View more photos in Timothy Norris' “Sunset Strip Music Festival” slideshow.
God bless the Sunset Strip. Hipsters can pooh-pooh it all they want as they ride their purple-tired fixed-gear bikes through Silver Lake, but for a sheer what-the-fuh!? parade of humanity, nothing beats the Sunset Strip.
Steeped in a rock & roll Truth (currently ignored by whiny Conversed indie kids) that your Inner Rockness (the spirit) is directly proportional to your Outer Rockness (your tight leather pants, dangling earrings and impossible hairdo), The Strip will always fly the proverbial freak flag. On Saturday, the city of West Hollywood shut down Sunset from Doheny to San Vicente, the Sunset Strip Business Association threw a big-ass party, and a wild flock of Los Angeles characters showed up to rock in the streets.
West Coast Sound correspondent Lizzie Azran, a senior at Calabasas High, noticed that the SSMF eyewear choices were uniquely Sunset Strip-ian: “L.A. is infested with Ray Bans at every intersection. But at the Sunset Strip, my Ray Bans and I were undoubtedly the minority. Between the metalheads, bros, punks, Goths and the occasional indies, the clashing styles were a little overwhelming.”
Unlike the two other late summer L.A. rock festivals of note, Sunset Junction and the FYF Fest, both of which cater their rock offerings to the indie and hipster crowd, the Strip music festival offered more hard rock, rap rock and heavy rock — as well as a dose of hip hop, emo and pop rock. In other words, the Silver Lake contingency was greatly outnumbered by the dudes who used to beat them up in high school.
But then, what did you expect with a line-up that featured Ozzy Osbourne, Korn, Pepper, Kottonmouth Kings, Shiny Toy Guns, LMFAO, Shwayze and a host of wannabe or soon-to-be rap rockers?
Another thing Lizzie Azran noticed was (surprise surprise) … lots of weed, which she first caught wind of while two bands were playing on opposite sides of the fest: “The only thing these two crowds had in common is their passion for marijuana,” reports Azran. “Amid Pepper's and Kottonmouth Kings' countless weed references, the crowd emitted clouds of smoke. One guy was wearing a white button-up touristy shirt studded with pictures of little marijuana leaves. The back of another guy's shirt said 'UPS: United Pot Smokers'.” (We saw a dude with a shirt that said, “F*ck Milk, Got Weed?” The jockstrapped Kottonmouther had spraypainted “Why isn't pot legal yet?” on the back of his jacket. A pack of guys were walking around in identical “Cocaine, Inc.” T-shirts. The one we didn't see but halfway expected? “Roofies All Night Long.”)
Inside the Roxy, Pricks lead singer/screamer Brophy was the fisherman in the hurricane, trying to save his rap-rock minions from the life of drugs in the song, “Wake Up,” which was about how he used to crawl out of bed in the morning and get high. He screamed at the crowd to stay away from drugs. He should have been singing this song outside.
The SSMF went all out this year. They got the permission, apparently for the first time ever, to shut down Sunset for the party. They launched a huge, multifaceted marketing campaign, tried to get the word out that this was to be a different kind of festival than LA has seen of late. And, to a degree, it was. In addition to the two stages at opposite ends of the Strip, the clubs along the blocks, including the Key Club, the Roxy, the Cat Club, the Whisky A-Go-Go and the Viper Room, hosted bands throughout the day, which made it feel a little like a mini SXSW. The people jumped from club to stage and back all day; it was a good chance to see bands you might have missed elsewhere. Or to just wander around on Sunset screaming about Ozzy Osbourne.
That's what Lizzie saw. “While lingering between Korn and Ozzy sets,” she writes, “I noticed two men and a woman enter the festival skipping and chanting “OZ-ZY, OZ-ZY”. The two men were sweaty, and had painted black circles around their eyes. One had waist-length, stringy hair, the other was bald, and the woman carried a purse that looked like a leather lunchbox. They eventually got a group of people to chant with them: “OZ-ZY, OZ-ZY!”. When that died down, they moved into the darkness.”
(Additional reporting by Lizzie Azran)