LIVE REVIEW: Lolipalooza @ The Echoplex (Echo Park, CA)

After opening a Los Angeles storefront for their mostly cassette-based label last summer, the founders of Lolipop Records clearly wanted to go big in terms of celebrating its birthday. Thus, the first-ever Lolipalooza took over the Echoplex last weekend, flooding the popular venue with stylish music junkies whose passion for dream pop, surf rock, and seventies psych throwbacks clearly matched the label’s own. The all day festival featured over thirty bands, including acts from like-minded labels Burger Records and Pizza Party Music. There were three different stages – one upstairs, one downstairs, and one on the Echo outdoor patio. With the constant stream of live music happening, it was nearly impossible to review each and every wonderful band, but there were some definite standouts.

So Many Wizards, a local four piece with a strange ability to meld surf and shoegaze, played on the dynamic of break-neck cymbal crashes and mellow, jangly guitar, the changes of rhythm within songs adding an overall complexity to their poppy song structure. Of the lyrics I was able to catch, I’m pretty sure I heard the phrase “being fucked by love;” even if it was just my imagination it’s a great summary of their general sound. Wandering to the next stage, I caught a set by Corners, whose surf-tinged synth pop had a dirtier and crunchier spin. Fans from the crowd joined them on stage, shimmying like go-go dancers around the band. Out on the Echo Patio, I was introduced to Adult Books, a lo-fi punk outfit featuring Daniel Quintanilla, one of Lolipop’s founders. Their fast-paced set, which was fed by their exquisite sense of interesting rhythm, got the pizza eating, cat-shirt wearing crowd very riled up. People were crowd surfing and hanging off the poles meant to keep the outdoor tent standing.

One of my personal favorites of the day was  Santa Barbara-based band called Dante Elephante. As a huge fan of 2012 release German Aquatics, I was elated to hear them play sunny, easy-going surf jams like “All the Time,” as well as the record’s title track. Krunch, Rube, Chips, and Johnny, as their names might imply, are pretty laid-back dudes, but they’re also wildly talented musicians with clever and sharp songwriting skills that made for a moving set built upon instantly catchy and hummable guitar licks and lively drums.

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Dante Elephante
Dante Elephante

I made sure to be in the very front row at the outdoor patio for Santoros – I’d been friendly with them ever since my band played a house show with them in Santa Cruz. Santoros has no fewer than seven members and has been gaining fans and notoriety at a rapid pace amongst both Burger and Lolipop Record fans. During conversations with the band members, they’ve mentioned that bands like Shannon and the Clams (who were slated to play later that evening) and The Growlers have influenced them greatly. Their set created a hyperactive energy that rippled through the crowd, causing the packed house to jump, twist, and shake. For their encore song they performed their classic jam “She Doesn’t Love Me Anymore” from 2012 release Ancestros, announcing that a new album is currently underway.

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Santoros
Santoros

As the sun started to set, another Lolipop Record favorite, Froth, played a killer set. Consisting of four members, Froth’s sound is an attractive combination of grunge-rock and lo-fi garage surf music with a hint of sixties pop thrown into the mix. The smooth and deep voice of singer JooJoo Ashworth is a perfect contrast to the gritty, yet crisp sound of the guitar. Although their usual omnichord player Jeff Fribourg was “modeling in Paris” (according to Ashworth) JooJoo’s sister took over and rocked all of his parts. Following Froth were audience favorites Shannon and the Clams, and the special “secret” guest of the evening, Thee Oh Sees. Both bands unsurprisingly delivered incredible, rollicking performances that ended the already stellar evening on an ever higher note. With labels like Lolipop cementing themselves as quirky tastemakers, here’s hoping they’ve got more successful years (and Lolipaloozas!) ahead of them.

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Froth
Froth

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