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No Age, The Audacity, So Many Wizards, GRMLN, Monster Rally
Loyola Marymount University
Sunday was the first annual KXLU Fest, held at the station's home base, Loyola Marymount University. Since 1957 the station – located at 88.9 FM – has brought independent radio to Los Angeles; praised by Perry Farrell (“where all the good music was”) featured in TV and film, and constantly winning polls of the best local radio stations, it's developed a strong following. For these reasons, it's quite odd it took this long for the inaugural KXLU Fest to happen.
All ages and free – even the parking – it was truly a Los Angeles miracle, and held in Lawton Plaza, a small field bordered by palm trees, the library, and a glorious view overlooking West L.A. Vendor booths dotted the field, including pop-up shops from Lolipop Records and Burger Records, which were selling cassette tapes and giving away stickers. There were sunglasses for sale, ethically conscious clothing, and a decorated tent selling vintage clothing and jewelry, and offering henna tattoos painted by girls with blue hair and lots of facial piercings. In the next booth there was a button making station and free silk screening from Snack Time Records that was B.Y.O.S (Bring Your Own Shirt). There was a grilled cheese truck, and a truck with organic vegan tacos, cilantro limeade, and kale chips.
Just when it seemed like things couldn't get more L.A., the music started.
Monster Rally kicked things off with psychedelic samples that crackled and popped like vintage vinyl. With the cool breeze rustling the palm trees and the sunshine beaming overhead, Monster Rally's hip-hop/ tropicalia vibes felt like cruising in a low-rider by the beach.
Next, GRMLN picked up the pace with a beachy pop-punk sound that fell somewhere in between Surfer Blood and Blink-182. With an oversized Black Flag shirt and some twangy strumming on his electric guitar, frontman Yoodoo Park fit the SoCal skater punk image.
So Many Wizards cast a dreamy psych-pop spell; the vocals were alternately dainty and soaring, and jangling bells and symbols complimented upbeat (sometimes disco-like) drum rhythms and plucky guitar that was nostalgic of '60s surf rock. Unique barely scratches the surface of the sound of a band that found its beginnings performing in front of stacked television sets; it was a combination of sounds that one might not expect to make sense, but magically did.
There was nothing mystical about The Audacity, though. They were just fun rock and roll. Teenagers attempting to hide the beers they snuck in fled the scene, while those who were there to dance poured in. “I never thought I'd see a mosh pit at LMU,” said Anna Soffer, Music Director at KXLU. Sometimes dreams do come true.
Finally, No Age took the stage. Like all of the bands featured at KXLU Fest, the group has found a home at the station, and it felt like the bands were giving back to finally make this festival finally happen. It felt less like a festival and more like a musical family gathering.