RECAP: Make Music Pasadena (6/18/2011)
By Adam Valeiras and Taleen Kalenderian on June 21, 2011
Adam Valeiras spent Saturday in Old Town Pasadena for Make Music Pasadena, an entirely free mini music festival throughout downtown Pasadena, which hosted a constant stream of live music at its six large stages and 20 store venues. The local block party provided a great line-up including some big-name indie bands. Look below for his recap of the main stage activities, as well as photos of the event.
I camped out at the main stage all day, not wanting to miss any of the main events, which included, in order: La Sera, Saint Motel, The Morning Benders, NewVillager, Best Coast and Ra Ra Riot.
Photo by Adam Valeiras
Despite the occasional fire marshall interruption and sound mishaps, the festival was a success. Besides, it's hard to complain about a free concert with such a high quality lineup. The two clear standouts of the day were NewVillager and Ra Ra Riot. NewVillager has not received much hype thus far, but I would not be surprised at all if they start making some blog appearances real soon. Live, they sounded great. A minimalist band with only three members, NewVillager had their two vocalists harmonize perfectly to give off a sort of stripped-down GAYNGS vibe. They haven't officially released any music yet, but be sure to check out their self-titled debut album, set to drop mid-August.
Photo by Adam Valeiras
Ra Ra Riot wrapped up the day on the main stage, ensuring a great show by putting together a hit-heavy setlist. They played all their jams, with an equal number of tracks off each of their albums. The two best were pretty easily identifiable. "Boy," off The Orchard, was the first song that everyone got really into. That sporadic yet driving bass line accompanied by the numerous guitar soloettes works perfectly with the violins, cello and naturally high vocals of Wes Miles. Then, their second-to-last track, "Ghosts Under Rocks," is hard not to love with an impressive drum line and slightly strained vocals, giving it that hint of personal struggle.
Photo by Adam Valeiras
The festival is an annual happening, so make sure to keep Make Music Pasadena in mind when another 365 days or so roll by.
FILTER also sent writer and photographer Taleen Kalenderian backstage at Make Music Pasadena to chat with Matheiu Santos and Wesley Miles of Ra Ra Riot about tour life and their festival memories. She also managed to snap us some behind-the-scenes photos of Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, as well as the Ra Ra Riot boys.
Did you get to see any bands play yet?
Wesley Miles: We just caught the last song of The Morning Benders’ set, that’s it so far. Excited to see Best Coast, and Kisses, too, they’re good friends of ours from L.A.
What’s your favorite thing to drink at festivals?
Mathieu Santos: I was in a big White Russian phase for a while but usually it’s hard to find all the ingredients for that at festivals. What’s a good summer drink? A nice Heineken, maybe. I don’t have a favorite, it’s always changing. Disaronno [laughs]. Disaronno on the rocks.
Photo by Taleen Kalenderian
What’s the weirdest thing you've seen today?
Santos: Nothing can really compare with that guy wearing gold lamé backstage. I just saw him out there...he scared me. I feel like I’ve seen him before at other festivals, too.
Have you had a chance to do interesting Pasadena things?
Santos: Three of us walked around last night looking for bars, and we ended up getting yogurt from 21 Choices in Old Town.
What’s the best festival you’ve played so far?
Miles: Probably Coachella.
Santos: Coachella was amazing... It was really beautiful and really well run. Usually festivals are chaotic horrible dirty affairs, but Coachella was a lot of fun. Actually, we were in Europe a couple of weeks ago and we played a few scenic festivals. The show we had before this one was in Austria up in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. It was really beautiful, but we got lost on the way there and got stuck in the mud. We had to drive through the crowd to get to the stage. It was like a house party.
Miles: Everyone was hitting the van, a lot of drunk people having fun hitting the side of the van.
Do you have any Vampire Weekend or Death Cab tour stories to share?
Miles: We weren’t on tour with Vampire Weekend that long, it was less than a week.
Santos: We toured with Death Cab for a while. Ben [Gibbard] and Nick [Harmer], the bass player, are really big sports fans. And we were doing all these outdoor shows in the summer, and they were playing Wiffle ball every day. On the last day of the tour we had this huge Wiffle ball game they organized with all the bands and the whole crew. It was one of the most intense games ever. There were nine innings! Death Cab was one of my first favorite bands...and years later to be drafted by Ben Gibbard on his Wiffle ball team was so great.
Miles: And we were both on the winning team, on Ben’s team.
Santos: It was awesome because we were down by a pretty sizeable amount, then we had this great rally. It was all because of Jack White’s guitar tech, he was the all-star player.
Photos by Taleen Kalenderian