Last Saturday April 23 Broke LA (formerly known as Brokechella) brought another successful one day festival to young Angelenos: those short on cash, or saddled with unreliable cars or unreliable friends and some who just love dogs. For the sixth year Broke LA was a lively day of music and art in Downtown LA. The festival moved to a new location at Imperial Arts Studios in the warehouse district that was a compact, labyrinthine setting. The dimly lit maze of indoor and outdoor spaces gave the aura of a treasure hunt, with gems to be found around every corner if one was willing to venture deeper inside. (At right, DWNTWN on the Outdoor Stage)
The spirit of the festival is youthful, convivial optimism; everyone in attendance was a participant on board and bought in. Audience members made art and hugged puppies; security guards got down and danced to the bands. Foodies ate tater tots with every conceivable topping and then went back for more. Prince’s passing only three days before did not dim the spirits of festival goers who were mostly young enough to be born after “Darling Nikki” or “Little Red Corvette” had been retired to the eighties oldies station. Tributes rippled beneath the surface, bubbling up in art projects and DJ playlists, but lavender hankies were stowed; the Purple One’s spirit infused all music.
Bark LA (the former Puppychella) was again a highlight of the daytime festivities. At Bark LA canine best friends are invited to join the party. Watts Project and the Animal Wellness Foundation held adoption events for those who don’t yet have a pet of their own. These rescue organizations brought dogs and puppies available for adoption and allowed audience members to snuggle up with a pup and learn more about these no-kill organizations. There was even a Step and Repeat photo opportunity with a doghouse big enough for dogs and their humans.
(Festival Report and Photo Gallery continue after the break.)
Music was the main event folded seamlessly into a celebration of art from artist vendors and art projects that included blacklight street art murals, art installations and participatory conceptual projects like the Office of Missed Connections, a mandate to post a flyer for a missed connection, either a real life romantic or booty prospect, or a cosmic missed connection, as one musician posted for the late artist known as Prince.
Each of the stages was alive with music and energy. There weren’t headliners or as much as there was a pulsating energy coming from every stage, every moment indelible. Threading from one stage to the next was to always be “flipping the pancake” to another side of the festival to not miss anything. Some highlights included Air Life on the indoor stage, seafaring yacht-inspired high-waisted funk with enough 1980’s throwback sax solos to have everyone under the roof on their feet and dancing. Later was the Fuzzy Crystals, dressed in white like the reserve unit of the Polyphonic Spree with just as much energy and charisma.
On the outdoor stage DWNTWN was a rip current of guitar, blonde curls and long legged choreography tearing through a fog machine. No strangers to synthetic fog, Tennis System (or Tennis Motherfucking System as they are identified on their road cases) alluded back to the likes of Joy Division, the Smiths and the studied guitar of Explosions in the Sky.
Brownies and Lemonade, the promoter/party crew, who put on a triumph of a show last year again produced a must-see stage anchored by acts like sister rappers Cam and China (right) who had the crowd losing their mind. B&L concluded with Softest Hard and then an old school covers party (Kanye, Ludacris and more) that turned the stage into a dance party before the show was over.