The 12th annual Eagle Rock Festival: A quick look at some of Saturday's don't-miss acts
Over the last decade, Eagle Rock has witnessed a significant demographic and cultural shift. Once a sleepy working-class community, the neighborhood has since transformed into a bastion of the bearded.
Everyone from artists to musicians have flocked to the neighborhoods of Mt. Washington, Glassell Park, Highland Park and Eagle Rock proper for the low -- err, lower -- rents, sorely underrated restaurants and thriving creative class.
Dovetailing with this evolution has been the Eagle Rock Music Festival, a once also-ran in the city's increasingly crowded festival scene, but now one of its most premier events. Had Sunset Junction or the FYF Fest booked a lineup this eclectic and progressive, few would've complained (and by few, I mean myself).
Indeed, the organizers of the event have enlisted such local rock and dance aficionados as FYF, Dublab, the Low End Theory, Earlimart's Ship Studio and Mochilla to curate stages that boast some of the area's finest hometown products. And at just $5, the price point is right.
At the risk of excluding many other noteworthy acts, here a brief guide to some of Saturday's best bets, with links to previous Times coverage of the acts.
Darker My Love (7 p.m).
There's only so light you can get when your name is Darker My Love, but judging from the first two tracks leaked from the act's recent "Alive as You Are," the venerable L.A. pysch-rockers have swapped their nocturnal habits for the joys of the summer sun.
Though the band's press kit notes that the record was informed by "profound personal tragedy," the early records evidence little hint of the pulverizing distortion and drone-heavy jams that characterized their first two Dangerbird LPs. As Scott McDonald of Surfing on Steam noted, there's a salient resemblance to Big Star and the Byrds. You can even detect faint shades of "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn"-era Pink Floyd on "Dear Author," which channels England in the mid-'60s: the UFO nightclub, acid trips and light shows with technicolor strobes.
The Soft Pack (10:15 p.m)
The Soft Pack makes fast, scrappy music full of guitar riffs that ricochet between low-fi recklessness and sunny euphoria. On the band's upcoming self-titled debut album, the musicians tackle plenty of standard topics, with songs about girls, break-ups and the like delivered with punchy, punk-inspired zest.
Then there's the casual track or two about seceding from the union. "Ride the legislation," singer Matt Lamkin briefly shouts on "Pull Out," a frisky, cymbal-heavy number in which California becomes its own country.
Lucky Dragons (4:45 p.m.)
At the forefront of a growing number of bands that yoke together artistic and musical practices, the Lucky Dragons have performed at several museums, including the Whitney in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Like kindred local spirits Los Elegantes and My Barbarian, or YACHT from Portland, Ore., they view performance, visual art and music as one seamless expression.
Rainbow Arabia (7:45 p.m)
Though the band's MySpace page claims a home base in Echo Park, the music of Rainbow Arabia exists outside the constraints of regionalism. The Internet Age is a strange, tropical-feathered beast. Climate and close quarters can still breed a specific sound (see the Low End Theory beatmakers, the early years of dubstep in London, the lo-fi sound incubated at the Smell), but the next generation of musicians is as equally likely to pull inspirations from a previously unobtainable collection of funk 45s culled from attics across the globe, or obscure Zambian psychedelia, or (far too often) Animal Collective.
Egyptian Lover + Arabian Prince (10 p.m)
Arabian Prince's relative anonymity stems from his own volition as much as from the triumph of the gangsta rap sound over its techno-influenced forebears. A self-professed tech nerd, he boasts about taking one of the first laptops created, a Radio Shack Tandy model, on N.W.A's first tour, and in the '90s he ditched the music business for his own special-effects and 3-D animation company, Hypnotx FX.
Born K.R. Nazel, Arabian Prince grew up in Inglewood, where he got swept up in the then-nascent hip-hop scene. Hypnotized by anything on the Sugar Hill label, he began peddling mixtapes at school. The tapes led to DJ gigs, which he parlayed into his weekly club, the Cave, in Lennox.
Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock
Asura + Ana Caravelle (6:45 p.m.)
There’s a pixie-shaped specter hovering over the music of Ana Caravelle -- one that looks an awful lot like Joanna Newsom. Such will be the lot of any young woman who roots an experimental, ambitious album around the harp and an idiosyncratic voice. But “Basic Climb,” the debut album from the 22-year-old Angeleno (née Anahita Navab) is about as far from Newsom’s cracked madrigals as you can get.
Sun Araw (9:45 p.m.)
While the Low End Theory crew and their London colleagues loosely channel Lee Perry through smothering bass and sun god drums, Eagle Rock’s Sun Araw aims for a more mystic and mellow interpretation of the Jamaican sound.
But don’t mistake him for some pale poseur reinventing himself as a Rastafarian. The guitarist born Cameron Stallones has carved a spot for himself at the intersection of psychedelic, dub and drone music, recording witching, hour-long jams live and then layering fuzzy wah-wah guitars, odd percussion and plaintive wails.
Low End Theory Stage
Should you be in the mood to stay sedentary and are unable to make the weekly Wednesday night pilgrimmage to Lincoln Heights' Airliner, the Low End Theory stage gathers the city's most mindblowingly creative DJs and producers all in one place. With audio by sound system masters Pure Filth, this is the consistently best bet of the festival. And when the Low End Theory promises a special guest -- as it promises in the 10:20 p.m. slot, that quite often means that Flying Lotus is in the neighborhood.
4 p.m. Jonwayne; 4:25 p.m. Teebs; 4:50 p.m. Mono/Poly; 5:15 p.m. matthewdavid; 5:40 p.m. Take; 6:05 p.m. SAMIYAM; 6:30 p.m. Free the Robots; 6:55 p.m. Dibiase; 7:20 p.m. Ras G; 7:45 p.m. Nocando; 8 p.m. D-Styles; 8:25 p.m. Daddy Kev; 8:50 p.m. Nobody; 9:15 p.m. Gaslamp Killer; 9:40 p.m. Nosaj Thing; 10:20 p.m. Finale
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Darker My Love / Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times