(aka Day Two)
Day two started out hot. Very hot. Like, 95+ degrees by 1pm hot. By the time I arrived at the Rose Bowl I was very glad that I spent so much of day one wandering around checking out the art. Because the only wandering around I would be doing today was a game called, “chase the shade.” But there was still a ton of good music on the horizon so I was in good (albeit sweaty) spirits.
I caught some of NK Band’s set at the Willow tent before making my way over to see The Mowglis. They put on a fun bouncy show but it was too hot to dance. Instead I found a small shady spot under the trees to the right side of the stage. Obviously Arroyo Seco learned some lessons from day one. The place where I stood to watch Alabama Shakes yesterday was roped off. There was now a large walkway in it’s place. After the medical scare that took place they must have decided a dedicated EMT lane was necessary. Smart call. In this heat, someone is bound to faint eventually. Which reminded me to go find a water filling station. It would be the longest line I stood in all day.
Time for a beer and a snack. I laid my blanket in a shady spot on the hill and enjoyed some tasty steak nachos loaded with cheese and jalapenos. Call me crazy but I love spicy food in the heat and ice cream in the cold. I sat and watched people meander from one shady spot to another taking advantage of the pockets of tall trees. Thankfully the sound quality at Arroyo was terrific. Even if you couldn’t see the stage directly, the multitude of speakers positioned in different directions insured you wouldn’t miss a note.
There was one deliciously cool place at the festival. The record store. Ah, sacred vinyl. The houses that own record players are a dying breed. I’m happy to count mine as one of them. Inside the blissfully air conditioned pop-up store were records from all genres of music. Some new, some vintage. Some just plain old. But I still get a thrill sifting through the stacks. Tangible music is not something we get to experience anymore. For a kid that spent hours at Tower Records, and worked in the music department of Barnes & Noble through college, I miss that feeling. The cool thing about this record store is that they would hold your purchase until the end of the day, or the end of the festival. Brilliant! I mean, who wants to carry around a big bulky stack of vinyl. It would either get bumped into and broken in the crowd or melt in the hot sun. Truly a great addition to the festival.
Back at Sycamore stage I saw the Revivalists. They thanked us for braving the heat and then rewarded us with a kick-ass set. They’re definitely one of those bands that I like more, the more I see them play live. If you’re unfamiliar they are an indie rock band with a decidedly bluesy sometimes groovy spin. Check them out on youtube.
The EAT& DRINK at the Greens section was filled with interesting choices. Just follow the large white floating balloons to satisfy your cravings. I was not brave enough to try the Kombucha, not in this heat. Craft Soda isn’t really my thing. But, that Cold Brew tent was calling my name. Seaworth Coffee was the energizing pick-me-up I needed to get through this evening’s final shows. Sadly the tent ran out of ice to put in the cold brew, but it was still tasty. If you needed a more adult beverage they had Craft Cocktails, Wines, and six different breweries called Draughtman Houses. These stalls feature some of SoCals most respected brewmasters. So if the Coors Light and Blue Moon weren’t doing it for you, you could get your hands on some great local cider and craft beer.
Energized and ready to finish strong I headed over to the Oaks to see Fitz and the Tantrums. I saw Fitz in concert at a festival in San Francisco just before they hit it big. It was an early afternoon show and they had a crowd who barely knew them jumping and dancing by the 3rd song. It was such a good show. I was very pleased to see that they are still performing just as strong all these years later. Even if you don’t love their sound, you have to respect their performance. Their energy was unmatched. They must have been hitting that cold brew harder than me. I left their set a touch early and headed back to the Sycamore stage. I wanted to make sure I had great seats for my final two bands of the evening. First up Andrew Bird followed by The Shins.
Andrew Bird is such a unique artist. I’ve admired his solo music for a long time, but this was my first opportunity to see him live. He’s an incredibly talented musician. Some of you may remember him from his days with the Squirrel Nut Zippers but he is now best known for his solo work. A brilliant singer and songwriter, he played guitar and violin and don’t even get me started on his whistling skills. Maybe it was the heat of the day finally subsiding but he basically lulled the audience into a melodic coma.
I contemplated rushing over to catch a piece of Weezer before heading back to see The Shins. But decided against it in the end. I’ve seen Weezer before and well just wasn’t that impressed. Maybe if I saw them before they put out that crap Beverly Hills song I would feel otherwise. But I’ve seen them play their greatest hits and that is good enough for me. Plus, I’ve never seen The Shins. People told me it would be a mellow show, which I was cool with. But man were they wrong! This show rocked so hard. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. First they have a trippy stage show complete with rainbow melting skulls and lots of fog and laser lights. Not at all what I was expecting.
They played some classic hits and a few I wasn’t all that familiar with too. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, they brought out Los Lobos to join them onstage for their first encore! It was amazing. But wait, there’s more… A second encore where they teased Tom Petty’s American Girl. Then a third playing New Slang and the whole audience “Oooooh-eee-oooh” together. It’s those iconic moments that make these festivals worth it for me. The collective mind of music lovers coming together to share in something that means so much to all of us. Those I remember where I was the first time I heard this song moments. The, this reminds me of that special person moment. It means something different to all of us, but for a few minutes we all share the same feeling together. Cheesy maybe. Magical? Absolutely.
Finally the festival came to a close. We all slowly walked over the festival grounds one last time. In a few days it would be just another golf course, but some great memories were made which will never be forgotten. For it’s premiere year, Arroyo Seco Weekend succeeded beyond my expectations. I hope they keep the same vibe for next year. No one needs another Coachella. This festival was more chill and had a wider variety of artists appealing to concert go-ers of all ages. If it stays like this, I’ll definitely be back next year.