Monday, June 20, 2011


Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino
Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino performs at Make Music Pasadena.
photo by picksysticks

by JPegg

Now, to the heart of the matter. It was Make Music Pasadena in Old Towne Pasadena. One Saturday, June 18, 2011. A day packed music heavy, like an all-you-can-listen buffet with multiple stages of flavor and heapingMake Music Pasadena 2011 varieties from which to select. In the span of eleven hours, ten female fronted bands were covered.La Sera's Katy Goodman

It was an hour past noon, when La Sera turned the streets loud as they were the first band to perform on Indie Rock Stage. This was the main stage that shut down traffic for a whole block on East Colorado Boulevard. Katy Goodman (Vivian Girls, All Saints Day) fronts this flower wilting, lullaby-sounding band. Her voice eases like a mother rocking her baby on a rowboat in the middle of a lake, being soft, caring and gentle, as she watches a spouting fountain in the hull of the boat, sinking the two slow, into the depths of darkness. A strange mood to begin in such a sunshine open afternoon.

Things continued to get bizarre when next, Ketchup Soup was found performing in the mural painted cubby alley of Majestical Roof. The area was like being swallowed into a canvas of red walls, oversized anatomy, twisted mind vines, with a pin-up calendar of accordion babes for sale and the hungering sounds of Mrs. Hobbs and Lovemando. Their character resembles a Tom Waits devil on guitar and a sinful Eve on a sighing accordion. Rucksack instruments, yet not needing more to lyrically story tell of whiskey devil folktales.

Ketchup Soup
Ketchup Soup
Mrs. Hobbs & Lovemando of Ketchup Soup performs at the Majestical Roof stage.
photo by picksysticks

In the shady breath of a tree, it was off to see Alison Standish start the music in Mercantile Alley. No art or nature beyond the humans and music here, only a coffee shop, patio furniture, and a parking garage for backstage, smog filled, ambiance. She sounds of an acoustic church choir soloist backed with a jingle of jazz. Right after her was live looping and toy piano performer Eliza Rickman. Her performance was as if she was a delicate orchid rooted in a crack in the alley as passerby peoples and unwanted noise pollution trampled her radiance. Street traffic and radio music flooding from an open back door bar made her moody dark whispers and instrumental tinkering delights feel like a lonely child lost in the big city.

Alison Standish
Alison Standish plays at the Mercantile Alley during Make Music Pasadena.
photo by picksysticks

Eliza Rickman
Eliza Rickman between songs during this year's Make Music Pasadena.
photo by picksysticks

That big city was crowding to see Best Coast at the roadblock Indie Rock Stage. Their performance started thirty minutes late because security could not handle keeping the fire lane (a path through the street) open and clear of clogging people. It wBethany Cosentino of Best Coastas an extra thirty-minute of the host telling the roadside to clear out, or no band. The annoyed waiting, cooked in the street. Eventually, the AM radio, surf rock sound of Bethany Consentino was able to ripple her oohs and ahs between those lyrics of helpless hopes and unsatisfied dreams, a releasing feeling of a brooding girl at the beach clothed in sweater thick black, thinking of going for a long swim out to sea.

The leather drying heat soon settled into a chilly evening breeze after her performance. It was then back in search for that Mercantile Alley one last time to see Portraits. This band disregarded what was happening around them and seemed to enjoy brawling loud among the bustle. They were so rugged that their raw brute emotion would hold up in a biker bar on the outskirts of the desert. Portraits have that sound of endurance that they been kicked to the alley and survived many times before.

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast
Best Coast performs at the Indie Rock Stage.
photographs by picksysticks

Night fell. The main stage was dead as One Colorado Emerging Artists Stage came alive in the evening. It was a tree centered, open courtyard area filled with foldout chairs, and surrounded with candle dinner restaurants and other gourmet priced eateries. But here a person can settle under the night with an alcoholic drink in hand. Here, Jenny O had the stuff to make children get up and dance. It was as though she was the pied piper, but with a good heart. The music sounds of a happy family car ride commercial coated with a sentimental holiday Christmas carol. There is a warmed hearted singing-in-the-rain pureness. A little in the gloom, but not going to let herself down attitude. The life lemons into lemonade hope. Fresh squeezed positive sunshine if given a chance.

Jenny O
Jenny O
Jenny O at the Emerging Artists stage during Make Music Pasadena 2011.
photograph by picksysticks

At the Lineage Performing Arts Center, Michelle Bloom on acoustic guitar alongside a fellow cellist performed in the dance studio filled with a seated calm listening group. This was a break from the outside traffic. In this cozy intimate place, Bloom settled and soothed the emotions like a long day’s hike that destinaMichelle Bloomtion ended here in a refreshingly cozy cave with a hidden waterfall spring. The sliding bow across the cello was a therapeutic muscle relaxer in itself. A mellowing performance, like the day of sunburns was now being soothed with pine meadow fragrant lotion. A momentary ease to recuperate with a hot slow sip coffee.

The final two performances seen for the evening had an angelical haunting to them. First, it was back to the Emerging Artists Stage to witness Zola Jesus. Spiritual Goth. Robed in white yet wrapped and shredded like a mummy. A risen mummy with a white cloak and a melting halo. Is she here to save us or lead listeners into temptation? Her feather soft ghostly voice was somewhat of a restless enchantment, like a feeling of a soul living forever, but arrested in the sounds and confines of a rusted and forgotten industrial factory. The caged angel with clipped wings.

Zola JesusZola Jesus
Zola Jesus performs at the Emerging Artists Stage during 2011's Make Music Pasadena.
photos by Picksysticks

Ending the evening that near took it to midnight was the performance by Robotanists. They sound like Radiohead replaced with a female lead singer. The instrumental to their song “Wait a Minute Here” feels reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Rechoner”. It is not as layered, but the somber release of emotion is almost the same, but with a bit more pop. Lead singer, Sarah Ellquist DeBlanke, was also an angelical blonde in white this night. It was like watching two sister angels one after the other release their tender tear voices onto the world. But after the angels played loud like trumpets, the end came.

Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot rocks in front of 20,000 at Make Music Pasadena.
photo by Picksysticks