This year’s Sunset Junction will be featuring an increased amount of emerging acts made up of the People In Your Neighborhood, a positive retro trend. Without wanting to harp too much about the good old days, one of the great aspects of the nineties-era Junction was the sense of a community expressing itself in the same place for a whole weekend, which necessarily gets lost when the focus turns to touring national acts and the whole thing becomes another big rock festival.
But the focus on LA’s bands of today, including the addition of a locals-only stage inside El Cid – which is always packed anyway, as one of the handfuls of places with restrooms near the Bates stage- will give a chance for some of that spirit to be reclaimed this year. And our first look at the bands that have been booked reveals an affirmative truth: we WOULD interrupt our plans to watch at least a few songs by almost everyone that’s going to be there.
We asked as many of the locals as we could round up the same question:
Your set at the Junction is about to begin, but I’m thinking of heading over to the Tilt-A-Whirl and maybe get a funnel cake. What would you say about yourself to make me stick around for your set?
Here’s what they had to say, along with our snap thirty-second judgement after clicking on the band’s respective websites and listening to the first song they had posted. Responses listed in the approximate order received.
They reply: We’re about to throw a really loud beach party in the middle of Sunset Boulevard. Beach Party will ALWAYS beat Tilt-A-Whirl!
Our Inclination: Stick around to gauge the size of the wave.
They reply: Dude, you’re about to miss the Mermaid Queens whisper to you the secrets of the Universe.
Our Inclination: We’re not always in the mood for sugary, sunshiney synth pop but on a sunny day with cotton candy vendors in close proximity, this could work.
They reply: If you were to gander over to Tilt-A-Whirl, you would be making a grave mistake that would no-doubt effect the quality of your life. The sonic incomparability that is Chasing Kings is nothing anyone should readily dismiss, given the option. When the stars inevitably align for Chasing Kings and their presence is known worldwide, you would be in a position to say “I, committed CK fan, saw Chasing Kings at Sunset Junction even before the release of their debut album” and anyone un-foolish would relish in your uniqueness and eloquentness. If this does not persuade you to maintain your ground at the Edgecliffe Stage then I’m afraid you shouldn’t be at Sunset Junction.
Our Inclination: They’ve got Napoleon Dynamite in the band so they can’t be all bad.
He replies: You have to stick around! Not only will my set inspire you, it will blast positive energy that will keep you dancing through the whole set! I guarantee you have heard NOTHING like it, the vibe is thick and so funky it will have you beg for an encore! I bring the underground house music to the main stream!
Our Inclination: Skip the funnel cake, get a drink and come back. I have to admit, I listened to the remix of “Come Together” all the way through.
They reply: First I’d say that funnel cake and a tilt a whirl are a bad combo…that’s barf time! Besides not throwing up I think we have a fun show…we all have a good time playing, singing and dancing around up there and hopefully it rubs off on the crowd… We definately have a high energy set and as much as we love sweets and fun we really love playing to a good crowd! I dunno, it’s hard to sway anyone away from cake!!!
Our Inclination: The first track on the website, “Losers”, starts out sounding like Simon and Garfunkel and finishes sounding like the Pixies. Intriguing. Make it a point to catch them.
He replies : Ever have your ears molested by 6 charming men who love The Muppet Band, tequila and songs about the Devil? Oh, you have? Then you should probably go get funnel cake, you sick freak.
Our Inclination: Sounds like a modern day Terry Allen, and that’s not a bad thing. Expect to watch the whole set.
They reply: Coincidence? I was thinking of hitting the Tilt-a-Whirl too! Let’s meet there around 4, I’ll buy you that funnel cake you’ve been going on about then I’ll take you over to Tiki-ti for a Scorpian Bowl. That way you’re well liquored up before we head to El Cid for the after-party we’ll be playing. Maybe breakfast in the morning? Shoot me your number and I’ll make it happen.
Our Inclination: What a righteous bunch of dudes! Make sure they see me from the stage, watching their last song if nothing else. But plan to catch the whole thing, the track “Psycho” suggests fellas that know their way from heavy.
She replies: I look like a 14 year old, and sound like Janis Joplin had a baby by Tom Waits. My favorite past time is drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes. Truly no one sounds like me. I have a grassroots sound, with a modern feel, focusing on lyrics and storytelling. I also tell jokes, dance, and I may give you a hug after the show, but only if you buy something. For fans of Brandi Carlile, Gillian Welch, and Mumford and Sons: you’ll want to be on me.
Our Inclination: Could be the perfect soundtrack if you’ve reached the chill-out part of your festival day.
He replies: I’m a born and bread Angeleno. I’m hear to testify that the healing powers of music are there for you if you let them in. Open your heart and get ready for some original music from the soul and for the soul.
Our Inclination: Find a tree to settle under and smoke ’em if you got ’em.
She replies: we play songs… you can dance. or you can sing along. and we may just rock a little Rihanna song HoCo style- if you’re into that sorta thing.
Our Inclination: Hard to call as the music player on her site wasn’t working the day we tried to check her out. The Bio suggests an affiliation with the Hotel Cafe and notes her as a tour mate of Ingrid Michaelson, which probably tells you whether or not you need to see this. But our innate artistic prejudice is starting to smell funnel cake.
They reply: Harmonies lazily hanging about on a hillside field of rolling grass and sea breezes with an old Abbey in the distance and the grayest of clouds fumbling
Our Inclination: Sounds kind of like Jefferson Airplane, which is the most perfect summer festival music ever. A destination set.
They reply: The Tilt-A-Whirl is a tease. It’ll spin you around for two minutes until your sick from devouring sticky sweet funnel cake goodness, then leave you dizzy and nauseous. Tic Tic Boom! is one half hour straight of fun dance party good times. You might get a bit sweaty, but you won’t hurl, unless, of course, you have one too many delicious El Cid margaritas…
Our Inclination: Hang in there for at least the first few, they hit some of the best notes of 80s synthpop.
They reply: The funnel cake may temporarily fill your insatiable need for sugar (which you’ll probably regret later) but we will fill your heart with substance and it’ll last a lifetime. And besides, the tilt-a-whirl is for babies/losers.
Our Inclination: Insult the greatest carnival ride ever, will they? Ride the Tilt-A-Whirl twice, with headphones on.
He replies: Tilt o Whirls and funnel cakes is a bad combination any way you slice it. You’re asking for trouble. I’ve got a fine rock and roll band that will leave you neither fat nor nauseous. Who eats funnel cakes in the middle of August anyway, and have you seen the guys who put together the Tilt o Whirl? That thing is held together with chewing gum and duct tape. Any way you look at it, staying to watch my band is safer, healthier, and ultimately more fulfilling. Do what you want, I don’t care.
Our Inclination: I don’t particularly like it when people attack my taste in snacks OR carnival rides, but his music video suggests there may indeed be some more than decent boogie rock to be had. Forego funnel cake for a sausage and beer, and come back.
They reply: Not only are The Steelwells lower in calories, but they taste better and won’t cause dizziness or vomiting. However other side effects may occur including but not limited to perspiration, elevated heart rate, and the nagging desire to drive the California coast wearing nothing but diamonds with the top down. Consult your physician before touching this band so you know which one is clean.
Our Inclination: Hang in there, the track “El Capitan” brings back memories of Poi Dog Pondering and seventies-era Beach Boys.
They reply: Living Dead Lights are an internationally comprised rock ‘n’ roll band based in Hollywood, California. Rolling Stone Magazine has proclaimed them the “coolest thing to hit a stage in 10 years,” and said their smash single “What Do You Do?” is a “guaranteed mega-hit,” while mastering legend Eddy Schreyer calls them “The Future of Punk Rock!”
Our Inclination: I asked a simple question, and they respond with the chest puffiest part of their bio? This is about what you’d expect if you heard the Strip suddenly went emo one day. Might not be bad background music for riding the Hammer though.
They reply: Tilt a whirl is a good time, but if you would like to truly live your life to the fullest, it would be in your best interest to come over to the Leftover Cuties set! We promise that with the first song you’ll be twirling and dancing and having a better time than the few minutes you would have spent on Tilt A Whirl. And I’m always down to join you for post show whirling!!
Our Inclination: Their trip is very sixties retro, with Vox organs at the front of the mix, but unlike most of the revivalists I’ve heard besides April March, they sound like their records could actually have been made IN the sixties. Bonus points for respecting my choice of rides.
She replies: Statistically more people choke on cake than my show, so for health and safety issues alone, I suggest you stick a Round.
Our Inclination: Another good candidate for the chill-out segment of the evening.
They reply: Funny you should ask that question… we recently had a review written about us that said something to the effect of, Don’t miss this set! Oh Darling is more fun than a ride on a Tilt-A-Whirl followed by a funnel cake!! True story!
Our Inclination: Fragile female harmonies over effortlessly melodic tunes complex and sophisticated arrangements worthy of Okkervil River? Make it a point not to miss this one.
They reply: To be fair, funnel cakes and tilt-a-whirls are nice but wouldn’t you rather be attending a sexually charged, whiskey-induced, Mad Hatter’s dance-your-fucking-ass-off tea party? Of course you would so stay put and watch Lovers Drugs; a bit brit rock with a sprinkle of bubblegum beach pop nostalgia that will have you bobbing your head like a sock hop groupie. Someone once described Lovers Drugs as, “XTC and Wire arm-wrestling the Buzzcocks, while listening to the Primitives.” If that doesn’t make you say “F” the puke-a-whirl, nothing will. So plant yourself in the front row of El Cid at 4pm on August 27th and give Lovers Drugs your attention. In return, the band will give you honest vocals, a keen sense of melody and some damn catchy tunes. But hey, if you are heading that way, grab us a funnel cake too, those things are like crack!
Our Inclination: By all means give them a few numbers, we seem to like so many of the same things, if we met on match.com, we’d be sure to go on a date.
They reply: Attached.
Our Inclination: At press time we were unable to determine if this was the group’s response to our question, or their Relationship status, in which case, sorry, girls. As for their music, it reminds us a lot of TV shows like Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill, one of those scenes where somebody’s heart has been broken, but they’re riding their bike thinking about the future and how everything’s gonna be OK, and there’s a guy singing earnestly anout his feelings in the background… And if you hadn’t guessed by now, funnel cake it is.
Well, all in all, we’re impressed with organizers’ ability to locate people in the neighborhood capable of rocking a summer festival stage alongside some hefty touring bands. Repeat trips to the Tilt-A-Whirl may just have to wait for the LA County Fair. where tearing ourselves away from Styx and REO will be no problem whatsoever.
The Sunset Junction Street Fair takes place August 27-28 on Sunset Blvd betweeen Bates and Maltman. Tickets $15 in advance, $20 at the gate.