Butts must be the leading theme at Broke L.A. fest, I thought to myself as I walked in to what looked like an old mechanic's overflow lot turned into festival entrance at Imperial Art Studios in downtown Los Angeles. Not only was I greeted with an ass themed balloon, but I couldn't help (stop staring) but notice the pale pair of cheeks falling out of the denim shorts just in front of me in the ticket line. No picture because come on guys, I'm not THAT much of a skeeze. I'm all for a candid, sniper style shot, but restraint can occasionally be best. The line was almost non-existent at this early hour, so I was in pretty quickly. Music from the 5 stages formed that muddled melange of sound you know so well if you've ever been to a festival. It's both comforting and disconcerting at once. WHERE DO I GO FIRST??
Well I just walked forward, and ran right into my friends Amber and Amrit, two of the best people you could ever meet first at a festival, let alone anywhere and everywhere you might be hanging. Amber has created a really cool art project/love hub of sorts called The Office of Missed Connections, based on the popular craigslist section that will entertain you for days on end should you let it. A talented visual artist and graphic designer, the set was striking in it's layout and so intriguing in it's content and execution. Have a look here - officeofmissedconnections.com - and follow on insta (@officeofmissedconnections) for what is sure to be solid entertainment, not to mention what could very well be a real connection for some. Love it.
I realized at this point that I hadn't eaten yet, and at this point it was basically dinner time. That's been a strange and slightly annoying trend of late, just not thinking of food until I've grown ravenous and lightheaded. But alas, the beer booth was much closer, and the free temporary tattoo that doubled as a free beer ticket was burning a hole in my pocket. After an awkward exchange with the redheaded beer girl about both of us applying it on our wrist in the wrong direction, I was ready to forage for grub.
To get to the food truck section, one had to defeat the tireless Japanese candy distributors, fight through the puppy adoption section, and avoid the cucumber water booby traps/art installation. Which to be honest, was probably unintentionally one of the coolest exhibits I saw that day. It just kind of fit the theme, and the placement was in a prime traffic area. Bravo to the unnamed artist. Bravo.
I ordered some sort of spicy orange chicken from the Swami truck and continued to wander through the market section towards the big indoor stage. Was between sets, and most people were just lining the back corners eating and people-watching. For the record, both the food and the people-watching were great, but considering it's a festival and these were L.A. food trucks, that shouldn't be a surprise. What was striking early on was how many festival bases the promoters had covered. I was probably there for less than two hours, and I was able to see and experience a little bit of everything on a relatively small festival grounds. Butts, as I mentioned earlier, were plentiful... but musically speaking I saw garage rock, electro, EDM, rap, and even a decent comedy set in the span of about 20 minutes. There was an area that was like a child's depiction of L.A. landmarks and "isms", complete with markers and chalk to do your own tagging of the L.A. river, Chinatown, the Hollywood Hills, Capitol "Fart" Records, and even the Gloved One's haunt, Neverland.
I couldn't stay to see all of the musical acts due to a hot date with a busted bridge (more on that below) but what I did see was cool. Notably the band Yassou from the Bay area of California. I got plenty of Portishead vibes from them, but on the darker side even. The vocalist and sometimes bassist had the whole captivating and mysterious thing down, even in the mid afternoon sun and light crowd. Feels like they're just getting started as a group, and I liked what they were throwing down. The stage backdrop here was so perfect. Industrial chic. All barbed wire, rebar and blue sky with purple lighting accents. Striking and eye pleasing. Well played to whoever made that happen.
This show below was probably my favorite installation. So simple and so good. For those who drive a car and have lived and worked in the city for a substantial length of time know how frustratingly corrupt the parking ticket department is. They'll get you at some point, that's a given. Nowhere is safe. The house always wins. Fuckers.
After a giant group of bros came in and sloppily raised 20 cups of beer to the sky in a massive cheers to bro-dom, I decided I had seen and heard enough for the day so I took a walk down 7th street and over to the 6th street bridge demolition site. It's being replaced because of some rare chemical reaction in the concrete supports that would probably not stand a chance against the coming BIG ONE. The bridge and the location are pretty famous, being featured in many a moving picture and photoshoot for almost 90 years. Lots of nostalgia here, and it's hard to see it go. But yeah, for those who will likely be on or under the bridge if and when the ground starts shaking, this is a great move. Plus, the new bridge looks pretty cool. Read more here if you fancy: sixthstreetviaduct.org - check out the animated tour complete with freaky ghosts.
Boyle Heights isn't the safest feeling spot at dusk, but I traipsed around the no trespassing signs, down the onramp, and up through a little hole in the fence to get right up to the edge of the eastern side of the bridge carcass, just across the 101. The lack of walkers was surprising because this is actually a rad spot to hang and set up camp, but nevertheless I was thankful for the solitude. I was having fun grabbing shots and ducking as the police choppers flew overhead. I thought for sure I'd get the spotlight or megaphone, but they either just didn't notice me or had more important things to be doing in a helicopter. Probably both. I'm sneaky as fuck.
Great day in L.A.. Had to say it was a good day.