Category: Make Music Pasadena

Review: Grimes, Grouplove and more at Make Music Pasadena

Grimes at Make Music Pasadena

“Put your guns up,” singer Ashleigh Allard hollered at unsuspecting pedestrians making their way to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf just off Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard on Saturday.

Her rock band, HOTT MT, is relatively young on the L.A. scene, so to grab attention at the Make Music Pasadena festival Saturday, she lured curious onlookers to stop and watch with the promise of free water pistols.

For bands such as Allard's, the day-long music event, which took place largely around Old Town's Colorado Boulevard and the Playhouse District's Madison Avenue, was a rare opportunity to reach potential fans at a festival that has become one of the region's more unique ways to showcase local music.

After passing out the water guns, she invited those who'd gathered around her tiny stage in a shopping alleyway to take their best shot as she skipped, hollered and sang to rough, groove-based rock 'n' roll. Finally, revelers at nearby Lucky Baldwins put down their pints to come have a look at the musical goofiness going down just beyond the pub's patio. Allard's ploy had worked.

Now in its fifth year, the Pasadena festival celebrates music at its most quirky, casual and community-focused. It's grown from an event that largely featured intimate, acoustic appearances in storefronts to one that can now draw artists with national appeal. This year, it ran from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and its main stages, of which there were five, were generally about a 15-minute walk apart.

Boasting 149 performances on pop-up stages, Make Music Pasadena is a large-scale event done on a budget. Ninety-nine percent of the artists appearing do not get paid, say organizers; headliners such as electronic artist Grimes and peppy local rockers Grouplove were expected Saturday to bring at least 20,000 people to downtown Pasadena.

With a budget of less than $200,000, according to co-organizers Josefina Mora, 31, and Kershona Mayo, 30 (both employed by Pasadena business improvement districts), Make Music Pasadena is a break-even proposition that relies on sponsors and the goodwill of local artists.

Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, drew a large enough crowd around her stage on the corner of Colorado and Madison to make local law enforcement nervous. The fast-rising artist sold out the Echo earlier this year and will be back at the El Rey in October.

A temporary fence that had been erected as a photo pit separated Grimes from the audience, though the crowd kept pushing it closer to the stage throughout her set. One overly energetic fan did jump onstage, and Grimes laughed as the male fan danced nearby, even breaking song to tell security, “He can stay,” as he was pulled back into the crowd.

Just one year ago, when Grimes was still struggling for recognition, her soft vocals would disappear into one of the numerous moody layers in her music. On Saturday, her voice fluttered to the front of the mix, like an incandescent light beaming out of the shadows. She turned drum line marches into dance moves and sang, “I close my eyes until I see,” on “Be a Body,” as the music ricocheted around the parking garage next door.

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Grimes, Cults, Grouplove to headline free Make Music Pasadena

The Make Music Pasadena festival on June 16 is scheduled to include Grimes, Cults and Grouplove
When Grimes last played Los Angeles, the indie electro-pop artist sold out the Echo and tickets on the secondary market were fetching close to $70. Fans won't have to shell out a dime for her next gig in the area, as the Canadian artist will bring her moody, shadow-illuminating synth textures to the free daylong Make Music Pasadena festival on June 16, organizers announced today.

The festival is set to host a mix of local and nationally known indie acts, and promises a final lineup of more than 100 bands performing about 150 concerts throughout the day. Others confirmed for the downtown Pasadena event include the wispy, soulful pop of boy/girl duo Cults, high-energy locals Grouplove and hotly tipped up-and-comers Electric Guest, whose Dangermouse-produced debut, "Mondo," was released this week.

Now in its fifth year, Make Music Pasadena is presented in conjunction with Santa Monica public radio station KCRW-FM (89.9). Running from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Make Music Pasadena boasts more than a dozen pop-up stages in unique locales, including outdoor courtyards, parks and neighborhood churches. Pasadena's ARTS buses will also host live music onboard, and carry riders to Make Music Pasadena's multiple main stages.

Others near the top of the bill for the fest include boogie ace Dam Funk, worldly psychedelic act Dengue Fever, French singer/songwriter Soko and soft pop harmonizers Milo Greene. Rounding out the list of confirmed acts thus far are Happy Hollows, So Many Wizards, Torches, Shadow Shadow Shade, Correatown, the Peach Kings, Ozma, Gustavo Galindo and KCRW DJ Jason Bentley. 

Make Music Pasadena is produced by the Old Pasadena Management District, the Playhouse District Assn., and South Lake. More acts are to be announced in the coming weeks, and maps and further information will be available on the fest's site.

Although the Sunset Junction has gone south, there will be no shortage of outdoor music happenings in the L.A. area in the coming weeks. The Silver Lake Jubilee, which runs two days over Memorial Day weekend and comes with a $20 fee, has already unveiled a lineup that includes punk band FIDLAR and soul artist Aloe Blacc.

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-- Todd Martens

Photo: Grimes at South by Southwest 2012 in Austin, Texas. Credit: Todd Martens

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