With so many shows and festivals in the past week or so Radio Free Silver Lake has lots of great stories piling up on our newsroom. Before we give you our FYF Fest report, RFSL catches up with our Sunset Junction coverage. Special thanks to John Graney of the Californian who volunteered to report back as a Special Correspondent during this crazy couple of days.
By John Graney
If you read this site you know that Sunset Junction was shut down this year. Never mind why, but it left a lot of local music makers and shakers without a way to give their audience what they had hoped for. My band, The Californian, is one of said Music Makers - and like everyone else I spent the last week scrambling and clawing at the ceiling trying to come up with the answer to the question "what the fuck do we do now?" Well it's now Sunday morning and we are square in the middle of the "what the fuck we do now" festival. An interesting side point: I never went to Sunset Junction ever. I am a third generation Angelino and a professional noise maker and I just never went - so I don't have any of the "boohoo my party was shut down" feelings - nor do I have any of the "I hated that thing anyway thank god it's dead" feelings. I'm approaching this weekend's ragtag entertainment hodgepodge with a completely open mind. And before I get going with my run down of events I'll say this - It's pretty fucking cool.
I arrived in Silver Lake at noon while Francisco The Man was spilling out all over the streets. I had come to check out the party at Dangerbird Records. Along with Kevin Bronson's Buzzbands.la they had managed to adopt a healthy roster of Sunset Junction orphans and were putting on a show in the backyard of the labels headquarters. First off - I'd be perfectly happy to hang out in that “backyard" any freaking day, listen to tunes, shoot some hoops, and stare at their giant palm tree. I could write a 100 page book on the success of this little get together. Amazing bands played in the seven hundred thousand degree death ray sun while us proles fought a silent but vicious battle for tiny plots of shade. Locals hung out and drank beer on their patios watching form neighboring buildings and all the usual faces of the Silver Lake music scene walked around with a look on their face of "I'm still not sure if I'm supposed to be enjoying myself or not." They were. It was rad. By the time Chasing Kings took the stage (my second time seeing them in 12 hours, which was a serious treat) whispers, tweets, and jokes all sounded like this, "Hey this is a lot like SXSW." It was.
Before I left the utopian dream world that is Dangerbird's backyard I caught sets by The Fling and Vanaprasta. Two more Junction Orphans. Two more badasses. The grounds were now packed with sweaty humans. I don't think I heard anyone even mention Sunset Junction. I heard a lot of people saying, "this is fucking awesome - where are you heading next"? Which is what you constantly find yourself saying at SXSW.
From there I headed down Sunset towards the epicenter of what was now being called Echo Park Rising. Which is basically The Echo, Echoplex, and the surrounding business - all of which had set up some way of taking care of stranded Junction strays. I never made it there. A Moheak Radio tent caught the corner of my eye and I stopped by to see what was going on there. A sizeable audience was hanging out watching a band I'd never seen called Temporal Love. hm. I don't think it's appropriate for a musician to say certain things about another musician, so I'll just say "THEN it got really interesting when ANGELYNE showed up, pulled her legendary pink convertible right up three feet away from (practically blocking) the stage, and started taking pictures with fans. It was one of the most awkward and hilarious things I've ever seen.
Then I got wind of a backyard BBQ a few blocks away where live bands, whole roasted pig, and home brewed beer were being promised. I got there as fast as I could. It was pretty glorious. The scene there was an almost perfectly framed picture of something that this community does beautifully, when allowed. A crowd of people who all look like caricatures of each others enemies all hung out together in an awesome Silver Lake backyard, beer in hand, all reeling from the Death To Anders set which I had just missed (damnit!) and the amazing smell of BBQ smoke. People say that Sunset Junction was supposed to be some sort of celebration of the community - but I have a hard time believing that is true - especially when THIS is a true celebration of the community. It's literally The Community, hanging out and celebrating together.
Shortly thereafter the heat got the better of me and I had to roll my melted body back home, but not before getting a free dessert from Mohawk Bend that they were offering in honor of the festivities. I don't think anyone knows what's going to happen next year. If Sunset Junction will be back (I doubt it), if they will try to do this again (I loved it but I'm not sure it can be reasonably sustained) or something else all together. It's quite possible that this weekend was a completely unique experience that will never happen again - certainly not like this. That being true, I'm really glad I was there.