By Kathryn Pinto
The first Brokechella started when the organizers of the cARTel art party realized that they didn’t have to cancel their April art party because none of the other participants could afford to go to Coachella, either. Five years later, there is no shortage creative people who were available to come out to a warehouse space in Downtown LA to see music, art, carnival sideshows and get together with friends on a Saturday. This year there were four stages and longer lines, but the energy and optimism that sparked the first festival continue to grow.
So why go to a music festival, or any festival? We want to see a once in a lifetime performance, or we want to see baby bands before they become huge, when we can still see them up close on a small stage, or maybe we just want to hear good music, of any genre, outdoors on a serious sound system while we dance and hang out with our friends. I didn’t see any holograms or TMZ reporters at Brokechella, but I did see all kinds of people hanging out and having a good time. This year I spent a lot more time at the hip hop stage, sponsored by Brownies and Lemonade, where the beats pumped and lyrics flowed with a vitality not seen in a long time. Some highlights:
Dog lovers willing to preregister their pups in advance were able to bring their dogs to the festival, where leashed canines were welcome in designated areas. It was fun and friendly. Dog owners had a chance to spend time with their pets outside on a spring day with a beer and bands and their best friends, an online form wasn’t going to slow them down.
The Brownies and Lemonade Stage:
The hip hop stage was going off every single time I walked inside. There was so much energy in there it was crazy. I don’t believe I am qualified to cover hip hop in a critical way. I love hip hop, but I am not current. I can hardly keep up with all of the indie rock LA bands that flood my inbox and that new Kendrick Lamar was going to last me through the whole year until I saw this stage. So this comes to you strictly as a fan not as a scholar.
The first act to catch my eye was Gavlyn, an all female group showing off choreographed dance moves, led by a front woman who first commanded the stage, then came down to the floor to rap to the audience. Then there was Marty Grimes (above right) who rejoiced in the moment and shouted out to his mom in the audience. Turns out she was the beautiful woman I had been standing right behind for the first half of the set, as proud of her son as any mother ever. Fortune was a full band playing soul, jazz and hip hop all in one impressive package.
Indie rock was well-represented on the cARTel stages. There was a refreshing new crop of bands I mostly hadn't seen before, as well as RFSL favorites like Hi Ho Silver Oh who sounded the best I've ever heard them. There was a trend toward roots and jam band influences from acts like Insects vs. Robots and Neighbors as well as synth pop from Battle Tapes.
In addition to four stages of music there was comedy, visual art and carnival-style side shows like the Los Angeles Ladies Arm Wrestling.
More photos after the jump...