Tuesday, August 28, 2012

SHOW REVIEWS - Echo Park Rising 8/25/12

Lavender Diamond performs at Echo Park Rising.



Aug. 25 in Echo Park

I used to love going to Sunset Junction, back when it was donation-only and really about getting together with friends and neighbors who loved music as much as I did to see local bands, have margaritas at El Cid and rub elbows with the likes of Karen O. As the festival ballooned in price and proportions, showcasing national acts and rickety carnival rides to lure patrons, it lost its luster for me. For the second year in a row, Echo Park Rising has given eastsiders an outlet to celebrate our community, minus the traffic jams.

The day started out with a trip to Two Boots for a slice of cheese pizza. A DJ had taken over the patio to provide background music for those standing around eating their slices or in line to get into the Echo where Highland Park's Seasons were in the midst of their set. After fueling up at Two Boots, we headed to the main stage located in the parking lot of Taix to catch some cumbia from Norwalk's Buyepongo. There was a beer garden set up in the far corner of the lot, which was a great spot to stand in the shade and watch all the action.

I had to brave the sun to get closer to the stage once Lavender Diamond began their set, though. Frontwoman Becky Stark shared facts about Echo Park since it's her home base and a community that she loves, leading into "Oh My Beautiful World" from their sophomore full-length, Incorruptible Heart (releasing Sept. 25 via Paracadute). I had only ever seen them perform in small theaters, but the open space proved no challenge for Stark's strong pipes. Clad in a gauzy salmon gown, she gracefully lifted her arms as her voice soared on other new tracks like "Dragonfly" and "Everybody's Heart's Breaking Now." With each song, the crowd around the stage grew, but their short set was over before very long and the audience was left hungry for more. Luckily Lavender Diamond begin a Monday-night residency at the Echo on Sept. 10.

Next up were Dante Vs. Zombies, headed by former Detroit Cobras guitarist Dante White Aliano, and Robert DeLong. By this time, the area in front of the stage was full of people, who were happy that the sun was going down and eager for NO to start playing. NO's latest project, a 7-inch on White Iris, released today and features artwork by Josh Evans that represents their former house on Mohawk Street, just blocks away from the stage at the Taix parking lot.

The evening ended with a set from another local band, Youngblood Hawke. The ballroom inside Taix was warm, even at 11 p.m., and after they kicked off their set with "Rootless," bodies started moving and it became sweltering hot. Youngblood had performed on the outdoor stage earlier in the night, yet the heat and any exhaustion they might have felt didn't diminish their energy. Vocalist Sam Martin bounced all over the place throughout the set, getting right in crowd members' faces for songs like "Dannyboy" and "Forever." Nik Hughes and Alice Katz pounded their drums with ceaseless zest, while Tasso Smith raised his guitar and beat on it as Simon Katz bravely took his guitar and flailed into the audience. The place exploded with writhing bodies during their cover of the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy," and the entire right side of the room jumped up and down to their hit, "We Come Running." Youngblood's set was the perfect nightcap to a wonderful day in the neighborhood.

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