Tuesday, June 9, 2015

MAKE MUSIC PASADENA SHINES IN IT'S 8TH YEAR

Hidden Charms
Vincent Davies gets cozy with the Pasadena crowd at the 8th Annual Make Music Pasadena.
photos by picksysticks.
Last Saturday, over 150 bands made their journey to downtown Pasadena to take part  in Make Music Pasadena (MMP), billed as the largest free, all-day music festival on the West Coast.  

Curated by music lovers for music lovers, Make Music Pasadena showcases international and national bands and caters to the music fan who loves to discover new music while also taking in music's most buzz-worthy artists.  Just as in previous years, MMP showcases artists from many musical genres - rock, folk, country, electronic, R&B - the list goes on.  

From alleyways, coffee shops, parking lots and store plazas,  stages in a six-block radius pepper the streets of downtown Pasadena. 


Hidden Charms
Hidden Charms are on pace to have a breakout year.
photos by picksysticks
The Old Pasadena Main Stage, located on the historic Colorado Blvd., hosted the music scene's best rising acts.  London's Hidden Charms certainly charmed the crowd with their classic rock  sound reminiscent of Van Morrison and AC/DC while also keeping it fresh and new with echoes of White Stripes and Arctic Monkeys.  Sharing vocal duties are Vinny Davies (bass, guitar) and Ranald Macdonald (keys, guitar, bass) while Josh Lewis also plays guitar and bass and Oscar Robertson is the beast on drums.  

Earlier in the week, they wowed at The Troubadour and The Lyric Theater with their hit singles "Dreaming of Another Girl" and "It's Time" recently released to major fanfare.  Hidden Charms, barely out of their teens have already been praised by the likes of BBC, NME, Sirius XM radio and many in the UK Press.  It won't be long until the press, this side of the Atlantic, will follow suit.  2015 is gearing up to be their breakout year especially with their upcoming busy tour schedule including major festivals. Look for Hidden Charms' debut EP in the coming months with a full-length album dropping early next year.  

One of the most electric performances of the day came from LA's own Sir Sly. Admitted huge Drake fans, you can hear the hip-hop influence in their debut album You Haunt Me, released last September, spawning the hits "Gold" and "You Haunt Me" which got them noticed and enabled them to tour and share the stage with the likes of St. Lucia and 1975. 


Sir Sly
Sir Sly
Sir Sly rockin' it on the Main Stage at Make Music Pasadena.
photos by picksysticks
As the afternoon sun blazed in their faces, Sir Sly's frontman Landon Jacobs refused to be confined by the Old Pasadena Main Stage, pacing back and forth like a caged lion, bursting out into the audience while serving their brand of bruising yet sugary, indie-pop songs.  

Located in the center of all this madness was the Paseo Colorado stage, one of six main stages , located in this urban shopping village between a coffee shop and an antiques store.  And with the historic Civic Auditorium serving as a backdrop across the street, this stage had some of the best acts of this fest including one of the few, if not only, indie-pop artists hailing from South Central L.A.


Autumn in June
Autumn in June mesmerizes the crowd at Make Music Pasadena.
photos by picksysticks
One of the highlights this day was Autumn in June, who layers hypnotic dance beats and spatial, imaginative melodies to create a celestial experience that envelopes you to the soul.  With knee-high, glowing, pulsating pyramids around  him and  blue-tinged, fog surrounding him, Autumn in June is not far removed from playing large venues and festivals packed with people ready to party and have fun.  


Autumn in June
Autumn in June
pic by picksysticks
Indie-pop artist Autumn in June got his name because of his interest with experimenting with music which, at the time, was unique and different while growing up on the streets of  South Central Los Angeles where rap was the genre of choice.  Autumn in June they would call him insinuating he was in the wrong place in the wrong time.  But yet, he continued with his passion and released his critically acclaim debut EP last year that got major pick up from music tastemakers like NME, college radio  and influential music blogs. 

A master of sonic landscaping, Autumn in June's yearning coos and free floating synths in songs like "Hours" was part of a long list of  hypnotic singles that got the crowd dancing while  "Hey Arnold," a disco inspired tune with R&B harmonies,  got the weekend shoppers curious enough to stay for his entire set and converted them into instant fans.


Forebear
Crowds enjoying LA indie-pop band Forebear.
photo by picksysticks
Earlier, a large and loyal following filled the plaza for another local band.  Forebear has a dark and brooding sound brewing underneath; like some dark soul biding its time to break free but its kept in check, as though frightened by a spark of lightness.  That's the feel I got while listening to Forebear, the four piece band from Los Angeles who also performed on the Paseo Colorado Stage.    


Forebear
Forebear at the Paseo Colorado Stage - one of six main stages throughout Pasadena.
photographs by picksysticks
This day, it was the cascading strings and soaring vocals by both Scott and Molly that filled the air, often broken up by aggressive guitars and bruising drums. Consisting of Scott Goldbaum, Mike Musselman, Molly Rogers and Nick Chamian, Forebear balances the line between light and dark, hard and soft...rock and classical.  You'd think, for a band, that would sound disastrous but Forebear seemlessly marries all these elements together and somehow makes it work.  And it's mesmerizing.   

Last year's estimated 50,000 attendees braved the upper 80s degree heat while exploring the hundreds of area restaurants and boutiques surrounding the city. This year, the weather was much cooler and crowds came out early to catch Kera and the Lesbians at the Playhouse District Stage presented by SESAC.


Kera & the Lesbians
Kera & the Lesbians
Kera and the Lesbians
photos by picksysticks 
This SoCal band (Los Angeles by way of San Diego)  thrills with their eclectic, rock-folk that welcomes dancing while making you pay attention to lead singer Kera Armendariz's lyrics on heartbreak and love.  Their stage presence is infectious as Kera, reminiscent of a person fighting the possession of the music spirits, jerking, hopping and swaying to every note and drum beat.  Often times vulnerable and other times brash, Kera and the Lesbians inventive melodies was one not easy to forget - perfect for those long picturesque drives with the top down on the Pacific Coast Highway.  

Next up was Dark Waves who had just completed his tour, performed at MMP on the SESAC stage.  Usually accompanied by his backing band, this early afternoon, he performed solo.  


Dark Waves
Dark Waves playing the Playhouse District Stage during Make Music Pasadena
photo by picksysticks
Romantic angst delivered over omniscient guitars and soaring vocals Dark Waves feels like the calm before the storm when you know something bad is about to happen OR the bleak aftermath where you start picking up the pieces of a broken heart.  During his set, he mentioned that he just moved into his new apartment and joked  that his trailer backstage looked much better and even had a lot more food.  Dark Waves will next perform at  Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee this Thursday.  

Make Music Pasadena is just the beginning of the city’s musical series of  free summer outdoor concerts that are free to the public which reflects the spirit of the community and the overall music scene.   Starting this Sunday, June 14th,  Levitt Pavilion Pasadena is presenting 50 free shows which will run through September 20th and will feature artists from around the globe encompassing all musical genres.   Head over to LevittPavilionPasadena.org for more information and dates.


Crowds enjoy the 8th Annual Make Music Pasadena.
All photos by Picksysticks
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