LIVE REVIEW: Make Music Pasadena 2012
This season of music fests continued this past Saturday with Southern California’s Make Music Pasadena 2012, featuring a breadth of performers at stages scattered all through the downtown area. From main stages to tiny tucked away venues, music took over. Despite the sweltering heat, fans packed all stages to see their favorite acts — and maybe catch a few new ones along the way.
We kicked it off at the main Old Pasadena Indie Rock Stage with gritty indie rock from The Peach Kings. Frontwoman Paige McClain brought her Texas born seductiveness to the mic while guitarist Steven Trezevant Dies writhed around stage, dishing out guitar licks.
Although the stage was running behind schedule, Ozma was swift to set up and kick off their set. Many in the crowd were diehard fans, wondering why the band had such an early time slot. Regardless, bodies packed the barricaded area in front of the stage, swaying with the band’s synth-driven indie rock.
While the majority of the crowd was hyped up for Ozma, almost everybody stayed to catch Electric Guest. Unassuming leadman Asa Taccone belted out in a very unexpected soulful croon. The boys in the band had almost every person in the audience grooving within the first song. Taccone’s dance moves, including swivelling hips, had girls screaming so loud that even with earplugs in it was sometimes difficult to hear the band over them.
As the sun reached closer to the horizon, the heat showed hardly any sign of letting up. It was blazing hot as Cults took the stage, lead singer Madeline Follin donning a nearly blinding white lace dress. Having recently caught the band at the Observatory in Santa Ana, we could hardly tell the difference between the performances, aside from the band performing in broad daylight instead of nearly pitch black. One might expect such a dapper band to command the stage with charm and vigor. Instead, their energy rarely escalated, leaving the crowd in a befuddled stupor.
Following Cults we felt we needed a boost of excitement. After downing two boxes of coconut water, we booked it down the street to the nondescript Playhouse District Eclectic Stage to catch Grimes. The crowd swelled as the previous band exited the stage, eager to catch a daylight glimpse of the Canadian electro-pixie Claire Boucher. By the time Boucher had set up her equipment, even the parking garage adjacent to the stage was lined with people waiting for the fun to begin. For all the charm Cults lacked, Grimes more than made up for it, clearly flattered at the amount of people who showed up for the set. At one point an enthusiastic fan jumped on an empty section of the the small stage to dance. A security guard attempted to escort the dancer off the stage, to which Boucher responded several times “It’s ok! He can stay! He can stay!” Still, the security guard made it a point to remove the dancer and Boucher was visibly perturbed by the incident. Yet, she collected herself quickly and powered through her dance jams with fervor.
Unfortunately, although the main stage was running behind, we couldn’t quite dash back in time to catch Milo Greene. However, that allowed us to get right up front for the main attraction of the evening, local super-rising stars Grouplove. With the heat barely letting up and the sun setting, the quintet that calls Los Angeles home immediately commanded the attention of the crowd as they took the stage. The magnetic Hannah Hooper bopped around as if on springs while multi-colored coiffed Christian Zucconi banged his head as if in a ’90s grunge music video. The group has been riding a year-and-a-half high that has taken them all over the world and it is clear from their live performance that they are still loving every moment of it. Even with just one album and one EP to their name, the eclectic group always feels fresh and alive on stage. It was this collective high that made the heat and crowds bearable at this year’s Make Music.
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