Festival Recap: Sunset Junction
Tue, 21 Aug 2007 16:15:42
Shade seemed to be the most coveted commodity at Los Angeles' 27th annual Sunset Junction, as masses of people huddled next to booths and stages to find refuge from the 90-plus temperatures. Yet, even under these less than ideal conditions, local favorites The Broken West put on a surprisingly enjoyable show that had fans dancing in the glaring sun as The Parson Red Heads joined them for two "tambourine-intensive" jams. Things only heated up soon after on the smaller stage as Breakestra's mix of funk, soul and breakbeats pulled in a crowd that spilled into the food vendor area. The band channeled the likes of Jackson 5 and James Brown, and inspired old and young alike to get down as they segued from a Kool and the Gang-influenced jam into a Sublime-flavored drum solo.
The Broken West (photo by: Jay Watford)
Indie noise-rockers Autolux seemed to suffer the most from the technical issues that plagued bands throughout the festival, as well as the unforgiving sun, which sat right behind them and forced many to shield their eyes throughout the set. Yet, despite being noticeably perturbed by these nuisances, the band did muster some breathtaking moments, emerging from swelling noise into the driving rock moments they're known for. One very tall fan fainted as if on cue as the group launched into one of the set's more epic moments, and the mishap could only have been more coincidental if it had taken place during the following song "Blanket" when singer/bassist Eugene Goreshter ironically muses, "I black out, dive into the sun."
Autolux (photo by: Jeff Payne) | Hot Hot Heat (photo by: Jay Watford)
Indie icons Blonde Redhead took the main stage as the sun finally set, much to the relief of onlookers. As tight as ever, the three-piece put on a remarkable performance, meticulously recreating note for note the intricate studio sound that has garnered them a cult following. The seamless ebb and flow between songs was mesmerizing as the band lulled the audience into a swaying haze with slow-moving song "The Dress," off their new record, 23, and then segued into the driving guitar and drums of "Melody of Certain Three," from their classic 2000 album, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons—easily the most exhilarating moment of day.
On Sunday, local hardcore punk rockers The Bronx took the stage with raw energy to spare, and at their apex managed to insight a small mosh pit during the hottest part of the blistering day. The energy level remained high as indie-poppers Hot Hot Heat took the stage and frontman Steve Bays, who seemed immune to the staggering sun, worked the stage, mic and keys with a peppy enthusiasm and a look eerily reminiscent of Roger Daltrey. When the band launched into the Latin-inspired beat of "Naked in the City Again," a cheer rose from the sea of hipsters and the band fed off the energy, delivering their most inspired performance.
Buzzcocks (photo by: Jay Watford)
Excitement seemed to reach its peak as the sun fell and reunited British punkers The Buzzcocks took the stage. From the first blaring power chord, the motley crew of fans burst into crowd surfing, mosh pits and lyric yell-alongs. About 30 minutes into their set, frontman Pete Shelley walked off stage, and Steve Diggle—unfazed—persisted in wailing on his guitar, playing it with a mic stand and a bottle of wine, which he then shattered before striding offstage. It would have been the perfect display of punk-rock bravado if the band didn't have half a set left. After a few minutes, promoters coaxed the rockers back onstage to clean up the mess—a sight that seemed oddly ironic for a reunited punk band—before playing a few more tunes, including crowd favorite "Ever Fallen in Love?" The rebellious old punkers' performance couldn't touch the complex mastery of Blonde Redhead the night before, but the unbridled energy that they incited in the weather-worn crowd seemed like the perfect way to wind down Sunset Junction's two-day battle with the summer sun.