PASADENA—Summer means hot dogs, sweltering heat, pools and Rockin’ music festivals across the USA. The new fest on the block is the Arroyo Seco Festival, in its sophomore year, the Brookside golf club, mere steps from the iconic Rose Bowl. On the weekend of June 23 and June 24, the lush and spacious greens welcomed luminaries Jack White, The Pretenders, Robert Plant and Kings Of Leon to name just a few.
Year two of Arroyo Seco Fest was a tremendous success; the vibe catered to all ages, unlike other music festivals. Whether it was grandpa listening to Neil Young or Robert Plant, or your future rock stars creating their own guitars at the KidSpace area. It was a much needed respite for parents who brought their kids.
The weather was pleasant, at least 10 degrees cooler than the inaugural fest. On Saturday, the breakout artist was Pharow Sanders. Another artist on the rise was The Milk Carton Kids. The best performance was The Pretenders. I didn’t even need to ask; eavesdropping in several conversations, EVERONE kept raving about Chrissie Hynde and the boy’s stole the show. Chrissie Hynde’s Pretenders were a blast, in spite of the lack of other original members: It’s hard to overstate just how big a thrill it is to hear “Thumbelina,” which is not a slow song to begin with, go into a long double-time rockabilly coda. Hynde wore a shirt (also for sale in the merch booth) bearing the words “Don’t Pet Me — I’m Working,” and she remains the service animal of our dreams.
Jack White scorched the Sycamore stage, offering new gems, “Connected By Love” was cathartic. He played “Seven Nation Army,” “Steady as She Goes” and other hits ranging from his various side projects.
The most breathtaking site wasn’t the dazzling stage lights- it was the, ‘Visions Of The Future’ provided by JPL. It featured celestial destinations in our Solar System, grounded in real NASA exploration missions. It was trippy, man!
Sunday, in my humble opinion was the stronger day, musically speaking. The Violent Femmes were charming, and energized the throngs of attendees by shouting: We Hate The President. Alanis Morrisete was remarkable. Robert Plant did a few Led Zeppelin songs and Kings Of Leon finished the festival off with style. Way to go Goldenvoice, promoters of Coachella and Stagecoach you hit another home run! Food and a family feel will surely guarantee a third Arroyo Seco Festival.