Tuesday, October 11, 2011

FILTER'S CULTURE COLLIDE: DAY 1 & DAY 2

Filter Magazine's Culture Collide
Filter Magazine's Culture Collide 2011 held at Taix

CULTURE COLLIDE - DAY 1

Cultures collided, literally on a three-block stretch on Sunset Boulevard when Echo Park hosted the second annual Filter Magazine's Culture Collide Festival, bringing together 85 bands representing 24 countries. From Brazil's CSS, Denmark's Asteroids Galaxy Tour to Mexico's Ximena Sarinana and USA's Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, Culture Collide, once again, has introduced Los Angelinos to brand new crop of up and coming artists from around the world.

Kassette
Kassette performs at the Chateau at Taix.
photos by picksysticks


Not familiar with most of the artists on the line-up, I went into this festival blind but excited to discover new bands. A musical marathon spanning four days and 85 bands spread out to seven venues. The Twonky Chateau at the Taix was festival central, its bar lounge serving drink specials and hosting cultural music nights highlighting that country's representing artists and also their beers. Thursday's offering was the Swiss and Canadian Happy Hour with special guest Kassette from Switzerland who played over dark, tranquil melodies. Kassette, aka: Laure Betris also played a second set later that night. It turns out, with packed rooms nightly, Taix was the place to perform during the festival as it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to catch musicians hanging out and having a drink after their set or talking to fans out in the hallway.

Los Hollywood
Los Hollywood performs at The Co-Op.
photo by picksysticks


Across the street, stretched along two blocks of Sunset Blvd were three venues, The Echo, The Swinghouse at Co-op, 826 LA and Origami Vinyl. The Co-Op, a fashion boutique by day was transformed into a rock club this night, hosting a Latin flavor with Los Angeles locals Los Hollywood, fronted by Heidy aka: Ide Flores, kicking off the night with their alt-rock sound mixed in with some spang-lish flavor. Revving guitars command this group but it's Heidy's free-floating melodies that holds your attention. They were creating buzz in the Latin rock community long before they released their first EP in 2009 after wining they Myspace Sponsor Your Band competition. Just listen to their first single off that album, "No Te Aguites" and you'll see why.

Up next was Mexico's Ximena Sarinana who's been receiving critical praise from her self-titled second album which marks her first album with English lyrics. She just announced her first headlining US tour this fall, starting in November. A recent full page feature in The New York Times praised her new album. A Grammy nominee, Ximena is well known in Mexico as an actress. Musically, her playful synths and catchy tunes inject flavors of her homeland like in her first single "Different" which she co-wrote with Rancid's Tim Armstrong.

Ximena Sariñana
Ximena Sariñana performs at The Co-Op.
photo by picksysticks


We first noticed her when she performed at the Silverlake Jubilee earlier this year, right about the time her new album was released. It was obvious, the crowd was there to see Ximena with the Co-op, so full, it was told to me that it had to be shut down for the rest of the festival due to safety reasons. The remaining acts scheduled to perform at this venue were moved to the Champagne Room at Taix. And this is still the first night . In a hint of what was to come during this four-day music fest, earlier in the week, Filter Magazine organizers announced the event was sold out.

Ximena Sariñana
Crowds packed The Co-Op to watch Ximena Sariñana perform during day one of Culture Collide.
photo by picksysticks


After Sarinana ended her set at around 10pm, I had about an hour to kill before Rainbow Arabia at the Echo, which luckily was seven store-fronts down. With a flourishing music scene happening in Melbourne and Sydney, with such acts as Temper Trap and Little Red, I headed over to the Echo to catch Guineafowl, Australia's latest offering. Named as one of Rolling Stone's artists to watch in 2011, Guineafowl, delivers trance pop-alternative danceable tunes that are hypnotic and spacey. Currently they're offering their single, "Botonist" as a free download on their Facebook page. They also employ synth-angel Imi Harper on backing vocals, Lachlan McQueen on bass, Yarran Hominh on guitar and Nick Meredith on drums. If this music thing doesn't work out, they can all make a living as Abercrombie & Fitch cover-models. Does everyone in Australia look and sound this sexy?

Guineafowl
Guineafowl performs at The Echo during day one of Culture Collide.
photo by picksysticks


Rainbow Arabia
Rainbow Arabia performs during Culture Collide at The Echo.
photo by picksysticks


And finally, to end my night was Los Angeles duo and married couple that makes up Rainbow Arabia. Led by Tiffany on vocals, Danny's sonic landscaping on synths inject a tribal and Caribbean dance beat, mixed with earthy textures. Acclaimed by the critics for their debut EP Basta in 2008, Rainbow Arabia released their latest album Boys and Diamonds last March on Kompakt records. I was also looking forward to see them again Sunday at the free block party.

Great music, great food and great people highlighted this first day of the festival. With a day job early Friday morning, I headed home, already looking forward to day 2 of Culture Collide.

CULTURE COLLIDE - DAY 2

Laura Jansen
Laura Jansen performs at the Dutch Impact Party at Taix.
photo by picksysticks

Day two's International Happy Hour began with the Dutch Impact Party featuring performances by De Staat, Death Letters and Laura Jansen. I've been trying to catch Laura ever since she released her album Bells last March when she played Hollywood's Hotel Cafe. So understand my excitement when I saw Ms. Jansen on this year's Culture Collide lineup. A lively crowd, there hours earlier helping themselves to the lounge's drink specials was there to greet Jansen and her band who had to follow Death Letters, a fast-heavy guitar rock band from the Netherlands. Switching gears, Jansen wraps her billowy songs with soft, delicate keys, singing of love and loss in a voice that radiates vulnerabilities but then finds strength through heartbreak. Jansen would play a couple hours later at The Echo Park United Methodist Church.

Guineafowl
Guineafowl performs on The Loft at Origami Vinyl.
photo by picksysticks

Maybe it was the lack of sleep from the previous night because confusion was the theme for me during day two of Culture Collide. Changes in set times and venue relocations were posted at festival central at Taix. Unfortunately, I realized that a little too late. It's like throwing me off my game. As previously mentioned, I found out later, due to overcrowding, performances at The Co-Op had to be transferred The Echo. In addition, The Reform was moved to Taix's Champagne Room.

Laura Jansen
Laura Jansen plays inside Echo Park United Methodist Church on day two of Culture Collide.
photo by picksysticks

With time to kill, I wanted to catch Guineafowl for the second time this festival. With a great show at the Echo the night before, Origami Vinyl would be a more intimate setting to catch them. It would've been sad not to fill the store, which holds about 45 people but they did and they played a great set 20 feet above the crowd in what is known as The Loft. Origami Vinyl, an old-school record store was also the place Florence and the Machine handpicked to perform a special gig when she returned to Los Angeles in 2009 after falling in love with it's quaint setting when she was just starting out. Who knows? Maybe next year, Guineafowl will return and play The Loft again after making it big.

Portugal's The Gift was next on the schedule at 9 pm at The Echoplex. Schedule is the key word. I understand bands can go past their time. Delays happen. I get it but nearly 45 minutes of waiting for The Gift to take the stage meant I was missing other bands. Although I was looking forward to catching The Gift, I opted to leave and head back to The Champagne Room at Taix to watch He's My Brother, She's My Sister. Or so I thought. It wasn't. Instead of He's My Brother, She's My Sister, it was singer songwriter (I didn't bother to get his name). Remember the confusion I wrote about earlier? Well, this was it. Trying to salvage this hour, I left singer/songwriter dude and walked over to the church to catch the last few songs of Laura Jansen.

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour at The Echoplex during Culture Collide Music Festival.
photo by picksysticks

11 PM. Returned to the Echoplex to catch The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. Playing since 2007, probably my first exposure to the band came from their catchy song "The Golden Age" which is featured on Heineken's spectacular TV ad. This Denmark-based band, fronted by porcelain, psychedelic, pop-princess Mette Lindberg, shines with their horn section and with their rich and cascading party arrangements. They've taken the responsibility of making the official soundtrack for any cool house party. Heck, they even club-ified one of my favorite classics "Safety Dance" by Men without Hats. They can probably make Rebecca Black's "Friday" danceable.

At midnight, I was contemplating either going home to rest up for Saturday's events or stay to watch this little band from Sweden with a weird name You Say France & I Whistle. Although they were scheduled to play two more times during the festival, I figured I'd just catch them the next day when I was good and rested. But instead, I decided to take a peak. It was at The Chateau at Taix...the hot spot of this festival.

Wow. This was the best decision I made all week. Not only were they the best new band of the festival, they became my new favorite band. Already released overseas, their new album "Angry Men" won't be released here in the States until next year. But the packed crowd at Taix were treated to gems like "OMG," "Animal" and "When Lovers Die."

You Say France & I Whistle
You Say France & I Whistle plays their first U.S. gig at The Taix during Culture Collide.
photos by picksysticks

If their songs weren't a hint of what to expect from this band, then their stage decorations should have screamed it loud and clear as stuffed animals adorned the stage and musical instruments. And it didn't take long for this Los Angeles crowd to turn cuddly innocent stuffed dolls into soft, deadly projectiles as flying sharks and teddy bears flew above this dancing crowd. Even the band members, made up of Patrik, Claes, Ida, Petter and Christian weren't' safe as they dodged flying rabbits and giraffes. Like being injected with a sugar kick, their songs are like a euphoric drug that bolts through your veins. All this happiness should be illegal or even banned at the border. Give me more and I'll be glad to OD on this Swedish drug called You Say France & I Whistle.

You Say France & I Whistle
You Say France & I Whistle's Ida Hedene.
photos by picksysticks

You Say France & I Whistle performing at Taix.
vid by musichelp1

So, in the end, although day two began to a rough start, it ended with many, including myself, leaving with new discoveries and more appreciation of what the world of music has to offer.

Day three and four will be posted soon...I promise.

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