Pop may be the thing of now, but rock and jazz are proving to be timeless as fans and music lovers flocked to Pasadena for the second annual Arroyo Seco weekend. With Jack White and Neil Young headlining day one and Robert Plant and Kings of Leon day two, there was a variety of different fans ranging from diaper-clad toddlers to people who attended Led Zeppelin’s 1977 concert at the Forum, all excited to see their favorite bands and hear the hits.
Even with gates opening at 12 pm, crowds began to line around 10:30 am, noting Goldenvoice’s new way of funneling people into the event, which was held on the golf courses next to the Rose Bowl. After entering, crowds dispersed, heading to the three different stages to set up their beach chairs and blankets, conveniently marked far back from the stage so those who wished to stand closest to the stage could do so. Food and drink were lined up around the three areas, featuring local LA eateries such as Barrel and Ashes, Sumo Dog, Beer Belly, Donna Jean, and Vegan eats like Cena Vegan. You could probably spend most of your time and money just trying every booth, but really, the music is what you really came for. Or maybe the food – no one is judging you.
Starting the early sets were Maxim Ludwig on the Sycamore stage. Dressed in a linen suit, Ludwig turned up the heat with his band and sultry voice, while the temperature began to increase with the summer Californian sun.
On stage, Willow played Typhoon, a post pop band from Portland Oregon. They mentioned that they finally got to visit LA’s famous Venice Beach, with a crowd member yelling that it was overrated. On the main stage, the Oaks, Seu Jorge from Brazil got started a bit late due to technical difficulties but got the party going with one of his band member’s beatboxing as he jammed on his electric guitar.
Attendees took breaks between to enjoy some of the themed cocktails offered like the Marilyn Muleson, made with Hendricks’s Gin, Lime, top Hate Ginger Beer, activated Charcoal, and Lavender, topped with a lavender bud. Beer flowed freely for a mere $10 a cup, keeping fans going as they walked between the three areas.
Next on Stage Willow was Jeff Goldblum and band, who did famous jazz covers. Most of his set was spent doing Jurassic Park trivia with the crowd, who didn’t seem to mind. On stage Sycamore was Texas band Shakey Graves, who drew a big crowd of fans and newcomers, nodding and dancing to his songs.
The day moved on and on stage Sycamore played folk duo The Milk Carton Kids, with their sweet voices perfectly harmonizing. They talked about their latest album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I didn’t Do, as a moment in time for them, allowing them to share their experiences with their fans.
Other bands that played included Scottish band Belle and Sebastian who jumped around stage and marveled at the number of locals from Pasadena. He laughed at how they all looked hammered but thankfully it was only a short walk home for them. He said looking out into the crowd that was reminiscent of 1979 with all the 70’s inspired outfits and that 1979 was a good year for rock in the UK.
With the sun slowly setting, the crowds made their way towards the Oaks, watching a blue countdown on both big screens, with a digital Jack White crossing the screen everyone once in a while. Attendees would cheer every time this happened.
Finally appearing on stage in a blue suit, White played while the screens, keeping with the blue theme, replayed with a distorted filter. He ran through his songs, not really playing much from his latest album, “Boarding House Reach” and not really addressing the crowd too much.
After White, the sets included The Specials on Sycamore and Gomez on Willow before headliner Neil Young came out on the Oaks. In the darkness, the crowds pushed towards the front, as Young played his set, opening with a long and masterful guitar solo.
Relaxed and laid back, Day One went off with few hiccups, many happy with the new layout and line up. Family friendly with great food and drinks, Arroyo Seco got the weekend off to a good start with many attendees excited for the next day and the bands it would bring.
But how would Day Two compare?