Sunset Strip Music Festival 2013

Review by JD Alvarez

LP2It was an overcast day in the City of Angels on this 3rd day of August, and it was time for the music world to turn its eyes to the Sunset Strip Music Festival (SSMF)!

The festival was filled with the typical sights and sounds you would see at this type of event. Hot dogs, Pretzels, R&B bumpin’ music in the background along with a sea of tats, piercings and itty bitty bikini tops.

Doug E

The line up was dynamic and eclectic. One of the first bands to play was Street Drum Corp. featuring Adrian Young of No Doubt. The performance was riveting and set the tone for the entire show. Another noteworthy performance was by 80’s R&B / Pop / Rap icons Slick Rick and Doug E Fresh. The crowd was mesmerized by their mish-mash of clever rhymes and display of rapping mastery. The crowd raised their level of approval when Wayne Brady joined them for a couple of songs.

As you strolled down the Sunset Strip, it was like a time capsule, and this trip down memory lane still had some long standing institutions that brought you back to your days of youthful punk adventures. Places like the Whisky A Go-Go, The Roxy and the Key Club; while shadows of places from yesterday like Gazzarri’s and the Coconut Teaser were on everyone’s mind.

As for the performances, there were several that caught the eye of the concertgoers. Bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Finch did well for themselves. The two most notable, were the featured acts of the day; LA’s new favorite sons Awolnation and Linkin Park.

By now, the crowd was starting to fill in, and the size was starting to become daunting for security. It was just starting to become a behemoth!

AN7Awolnation took the stage to a very warm reception from the crowd. Their sound was fresh and the vocals were outstanding. Lead singer Aaron Bruno’s onstage performance was superb.  They played the songs their loyal fans came to hear. Songs like It’s Not Your Fault, The Kid Ain’t Alright, Kill Your Heroes and Sail! If you weren’t a fan before the SSMF, you were after you saw their set.

Next up was LA based Linkin Park; and darkness was in full affect. The crowd was standing room only, well,… figuratively speaking of course. It is safe to say it took on that epic feel. I witnessed concertgoers of all ages attending. The age span was impressive to say the least. I guesstimate the kids attending with their parents started at age 8, and up to 80! They were from all over SoCal, North America… and the planet. I was literally next to a couple from Athens, two vacationers from Tokyo, two sisters from Berlin and three school girls from Moscow. All of them told me the same thing, they were there to see Linkin Park at the SSMF… how crazy is that, right?

LP7Linkin Park came out smokin’ with a sound that is distinctively the LA Alternative, Punk-Rap sound that was long ago started by the Red Hot Chili Peppers right there on the Sunset Strip. Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington were in top form, and displayed their fingerprint of Nu Metal Rap! Their vocal range and musical prowess were on full display. Drummer Rob Bourdon was spot on, guitarist Brad Delson and Dave Ferrell were riveting. Joe Hahn’s performance on the turntables made the sound distinctively Linkin Park.

It was nutty to see how cartoon-crazy their fans were. I saw 8 and 10 year kids literally singing along to every word, of every song. It was as if the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan again. There were scores of women in tears reaching out to their music icons, it was quite the sight.

Shinoda and Bennington thanked the crowd throughout the night as they reminisced how they got their start on the Strip. They even commented how much it was an honor to play to the crowd in front of the Key Club. To everyone’s enjoyment, they played tunes like Paper Cut, Given Up, Once Step Closer, Crawling, Bleed It Out, In the End, Numb, New Divide, Faint and Breaking the Habit. The crowd lost their proverbial minds each time the guys went from  one hit to another! Suffice to say, these cats have come a long way from their 1996 debut album Hybrid Theory.

I will give these guys credit, after the show was over, they were on stage for at least ten minutes and were personally thanking the crowd that was lucky enough to be in the first few rows. As a long time concert reviewer, those are the things I take from shows, how bands treat their fans. Observing their sincere expressions of gratefulness to their followers, it’s no wonder their fans are so loyal.

Hats off to the promoters and the cats from the Mitch Snyder Organization (MSO) for a very well done and memorable festival.

Everyone left the Strip in angst of what next year’s line-up will look like!

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