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OUT TO SEE: MAKE MUSIC PASADENA

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Make Music Pasadena is a free event.  How this is possible is beyond me.  I didn’t even see any donation buckets.

Everyone should thank them for this gift, because Saturday was amazing.

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For me, it started out at the Indie Rock Stage to catch The Happy Hollows (pictured above).  The set was full of jumping joy goodness.  From there I took the ARTS bus to the Shops on South Lake Stage.  There was a group of us heading off to see Tempest.  As we were coming to our stop, a young lady asked me, “Who are you taking photos for?”  We got into a quick conversation about Silver Lake Jubilee.  I asked her what bands she liked most from that weekend.  “Moses Campbell.  I was in the mosh pit.  Summer Twins.  Family of the Year.”  I did a quick scroll through my camera and showed her a Jubilee photo of Family of the Year’s Christina.  Her response, “I love her.  She’s like Lana Del Rey, but prettier.”

Tempest (pictured left) is Gabrielle Wortman.  The sound is sexy electronic beats.  Two five year-old girls danced in front of the stage during the last couple songs.  Kids dancing in front of the stage are always the cutest.  They must think that adults are old and grumpy for not joining them.

Comment of the set:  “We have two more songs for you tonight.”

Okay, so someone is used to playing at 11 p.m. versus 1 p.m.

I just missed the ARTS bus and had to wait around for fifteen minutes for the next one.  This delayed my arrival to the Levitt Pavilion and I was only able to catch a handful of songs from Gaby Moreno (pictured below).  Her songs are a mix of Spanish and English.  I caught the English portion of the set.  She has wonderful Central America inspired music.

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From there it was back to the Indie Rock Stage for Electric Guest (pictured below).  While watching the band set up, I couldn’t help but notice the screams from the crowd.  One fan flagged down the lead singer.  He came over and she handed a portrait that she’d painted of him.  He was very appreciative.  She was overwhelmed.  After taking my photos, I headed backstage and couldn’t help but notice Madeline from Cults singing along to one of the songs.  Their music lights up when the keys are played.

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As for Cults (pictured below), a year ago I saw them in London.  I now got to see them in Pasadena.  Life is sweet.  While I was hanging out backstage, Madeline appeared to wave at me.  My immediate instinct was to look around me.  Was she waving at me or someone else?  I felt a little awkward, not sure if I was being rude for not waving back.  During their set, I noticed her waving to folks in the crowd.  At that point, I felt really stupid.  I should have waved back instead of being rude.

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What I noticed while watching Madeline sing:  she likes to grab the hem of her dress and sing on her tippy toes.

After their set, I said to myself, I have the most awesome life.

It was a fifteen minute speed walk to the Eclectic Stage to catch Grimes (and I was not the only one speed walking).  The place was packed.  It was so packed that some folks were watching the stage from the various levels of a parking garage.  I stood there wondering how in the world I was going to get into the photo/VIP section.  One fellow photographer had mentioned that the security guards in the alley insisted that there was a separate list for folks to get in front of the stage.  He suggested getting in via the Colorado street side.  That simply was not possible.  I ran into a couple other photographers who were also trying to figure out how to get into the photo area.  One said quickly, “Let’s go get in through on the alley side.”  I was a bit nervous after what my fellow photographer had said, but off we went.  We got in without questions.  I think security was pre-occupied as I heard a conversation that went as such, “They said don’t worry about the folks in the parking garage as long as they don’t start throwing anything.”

A handful of folks had taken the initiative to jump into the photo/VIP section – including two guys from Mexico.  (The area was actually a section of a parking lot so there was some nice open space.)  A security guard started going through the area, checking folks out to make sure they had a wrist band (the two guys from Mexico escaped inspection).  This was my first time seeing Grimes.  While talking to one of the photographers during Electric Guest, she mentioned that Grimes was just an awesome individual to photograph.  As her set time approached, I was getting excited.  I was going to get some awesome photos and there was a distinct buzz coming from the crowd.  Who couldn’t get swept up in it all?

Comment of the set:  “I’ve never used this keyboard before, I’ll probably f*!k it up.”

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From the moment she started her set, I kept thinking, she’s unreal.  It was so so good.  If there is an award for Best Set at Make Music Pasadena, she has to win it.

Best fan:  a guy jumped on stage and started dancing away for a couple songs.  Security finally came up to drag him off.  Grimes yelled out a couple times, “It’s all right, he can stay.”  Either security didn’t hear her or they had other priorities, because the fan was taken away anyways.

Best flower:  A black tinged red rose was tossed on stage.

Not so good moment:  the police shut her set down, probably a couple songs early.  I guess there were concerns about the crowd knocking down the security fence.  On her second to last song, Grimes asked her fans, “Please don’t jump forward.  Jump upwards.”  Though the crowd followed her request, it wasn’t enough because her next song was her last.  Bummer.

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I was back speed walking to see Grouplove at the Indie Rock Stage.  Now a group of friends were at the Levitt Pavilion to catch honeyhoney.  I have to admit that this one was a near coin toss decision.  My decision came down to this.  One, I’ve seen honeyhoney a number of times versus only once for Grouplove.  Two, I wrote an article about honeyhoney for Intraffik a couple years back.  And so no disrespect to honeyhoney, as I love them, but it was going to be Grouplove this time.  And what did Grouplove provide:  great music and as a photographer some great photos.  The music started and Hannah immediately had her arms raised as if making the statement that Grouplove was seeing this as their homecoming triumph.

Comment of the set:  “There are so many people here, it’s insane . . . This is a far larger crowd than at El Cid.”

After taking my photos, I decided that instead of hanging out backstage, I was going to go out front.  I had one long walk to make as the crowd was backed up to Raymond.

Moment of the set:  I noticed a father pogo dancing with his young daughter on his shoulders who was also pogo dancing in her own way.  Awesome.

For their last song, they stopped mid song and gave the audience a look that said, CHEER!!!

My suggestion to Make Music Pasadena about the Indie Rock Stage.  In the Raymond intersection, you’re in a music dead zone.  I couldn’t even hear Grouplove.  Throughout their set, I was able to move up and finally left the Raymond intersection.  The sound improved greatly – just moving up the fifteen yards or so.  My recommendation is that when the crowds grow that deep, the various vendors need to shut down their music during a band’s set.  The sound waves crashing into each other cause issues – at least I suspect this is true.

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From there it was back to the Levitt Pavilion to catch Dam Funk (I happened to cross paths with Suzanne Santo so I did get a small dose of honeyhoney).  The crowd was sitting on the grass.  A handful of folks were standing near the stage.  A guy with a “F#!k You” baseball cap kept yelling out, “Sit down up front.”  The folks near the stage weren’t listening.  A call was made for everyone to stand up and come closer to the stage.  Many of us made the move.  The guy with the baseball cap ended up near me and I overheard him saying, “I thought this was just going to be a laid back night, I guess not.

Comment of the set while Dam Funk was setting things up:  “We’re going on in five minutes . . . we’re going on in two minutes.”

The night ended over at Crème De La Crêpe Stage.  There were some street performers in the alleyway that were giving the area a cool vibe.  I was there to catch the twins called Macedo.  Ending my time at the festival with some singer-songwriter music was the perfect way to go.  Nice.

Buses.  Okay, so I mentioned that I barely missed the ARTS bus while trying to get to Levitt.  I also took public transportation to Make Music Pasadena, which meant I needed to take it back.  And would you know it, I just missed the 180 bus back to Glendale, which meant I ended up waiting 30 minutes for the next one.  And when I say I just missed it, I mean that the bus was there and I started running after it and as I was staring into the faces of the folks on the bus (sort of pleading with them to say something), the bus took off and I was stuck.  As one person said to me while I was waiting, “It stinks when you just miss a bus at night.

Amusing.  I do like to make Seinfeld references so here is one.  Also, waiting for the bus were four teenagers (one girl, three guys).  They asked when the bus would arrive.  I told them it would probably be thirty minutes.  After a few minutes, I could hear one of them on the phone, giving out the cross street.  They then took off for Ralphs.  And guess what:  a minute later the bus arrived.  Seinfeld reference:  the Chinese restaurant episode.

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