Arroyo Seco Weekend 2018: Ringing in summer at Goldenvoice’s chilled-out Coachella for grown-ups

Arroyo Seco Weekend 2018Photos courtesy of Arroyo Seco Weekend // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Arroyo Seco Weekend //
Brookside at the Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
June 23rd-24th, 2018 //

No matter how old you are, going to a music festival can be a taxing and tiring affair. There’s a lot of walking, a lot of standing, a good amount of dancing and/or rocking out (depending, of course, on your energy level), and more walking and standing. If “festival shape” isn’t a catch phrase yet, it certainly should be. Because for some of us aging live music fans, being on your feet 8-10 hours and in the sun for two, three or four straight days isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Music festivals, in that regard, are designed primarily for the young and youthful, or at least for those who remain young at heart. So, when famed Southern California concert promoter Goldenvoice, best known for founding and organizing the world-renowned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival every April, announced last year that it would be launching a brand-new, two-day event in Pasadena focused on various forms of rock, funk, folk and country, it served as an opportunity for a different generation of live music fans to experience the same platform that has dominated the industry for the past decade (and for some who are parents, possibly understand why their kids like going to Coachella so much).

Arroyo Seco Weekend 2018 - Neil Young + Promise of the Real


Neil Young + Promise of the Real

With its second installment now in the books, Arroyo Seco Weekend has already carved out a solid niche in Los Angeles’ massive live music scene with a winning combination: great music and high-quality, top-notch local food and drink. It’s the same formula that has made Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco a huge success for longer than 10 years, but it’s still one that had also been largely absent from Southern California music festivals until four years ago when Goldenvoice started making a concerted effort to partner with top-notch LA eateries and restaurants for both weekends of Coachella. That’s where the comparisons end, though.

Arroyo Seco is really its own thing. There’s no denying, even after only a couple of years on the calendar, that it fosters a much different vibe than Coachella or Goldenvoice’s other LA area music festival, FYF Fest, which was surprisingly canceled five weeks after dropping its 2018 lineup due to reportedly poor ticket sales. But with a clear identity from the start, ASW stands more than a fighting chance at a time when music festivals are sadly a dime a dozen (except for the ticket price).

Arroyo Seco Weekend 2018 - Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters


Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters

Goldenvoice CEO Paul Tollett and his team, for one, came out of the gate swinging for ASW’s inaugural edition with a roster led by the late Tom Petty, which unfortunately ended up to be one of his final performances before his unexpected death, and British folk rockers Mumford and Sons, plus Alabama Shakes, Weezer, The Meters, The Shins, Dawes, Fitz & the Tantrums, Live, Andrew Bird, Broken Social Scene, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Charles Bradley & The Extraordinaires, Galactic and many more all making appearances. That didn’t mean, of course, it was void of suffering a letdown in Year 2, but such a thought was quickly put to rest when the fest’s 2018 bill came out and proved to be equally good, if not better than what 2017 offered. With rock legends like Neil Young and Robert Plant sharing the top of the poster with modern-day rock stars such as Jack White and Kings of Leon, ASW made sure to cater to more than four generations of live music fans, much like the longtime New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — which White, Lukas Nelson + Promise of the Real (who also often serve as Young’s backing band), Irma Thomas and Aaron Neville, fittingly enough, all played this year — does each spring in The Big Easy. Throw in some nicer weather and some California-cool flavoring, and you’ve essentially got ASW. So, call it “#Dadchella” if you want, but that won’t stop those of us who are currently in our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s from going again.

If rock is supposedly “dead” like so many say it is these days, you wouldn’t know it from the size of the crowd that descended upon the Brookside Golf Course adjacent to the Rose Bowl Stadium on a couple of hot summer days. ASW, rather, proved just the opposite, with even a few throwbacks, the Pretenders and Alanis Morrisette most notably, drawing large numbers over at the main stage. Then there were singer-songwriters Seu Jorge, Shakey Graves, Margo Price and Dwight Twilley, as well as blues savior Gary Clark Jr., pouring out their hearts and souls in what felt like a family-friendly environment (maybe the baby strollers helped). And how about Inglewood-bred jazz virtuoso Kamasi Washington mesmerizing with a powerful, mid-afternoon set? There were plenty of memories to be made at ASW in 2018, and we were just grateful to be there to bear witness to them.

Arroyo Seco Weekend drops inaugural lineup led by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Mumford & Sons

Arroyo Seco Weekend

Arroyo Seco Weekend //
Brookside at the Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
June 24th-25th, 2017 //

For the past few years, there’s been talk about the city of Pasadena hosting a multi-day music festival near the historic Rose Bowl. Shaun White’s snowboard/music festival Air + Style was the first to give it a shot (read our review here) back in 2015, but after experiencing some noise issues, it moved to downtown LA the following year and has continued to call Exposition Park its home.

Now, those rumors have become a reality with Goldenvoice announcing the inaugural lineup for Arroyo Seco Weekend. Coming to “the shady oaks and parkland” of Brookside at the Rose Bowl in late June, the two-day festival will feature three stages of live music with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Mumford & Sons topping the bill. But maybe even more impressive is the undercard, which includes Alabama Shakes, Weezer, The Meters, The Shins, Dawes, Fitz & the Tantrums, Live, Andrew Bird, Broken Social Scene, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Charles Bradley & The Extraordinaires, Galactic and more. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

In addition to all the live music, there will be curated menus from LA’s celebrated restaurants and chefs, including Union’s Bruce Kalman, Sweetfin Poke’s Dakota Weiss, Rose Cafe’s Jason Neroni, Broken Spanish’s Ray Garcia, Sotto’s Steve Samson and République’s Walter Matzke. Free day parking and a bike valet will be available for festivalgoers, and those looking to take public transit to the festival will have easy access to the Metro Gold Line.

Weekend passes and single-day tickets can be purchased here for $225 and $125, respectively, starting this Monday, March 20th at 11 a.m. PT. VIP passes will also be sold at a price of $399 and $225, with weekend preferred parking available for $50.

Brookside Golf & Country Club

BottleRock unveils 2017 bill, topped by Foo Fighters, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Maroon 5

BottleRock Napa Valley - 2017 lineup

BottleRock Napa Valley //
Napa Valley Expo – Napa, CA
May 26th-28th, 2017 //

The New Year is here, and festival organizers aren’t waiting long to unveil their 2017 lineups.

After CRSSD kicked things off two weeks ago by revealing their own bill, BottleRock Napa Valley has made it official with Foo Fighters, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Maroon 5 booked as headliners for its fifth edition this Memorial Day weekend.

The three-day festival in downtown Napa will feature more than 80 artists and bands across four stages. Notable artists include Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Modest Mouse, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, The Roots, Silversun Pickups, Band of Horses, Fitz and The Tantrums, Dirty Heads, Live, The Naked & Famous, The Devil Makes Three, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Gavin DeGraw, St. Lucia, House of Pain, Bob Moses, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Saint Motel, The Strumbellas, AlunaGeorge, Frightened Rabbit, Andra Day, Galactic, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Mavis Staples and many more.

Like it did last year with classic stoner-comedy duo Cheech & Chong as well as former “Hell’s Kitchen” star Gordon Ramsay, BottleRock’s Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage will be back on the grounds to pair celebrity chefs with some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

Tickets go on sale this Wednesday, January 4th at 10 a.m. here and start at $309 before going up to $349 for a three-day GA pass. VIP passes will be sold for as low as $659 (and as high as $709), and a three-day platinum pass is as much as $3,500.

In the meantime, make sure to take a peek at our 2016 coverage of BottleRock, which saw Stevie Wonder, Florence & the Machine and the Red Hot Chili Peppers serve as headliners.

BottleRock Napa Valley 2016 - White Panda

Galactic unveil a new bag of tricks at El Rey

Galactic_postBy Josh Herwitt //

Galactic with Brushy One String //
El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles
March 20th, 2014 //

One of New Orleans’ very best returned to Los Angeles last week, as Galactic paid its annual visit to the El Rey Theatre on Thursday night.

Over the last few years, the band has made a habit of playing the historic art deco venue whenever it comes to LA, but that doesn’t mean Galactic’s recent gigs have lacked energy or enthusiasm.

In fact, this year’s performance had just as much as last year’s — if not more. The only difference was, this time there was no Corey Glover.

The Living Colour frontman started touring with Galactic back in 2010, and it appeared that the quintet may have finally found the perfect replacement for Theryl “House Man” DeClouet, who was forced to leave the band in 2004 due to health concerns.

But with other projects currently on Glover’s plate, Galactic has had to go back to the drawing board in its search for a singer — something it’s become quite accustomed to after spending the past decade touring with numerous guest vocalists, including former Meters member Cyril Neville and Rebirth Brass Band trombonist Corey Henry. Through it all though, Galactic has failed to skip a beat.

At the El Rey, the five-piece — guitarist Jeff Raines, bassist Robert Mercurio, drummer Stanton Moore, saxophonist/harmonica player Ben Ellman and organist Richard Vogel — sounded just as tight as they ever have before. They took the stage and opened their two-hour set with a couple of instrumental tunes right off the bat, proving that with or without a vocalist, their sound still holds up after roughly 20 years. And when it came time to honor the opening act — in this case, Jamaica’s Brushy One String — with a guest vocal spot midway through the show, Galactic served as more than just a backing band for the YouTube sensation whose song “Chicken in the Corn” has amassed over four million views by now, believe it or not.

Galactic

Yet, what proved to be the real eye-opener on this night was the addition of New Orleans-based singer Maggie Koerner, who joined Galactic for its 28-date, bicoastal tour after recently contributing vocals on the band’s single “Dolla Diva” two months ago. While it was no surprise to hear the song amid a setlist that featured other gems like “Shibuya” and “From the Corner to the Block”, it didn’t stand a chance in topping the band’s cover of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” — thanks largely to Koerner’s unlimited range. At the ripe age of 25, the Louisiana native’s career is only just beginning. Sure, she may not have DeClouet’s on-stage charisma or Glover’s star power yet, but with the way she can hit those high notes, Galactic may have found its next piece to the puzzle.