by Brad Roberts
photos by Zoe-Ruth Erwin
The Silver Lake Jubilee was not only an entertaining extravaganza, it was an endurance test. Arriving at 1 on Saturday, May 26, I met up with Zoe-Ruth Erwin, who would photograph a bunch of the sets we got to hear that day. The weather was absolutely perfect, clouds on the horizon, the sun passed in and out of the few clouds overhead and the temperature was barely 70, coupled with a swift cool breeze that occasionally swept the fairway. What followed was a swirl of people, bands, food and drink.
Entering through the press entrance at Santa Monica Blvd. and Commonwealth, we wanted to figure out the layout so we could scurry back and forth between stages. Walking past the Hoover Stage first, we headed straight up to the Sunset Stage where we wanted to start with Wildcat! Wildcat! (at right) who began their set at 2. I hadn't seen them before but they quickly caught my attention with their thumping bass, chiming guitars and strong vocals. I liked the songwriting and was left wanting to hear more. A good beginning.
Heading back to the Hoover, we watched Leslie Stevens and the Badgers setting up, but today it was only Leslie and one Badger, but they still made sweet sounds together. Her voice is often compared to Dolly Parton, but there's also a raw quality that sets her apart, enabling her to blast out the back wall...even outdoors.
Most sets lasted a half hour, so they got to sing about five or six song, many of which sounded new to me. Even with the wind the sound was clear and pealing.
Strolling back through the midway, stopping for food and relaxing in the shade, seemed to be what everybody was doing. The atmosphere was idyllic. Now that Silver Lake Jubilee is in it's third year, (and Sunset Junction is gone) it has gotten much bigger than the first year, over on Myra Avenue. Some of the intimacy is gone, but it seems a much more community-friendly event thus far, utilizing some of the area's establishments like The Eagle Bar and El Cid. And they both presented some of the festival highlights! Rob Danson got our annual Silver Lake Jubilee portrait here (with an intruder!).
Meanwhile, back at the Sunset Stage, Moses Campbell, showed off the high-energy power punk that I enjoyed so much a couple of years ago at the last Sunset Junction. The astonishing display of youthful energy that flies out of Sean Solomon is matched, not only by his band, but by their audience who were driven to the frenzy of a mosh pit in front of the stage. It's easy to see why, there's so much imaginative and creative songwriting underneath it all. Sean's braying vocals are counterbalanced by his quiet squeak which sound vaguely like the punk flip side of the same school of singing that spawned the more folkie Avi Buffalo. Is it a Long Beach thing?
I was, once again, pretty floored by their set and it brought the afternoon to a peak, from which I had to take refuge by getting invited into the "Green Room", where there were plenty of free riches to be had. And we had them. It's nice to be a member of the press.
I had intended to take this day easy to be able to last through the much more densely packed line up on Sunday, but alas, I ran into Kathryn Pinto and many band friends in the V.I.P. lounge and the day stretched on. I managed to take in sets, or parts of sets, by a man wearing a beard made of feathers, (oh, and wearing a very nice white dress) called Featherbeard, on the Free Stage, and Allah Las, who sounded very good to me.
More partying followed and on my way out I happened across the entire set by Letting Up Despite Great Faults, and this proved to be a highlight of the musical day. They may have move out of town, but they still seemed like the same local band that I fell in love with two years ago. I don't understand why this band isn't huge. They really played an exceptional set of truly gorgeous music and it sent me home in a daze of wonderment. I've been listening to their two releases ever since.
We'll be back to write about Sunday...but later in the week. And thanks, Zoe, for the pictures. And thanks to the staff of Silver Lake Jubilee, and especially Pauline Lay, for getting us into the festival.