Echo Park Rising 2019 came and went over the weekend. Another year of the city’s best up-and-coming bands playing in pretty much every open space in Echo Park, and we’ve got some highlights of the festival for you.
THINGS THAT RULED
Bands in a Barbershop at American Barbershop
Brian O’Connor from the 6660’s has been running the Bands In A Barbershop concert series for a while now and 2 nights were planned for Echo Park Rising at the American Barbershop on Sunset Blvd. near Echo Park Park Ave. Bands there leaned a little more aggressive and/or dark than the rest of EPR, with screamy singers, riffy guitars, and mosh pits aplenty.
Standout included moody and haunting sets from Bone Acre and Iress, fiery and explosive sets from crazy-fun Beers for Fears and crazy-young Speed of Light, and an unbelievably deep and powerful set from Spare Parts for Broken Hearts with the largest mosh pit of the weekend resulting in photographers, and O’Connor, ending up on stage to escape the carnage. For Saturday and Sunday the American Barbershop was transformed into a ravey dance club and it looked pretty fun, but not as much as Bands in a Barbershop.
Great Venues Old and New
From the traditional Echo and Echoplex and Taix, to Little Joy, to Sunday’s Best Thrift Apparel to Spacedust to Pharos Athletic Club and a million other sites around Echo Park so many places opened their doors for bands to play it was great to see. With the loss of The Lost Knight and Lot 1 Café (R.I.P. delicious French fries) you had to wonder where they were going to put everything, but with a ton of smaller businesses in the area hosting events it all came together quite well.
Some venues were on the small side and filled up fast making it hard to see, but you could hear just fine so it all worked out. The indoor music room at Sticky Rice was one that jammed up real quick all weekend, with lines of people running through the still-open restaurant and everyone making the best of a crowded situation. Sticky Rice also had an outdoor stage area with tables and stools and food in their parking lot and it was one of the best spots throughout the weekend, seeing blistering sets from the likes of Clit Kat and Swearxxxwrds. The best news was that if a show you wanted to see was too full you could walk 20-30 feet in any direction and find a different set that might be even more entertaining. Especially at the Echo where one could wander from upstairs to downstairs to the patio and enjoy an endless parade of acts with ease. Props to the Grand Ole Echo for a traditionally strong lineup on the patio!
Echo Park Lake Stage
Finally. Music next to the lake. Why isn’t this a thing more often? Such a beautiful location for this stage, which had a more family-oriented line up featuring The Bob Baker Marionette Theater, a magic show, and kid band Kid Row. It was a little off the main drag for EPR but worth a visit.
This year’s Echo Park Rising seemed very well attended. Big crowds could be found throughout the weekend at the main Liberty stage, at The Echo, and, especially, jammed into Little Joy. That venue had a bunch of the hot acts for the weekend and it was a crush of bodies in there, especially Saturday night for Kevin followed by the Hooveriii Drum Machine Show. All weekend the sidewalks were filled with people and the corners of Sunset and Lemoyne became popular hang out spots for friends to find each other or run into old acquaintances or consult the EPR app to figure out where to go next. Saturday night non official shows started popping up around the area including a show by a band called Kicks Rebellion in the parking lot of Royal Market liquor store where the crowd quickly grew to 200 or so. And a brass band played in the next parking lot up the hill at the same time to a similar sized crowd. So much fun.
It’s Turning Into the Best Parts of SXSW
A zillion venues hosting 5 zillion bands all within a walkable distance with a slew of fresh new acts, veteran bands still killing it, and a lack of overbearing corporate commercialization… the parallels to the live music part of earlier days SXSW are unmistakable. I’ll take the run-to-a-bunch-of-small-venues festival over an everyone-stand-in-a-field festival any day. It’s a formula that works in many cities and really Echo Park Rising is the only one doing it in LA. You can go with a plan and run around to all the different places to see your favourites, or you can go with no plan and just roam from place to place and hear whatever is around. The Echo turns into a mini version of this all on its own with the three venues in one. And now that BBQ at Baby Blues is in the mix all we need is a LOT of Shiner.
ONE THING THAT SUCKED
Major FOMO. Too many bands? Is that possible? 2019’s edition of Echo Park Rising certainly felt like the biggest yet and if one ended up with a home base of The Echo or Taix or The Short Stop there was a lot to miss elsewhere. Even with the most detailed schedule and the dedication to run from venue to venue there’s still the possibility of a lot of missing out even though you’re at the festival. There isn’t really a solution to that and, let’s admit, it’s a good problem to have. Is that a cop out for “Something that Sucked”? Okay for real parking sucked, but taking Metro or Uber solves that. If only that church parking structure was open for the general public.
Words and photos by Tim Aarons