LIVE REVIEW: Make Music Pasadena 2014
With the curation of Make Music Pasadena changing hands for its 2014 event, many of us were skeptical of the outcome. Upon release, the lineup seemed light on big name acts to head up the Main Stage on Colorado Blvd. In previous years, the streets and alleys surrounding the main stage were packed to the brim. This year, navigating a spot to watch within the allowed areas (still no lingering on the sidewalks) was not difficult.
Still, without so many big headliners like past years (Grouplove, Matt & Kim, Best Coast, to name a few), it allowed attendees the time to search out the smaller acts, what Make Music Pasadena seemed to be intended for in the first place. And those smaller acts are what made the festival thrive. In fact, most of our favorite acts were those that played in the blazing mid-afternoon sun.
To kick things off, Wilds Ones ventured all the way from Portland, Oregon to show Pasadena what they’re made of. Even though their set was early they still gathered a large crowd. – Ivette Orenos
Over on the Playhouse District Electic Stage we caught one of our favorites, Moses Sumney. Watching Sumney perform live is truly watching a master at work. Even for his immense talent, the performer was nervous to debut a brand new song, which was nothing short of breathtaking.
Following Sumney, we waited eagerly for North Carolina duo Sylvan Esso, who has been making quite an impression as of late. And rightfully so, as members Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn charmed the crowd with a very approachable presence. Meath’s vocals swam sweetly through the hot air as Sanborn tweaked knobs and mixed beats with a vigor that was actually engaging. All the while, the two were visibly enjoying themselves and that joy clearly permeated the crowd. After all was said and done, we wish this year’s lineup had featured Sylvan Esso as headliner. Doing so would have wrapped up the fest on a sweet note, sending each person in attendance off into the summer night filled with exhilaration.
Locals Saint Motel took the main stage by storm. As soon as the set started their horn section blared and got the crowd moving. The set was full of energy and did not slow down. – Ivette Orenos
In true free festival fashion, The Wild Reeds played their lovely tunes outside a burger joint – an odd pairing. The three female singers captivated the crowd with their harmonious voices and the melodies they played on their banjo and accordion. – Ivette Orenos
Back over at the Playhouse District stage, dream pop group Tennis attempted to hold their own among the phenomenal early day performances.
Who doesn’t love a little Game of Thrones between-song banter? Run River North surely supplied some. “Remember that time Sigur Rós was on Game of Thrones? We hope one day they film in East Asia, then we could be that band,” quipped frontman Alex Hwang.
Throughout her set on the main stage, singer Yuna had us reminiscing back to Aloe Blacc’s headlining performance at the last Silverlake Jubilee. Her smooth voice and widely appealing presence began to draw in every ear within blocks, eventually inciting a full on groove party.
To round off the night, Florida’s Surfer Blood attempted to send the audience into the summer night on some surfy vibes. Maybe it’s just that we’ve seen how raucous they can get at small club shows, but somehow their charm doesn’t translate on large festival stages. Don’t get us wrong, they sounded just fine, but nothing in their performance left us thirsting for more. Singer John Paul Pitts did do his signature crowd crashing and a little bit of crowd surfing during “Take It Easy”, but it just wasn’t enough to leave an impression.
As some of us headed over to catch one last act on the main stage, we stopped to hear some jams from duo Teammate. With a female drummer (Dani Buncher) and male keyboardist (Scott Simons), we wonder if the act is too close to former fest headliners Matt & Kim. We’ll have to wait to catch them again to decipher that one.
Clearly a move to appeal to the ever growing EDM and dance music popularity, Slow Graffiti headed up the main stage. While the crowd was pretty enthusiastic, it was definitely much more sparse than previous years. If you weren’t already a fan of the DJ or of dance music in general, you more than likely left the performance questioning the scheduling.
Luckily, as we left the thumping rhythms on the main stage, we made our way to catch The Record Company at the Levitt Pavilion. Having played the fest the year prior, we knew we were in for a treat. The trio are exactly what festivals like Make Music are about- bringing in a wide array of fans for a soulful night cap.
We made one last venture out to catch indie pop act yOya, who played in a barely locatable bar. As we made our way in, the pub was already full to the brim.
View a huge photo gallery of the fantastic acts of Make Music Pasadena HERE!