Best and Worst of Echo Park Rising 2018

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The eighth annual Echo Park Rising brought together thousands of music heads to barhop among a seemingly endless variety of local talent. Ranging from established veterans to promising newcomers and projects so fresh and low key that they have zero social media accounts, Echo Park Rising once again delivered something for even the most discerning of tastes. And best of all, it was all free.

Check out our gallery and recap of the best and worst of the festival below.

Zig Zags

BEST: Local heroes tear shit up

As a hotbed for indie punk and garage, it was only natural that many of the weekend’s best sets came from the lineup’s hardest hitters. For example, before Zig Zags rocked the Echoplex on Saturday evening with their blistering Sabbath-meets-Flag sound and swagger, The Paranoyds proved why they’re one of the best live acts around today. As the dong gaze quartet unleashed their eerie surf garage mayhem, the crowd responded by abandoning all troubles and pretense and jumping and moshing along. Even guitarist-bassist-vocalist Lexi Funston’s basketball league trophy went for a crowd surf, as it was supported by faces so enthusiastic, you’d think they had actually won it.

Fresh off a standout set at Beach Goth, Starcrawler unleashed hell as the closed the Echoplex on Saturday night. Usually at Echo Park Rising, people disperse to get beer, weed, nicotine or to another set, but everyone squished to the front of the stage for the entirety of their setup time, including multiple children and their bewildered parents. Their efforts were were well rewarded, as Starcrawler stormed through a crash course in everything we ever loved about shock rock and metal. Frontwoman Arrow de Wilde took no prisoners as she slayed the masses with her disconcerting mix of writhing, fake blood-spewing contortions and ghoulish grins. Days later, my torso still sports the bruises from the frenzied throng of moshers and topless crowd surfers.

WORST: The heat

After getting fried by the sun marching from the Liberty Stage to the other end of the neighborhood to check out the action at Sunday’s Best and Little Joy and back, I had to hide from the heat and recharge for a while. Thankfully, free bottles of Mountain Valley Spring Water were readily available at the Liberty and Echoplex stages, in both flat and carbonated varieties. Now this is the best kind of sponsorship.

Theresa Wayman (TT)

BEST: TT gets otherworldly

Friday night headliner TT conjured some potent vibes at the Liberty Stage as fog and feels engulfed the crowd like a comforting blanket.  Just as in Warpaint, Theresa Wayman proved masterful in channeling mood and emotion while bringing the trippy magic of her solo record LoveLaws to life. As our bodies couldn’t help but groove along and the smell of cannabis permeated the air, all the woes of the world seemed to melt away for a “So Sweet” 45 minutes.

The Paranoyds

WORST: FOMO

Festivals tend to demand tough decisions, and Echo Park Rising was no exception. Catch the return of Giant Drag or ‘Noyd rage to a secret set by The Paranoyds in Spacedust, a clothing store that can barely fit 20 people? But such options are a testament to the strength of the lineup, really. In addition to scheduling conflicts, later evening sets often required arriving a set or so early. A massive queue at the Echoplex made getting into Twin Temple an impossibility for many, and other late night sets proved similarly out of reach.

And really, did Echo Park Rising, All My Friends and Viva Pomona (plus a free Smash Mouth concert at Pershing Square) all have to take place at the same time?

The Bank of America

BEST: Discovery

As fun as it is to see one’s local favorites rocking out, the true spirit of Echo Park Rising lies with discovering new ones. Whether by word-of-mouth or entirely by chance, stumbling upon a previously unheard gem is an inevitability every year. This year, a visit to Little Joy to kick it with a friend led to my back-to-back impossible-to-Google discoveries of noisesters Daisy and the crushing drone of The Bank of America.

On a related note, witnessing Giant Drag live again made me remember how much I love Hearts and Unicorns, as well as Annie Hardy’s new jams and caustic wit.

WORST: It’s already over.

Wait, I have to wait another year to do this again?

Words and photos by Frank Mojica
Top photo of Starcrawler