Echo Park opens up for one long weekend every year. Bars, restaurants, clothing stores, parking lots, and more traditional venues all put on concerts Thursday through Sunday, and it’s all free. What’s more, they keep the acts local. It’s Echo Park Rising, and I love it.
There’s a certain pleasure in walking through a neighborhood with no specific aim, poking your head in wherever seems interesting, stopping for a bite to eat here or a drink there. And of course there’s a certain pleasure in attending a concert. It’s rare to get the chance to combine the two things, but Echo Park makes a point to do it every year.
This year I went on Friday night. I started at Nico and Bullitt, a 60’s-themed throwback shop. They sell clothes, postcards, toys, candles, incense, tchotchkes, etc. I find the whole thing a bit strange (is 60’s nostalgia still potent enough to support a storefront on Sunset?), but I appreciate that they’re dedicated enough to the bit that all of there music was neo-psychedelia and 60’s throwback acts. I caught a touch of Electric Looking Glass, who were a pleasant Kinks-style band with a Hammond organ, which was fine.
Then I moved on and caught a couple of songs by Lily Waters in Spacedust, an “indie outlet” that sells clothing, postcards, art, tchotchkes, etc., before moving on to the outdoor beer garden area next to the main outdoor stage. I ran into a guy who said he used to manage the Dead Kennedys and was gathering signatures for a rent control measure now, which checks out. The Red Pears were playing, who I hadn’t heard of before, but they had people singing along to one of their songs. Looking into it further, the song has 1.1 million streams on Spotify, so there you have it. It sounded better live, too.
I spent most of my night in a barbershop though. As opposed to the other places, this one actually puts on shows somewhat regularly; it wasn’t my first time seeing something there. What’s more, I’d previously seen every act playing that night while I was there, which is part of why I ended up there. I only caught the last song or so from Speed of Light, but they’re a super-talented band of, like, 14 year-olds that I was happy to see again. Here’s a video of them playing in American Barbershop the first time I saw them, shot by someone who subscribes to this newsletter (shout out to Adrian):
You can’t easily discern that it’s a barbershop in the video, but take note of the mirrors on the walls, that’s the tell.
After that, Spare Parts for Broken Hearts played, killing it as always, followed by Iress. Their lead singer/guitarist unfortunately broke her arm in a scooter accident so she just sang, with guitar duties taken over by Sarah from illuminati hotties. I knew that LA is a small world, but I didn’t realize it’s that small. I feel like a bit of a goon because when I went over to say hey to the Iress folks I think my eyes visibly widened as I put together where I recognized this person Sarah I was being introduced to and asked “Are you in illuminati hotties?” but really she’s the only permanent band member so that’s not how you would phrase that if you knew what you were talking about, I’m cool, I know these things, knowing things about people you’ve never met makes you cool and not a weirdo
Anyways Iress has new music coming out soon and Sarah produced it, that’s exciting news.
The last band I stuck around for was Fucked Forever. The last time I saw them was in a small DIY space with probably about 20-30 people around. Oh look here’s a video of them in that same space 3 weeks before that show:
You can imagine the vibe was very different from a packed barbershop in Echo Park with people randomly stopping in out of curiousity. The thing is, Fucked Forever is a powerviolence band. I’ll admit to having to be in a particular mood to take in some powerviolence, but I am sometimes in that mood, and I knew what I was getting into. I was curious to see how the people coming and going reacted. Honestly they seemed more willing to hear it out than I expected. I think you have to have at least a little respect for people putting themselves out there in such an extreme way, and that keeps people around that might not respond on a purely musical level.
The only thing that would make EPR better is if they shut down at least a couple lanes of Sunset to cars, at least on the weekend, because the sidewalks overflow and the huge number of empty Ubers and Lyfts circling through is not pleasant. This same weekend I attended the Ciclavia from Hollywood to West Hollywood along with many, many others, and people love it when they’re free to navigate about without worrying about cars. Ciclavia only had one stage though, so there’s a clear winner on that front. (I do try to keep my mobility bullshit separate from my music bullshit here, but I had to say something.) EPR is one of the true highlights of living where I do, and I wish that every community would do something similar.
P.S. Here’s a birthday shoutout to Andrew, who actually liked when I played “Say You Love Me Too” by Jonathan Bree after being entrusted with a Bluetooth speaker.
While I’m at it, birthday shoutouts to Maria and Stephanie. I do not plan on making this a regular feature because I’m already stressed out that I’m forgetting somebody’s birthday ha