[Update: For today only (Friday, Oct. 17), Culture Collide is offering 2-day wristbands for only $10, while supplies last. Visit the ticket booth at Taix to score your tix.]
Now in its fifth year, Culture Collide continues to be a kind of international Echo Park Rising. It's still accessible at $30 dollars for a three-day pass, and like Echo Park Rising, the festival takes over Sunset Boulevard with enough music, craft beer and munchies to cause a riot.
But Culture Collide also offers a unique element of discovery that's now missing from major music industry gatherings like SXSW. This year alone, you'll be wigging out over avante-garde EDM from Israel and Korean rock 'n' roll that doesn't sound like homogenized, plasticky K-Pop — minds blown, right?
In all, over 60 bands from around the world will invade Echo Park for three days, October 16-18. Which means there's a lot to see when you're not getting blitzed in the beer garden — or trying to figure out what an Aussie BBQ is without missing the next set. But that won't happen, because you'll just take this list with you. Here are the five acts you simply cannot miss at this year's Culture Collide.
5. PINS (U.K.)
The Guardian once described Manchester's PINS as “the most Brooklyn band ever to come from Manchester.” Of course, that was before fuzzed-out Echo Park bands like Death Valley Girls and L.A. Witch, who sound like a psychedelic version of PINS, began to make waves on the garage scene. But being from Manchester, PINS apply a layer of grit over their scuzzy, bass-driven sound that's less stoner-trippy and more working class. Accented with ghostly girl-group chants, gothic surf, and influences like early Dum Dum Girls, PINS are the most L.A. thing to come from Manchester since, like, Morrissey. On the Swing House/Ernie Ball World Stage, Saturday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m.
4. The Kokoro (Israel)
“Tel Aviv is an amazing city,” said Lee Triffon, audio-visual artist behind The Kokoro, “It's a perfect mixture of culture and hype.” Out of all the hype and energy of her hometown, which sounds a lot like L.A., Triffon (formerly a rock singer), decided to collaborate with co-producer Joni Zicholtz and renowned Israeli designer Yosef to create The Kokoro — an electronic project that combines elements of trap with melodic vocals, Japanese folk visuals, and fat bass. This will also be The Kokoro's first visit to Hollywood, so who knows: Triffon might turn up the volume (and Kabuki) during her speaker-melting set. At Taix, Thursday, Oct. 16 at 11:30 p.m., and Lot 1 Cafe, Friday, Oct. 17 at 11 p.m.
3. Rock 'N' Roll Radio (Korea)
Coming off a killer performance at SXSW, Rock 'N' Roll Radio has been making some serious noise on the Korean indie scene. Every song in the quartet's debut Shut Up and Dance drips with glossy productions and bouncy disco rhythms. Which results in their sound zapping you like a K-Pop version of the Strokes doing Britpop covers — on speed. But when you hear their laser-funk guitars and epic choruses, you realize Rock 'N' Roll Radio is light years ahead of what most Americans associate with K-Pop. In other words, they're the band we should be talking about. At the Champagne Room, Thursday, Oct. 16 and Saturday, Oct. 18, at 11 p.m. both nights.
2. Haunted Summer (USA)
Husband-and-wife duo Bridgette Eliza Moody and John Seasons formed Haunted Summer as an Animal Collective cover band in 2012. Soon they realized they had stumbled upon their own mystical brew of trippy forest-pop, mediated over spooky childhood memories and shared influences. It's as if they took disturbing German children's books, Kid A and the Beach Boys and made it sound like a daytime nap at Amir's Garden in Griffith Park. It's what they ultimately describe as “spreading darkness through light,” which is basically L.A., in digital synth-form. At Echo Park United Methodist Church, Thursday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m.
1. Cloud Nothings (USA)
Dylan Baldi is a 22-year-old Midwestern guitar geek, bespectacled with shaggy hair, like an unkempt Pinkerton-era Rivers Cuomo. No surprise he founded Cloud Nothings in his parents' basement in 2009. His early recordings initially channeled freshman angst through a whirlwind of deliciously catchy '90s pop-punk — like Jimmy Eat World or The Promise Ring — the stuff you'd listen to in college with your soon-to-be ex.
But then Baldi began to experiment with three-minute guitar solos on tracks like “Wasted Days,” followed by primal vocal tantrums where he screams, “I thought I'd be more than this.” While evolving constantly through diverse influences, from The Wipers to Top 40, Cloud Nothings are still dripping with nostalgia and loneliness — before all the heartbreak and struggles become shit you're too old to care about. For now, they're at the height of their pop-punk powers. On the Swing House/Ernie Ball World Stage, Friday, Oct. 17 at 9 p.m.
Culture Collide takes place on October 16, 17, and 18 in Echo Park at participating venues that include The Echo/Echoplex, Taix, and The Echo Park United Methodist Church. Tickets can be purchased here.