the entrance, where we were asked to contribute $5 by a smiling lass holding a bucket and stickers, then at the Global stage where packs of giddy youths ollied, popped and spun about freely on skateboards to funky Dublab DJ-supplied beats, later near the Kingsize/Ship stages where a procession of vociferous punks and seasoned indie rockers sludged out for a cross-generational mass of shaking trunks and tresses (blissfully unaware of who was watching them do so) and inside all of the area's businesses, which were bustling with excitement and discovery.
Yes, Macy's was there handing out giftbags, but for the most part the corporate presence was minimal and the focus was where it should be: on the music and the different people that make up the fabric of the neighborhood.
Once upon a time Sunset Junction had this same kind of loose and organic feel. Trust us it did.
If one stage drew the crowds and chaos of something bigger than a low-key street party, it was The Low End Theory Stage where several diverse twentysomething crews consistently clustered about the stage to hear turntablists such as D Styles, Daddy Kev, Gaslamp Killer, DJ Nobody and Nosaij Thing spin fat hip-hop layered beats that were crowd-pleasing, yet rhythmically intense (no obvious bangers here). The Dublab Stage not too far away was mellower most of the day, but that changed when Egyptian Lover got “Super Freak”-y there later.
The Emerging Stage was the obvious hipster showcase with bands such as Darker My Love, Blank Blue and The Soft Pack playing to the mismatched set, while the Razorcake Stage just outside of the fest's borders offered psychobilly and punk bands, such as La Bestia and Nervous Gender, featuring Don Bolles on drums.
Our favorite hubs were both expected and unexpected. The Kingsize Stage felt like home with sounds ranging from messily melodious (Drink On Crutches) to distortion-heavy and hypnotic (Pay The Man, which was billed as featuring hardcore art legend Raymond Pettibon).
After an ale break at the Black Boar up the street, we missed part of Pay's set and we didn't see Ray, but we definitely dug the punky power trio's mid-tempo tempestuousness, especially when bassist Ronna wailed. The band, who apparently hadn't played in some time (back in the day, Green Day opened for them), even kept it together when the power blew.
Speaking of blowing, many acts exploded in the odder locales: the festive Bonne Musique Zydeco band, who played from the balcony of the Welcome Inn; the kid's bands who rocked out near the Church of Christ; the Joe Johnston Band swinging standards in front of Columbo's restaurant (and inspiring many a swaying hip-replacement) and most notably, the revvin' that took place inside Rantz autoshop, where the sloshy Latin-flavored folk rock of Ollin inspired the most jovial moshpit we've ever seen– twirling and whirling with little kids, old ladies, drunk metal heads and even a couple gangstas.
This mix is a beautiful thing, and even though Eagle Rock has become a “cooler” place to live (the trendy eateries alone seemed to have tripled since out last Colorado stroll), you get the feeling there's no danger of it changing too much, too soon.
This year's ERMF showed other hoods how it's done, offering an impressively varied music schedule, a modest collection of vendor booths (more food trucks might have been nice, though), and an overall chill vibe. The Eagle's out of the bag. Let's hope it doesn't jump the nest next year.
See more pics from ERMF here and in this week's Nightranger slideshow on Friday.