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August 19, 2007

DJ Eric Coleman / The Airborne Toxic Effect / The Aggrolites / Vilma Diaz at the Sunset Junction Festival (Day 2) in Los Angeles, CA. August 19, 2007.

Day two of the Sunset Junction Street Festival gave attendees the opportunity to take in a variety of different music in a very short span of time. From the DJ Eric Coleman spinning music from numerous genres, to The Airborne Toxic Effect playing their fast-paced punk rock, to The Aggrolites playing their brand of "dirty reggae" in front of a dedicated crowd of fans, to being able to catch Vilma Diaz and y La Sonora starting their own dance party with their energetic cumbia music, today was the concert Hometown Buffet of the summer, without the soft serve ice cream and consequently, the nighttime gas (so far). It was a feel good day of music and the sunny skies were perfect for getting some great pictures of the artists playing today. While I'm normally and admittedly pretty long-winded, I'll let the pictures tell the majority of the story today.


Because of my foray into country music and pop rock a couple years ago that continues today, it'd been a while since I had seen a DJ perform. Scratch DJs normally perform before many a hip-hop concert that I used to frequent, but when you're attending shows where you're much more likely to see a cowboy hat than a fresh New Era cap, the DJs are few and far between. I stopped by DJ Eric Coleman as he was spinning house beats with classic R&B, funk, soul, and even trance music. I was hoping that Coleman would be a scratch DJ, an art that I truly appreciate, but even though he didn't do a Blake Lewis impression on the 1's and 2's (and 3's and 4's), his mixing of feel good tracks was a good way to start out the day. People were dancing around the stage and just vibing out to the tracks he was playing, but I was left wishing that he would have been a little more hip-hop, but that was a little unfair of me.


I ran over to another stage to catch The Airborne Toxic Effect, which was a huge change of pace from the music Coleman was spinning just a few blocks over. TATE was extremely energetic in their performances of their brand of punk rock, despite the fact that they categorize themselves as "ghettotech" on MySpace (now that I know that word, I will now only respond to when addressed as "Ghettotech"). Much like The Aggrolites, who would steal the afternoon following TATE's set, the band moved all over the stage throughout their performances, not caring that it was mid-afternoon, as they played with all the intensity and passion of a headlining act.


While most tracks were fast-charging and hard hitting rock tracks, TATE also utilized a violin that gave a different dimension to their sound. It was pretty cool to see how the band members would exchange instruments and were equally capable on whatever instrument they ended up playing for that song.


It was a very engaging performance because everyone - keyboard, drums, bass, guitar, vocals - just absolutely got down and was sweating up a storm on stage (really sweaty, like Gatorade commercial sweaty). They gave the crowd a ton of energy and the crowd gave it right back, exactly how a show should be.



Next up was The Aggrolites, a band that I was excited about checking out for the first time live today. They refer to their sound as "dirty reggae" and really, that's exactly what it is (What up, Xtina! Wanna get DIRRRTYYYY!!! It's about time for my arrival!!! *slaps his ass*... Ok, no one wants to see that, even my mom... especially my mom). Their reggae sound hits a little bit harder than a Bob Marley "One Love, One Heartttttt, let's get together and feeeeeeeeeel alrightttttttt," which I think is part of what makes it dirty. What also makes it dirty is that Jesse Wagner has a voice that would be equally suited for Ska or laid back punk rock as it is for this dirty reggae. Whatever dirty reggae is, it was the perfect laid back, yet funky sound for a hot summer day in LA. Luckily, dirty doesn't entail smelly (nor entail everyone blazing up in the audience, which would have been ok actually), because otherwise I would have left.


A fan in the audience told me that The Aggrolites literally run around the stage non-stop during their shows and that it was going to be a challenge for me to capture them ever standing still. He said that I'd "lose track of them" because all of them would be moving independent of one another on the stage, but it couldn't be that tough, right? After taking nearly 100 pictures and missing over 50% of the time, he was right. I have never seen a band run around the stage and be as active as The Aggrolites were today. I found myself trying to anticipate their movements so that I could get a good picture of them and luckily, I succeeded a few times, but the number of shots I have that are just blurs of the sides of people's faces are actually pretty funny for me to review.


With their driving basslines and very full vocals from lead singer Jesse Wagner, the band had the audience at "hello" ("You...complete... me... " *wipes a tear* Damn you, Jerry Maguire...always making me cry and then making me want to use a hot oil treatment just because I like them). Fans pressed up against the press pit walls were enthusiastically screaming back during call and response portions of different songs and I couldn't help but get into the music even though I didn't even know the words because the energy coming off stage was just unreal.



Keeping the mood up was the smooth transitions between tracks that melded one song into the next. Because of their style of music and because the fans got so engaged with each song, I thought this was a great way for The Aggrolites to arrange their set. By rarely stopping, the band just kept the outdoor party going and the crowd was moving non-stop. Even 4-5 songs in, all the band members were still running and hopping around, ignoring popped guitar strings, their very sweaty jumpsuits (yuck, no doubt some of them were free balling too, which I would do if I was wearing a full jump suit in 90 degree weather), fatigue, or the sun that was just beating down on everyone at this point.


My favorite track of theirs was "Free Time," which is just a perfect summer reggae track to blast while driving by the beach or just staying inside, rolling a doobie with your boys (haha, doobie! Who says that anymore? Me!). With its energetic lead vocals and funky reggae sound, this one was enthusiastically received by the crowd from beginning to end. With all the activity stretching to all four corners of the stage, I don't think it would have mattered what they played because their energy was absolutely infectious, despite the fact that their songs are not necessarily upbeat. Everyone near the stage had a great time, from dedicated fans in the front to passer-bys turned fans who joined at the back.

What made the Sunset Junction Festival so unique was that there were just so many different styles of music on all three stages at all times. What also made the festival cool today was this dog, who looked like Anthony Mason of the New York Knicks.


After checking out just an awesome reggae performance, I got to listen to some cumbia that really had the crowd moving via Vilma Diaz on my way out of the festival.


How sweet is that? Staff guy was not entertained by me, clearly...


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you are a concert fiend!


you are a concert fiend!


Sounds like a good time, except for the nighttime gas, haha. That dog is awesome. Totally looks like Mason.


Dear Ghettotech,

basically, i could just read what is inbetween the parenthese and i would crack up at your commentary. Again, im impressed that you made it to three (3) concerts in as many days! well done!


nice pics! keep up the good work!

Little Bear

You are the queen of concerts. I've learned more about music from you than I could have ever dreamed. Take me with you my musical genius niece.

Big Bear

I'm the most popular guy at camp because of you. You are our morning fix,better than Starbucks. Keep it up . Your reviews start our work day,


Wow GT, I'm still trying to figure out the motivation behind those jumpsuits, So over matchy-matchy outfits. Nice to see there was some cumbia there. You're probably the first to even mention a genre outside of top 40, punk/rock, r&b cliches. Not only are you a good writer, you don't discriminate haha. Kisses!


Does anyone else think that one guy from the Aggrolites looks like Kevin Bacon, sorta? Am I crazy? Also, love the doggie. So cute....

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