Summer is drawing to a close and that means it’s time for LA’s favorite DIY festival, Echo Park Rising. There may not be any big name headliners, but LA Weekly named it “LA’s Best Music Festival” last year for exactly that reason. The relaxed anything goes atmosphere is a welcome change from the overly-curated experience of many other festivals these days. With more than 300 bands booked to play over four days at venues all across Echo Park, there really is something for everyone at Echo Park Rising. Additionally, most of those bands are local and up-and-coming. However, the three pages of talent on their website can feel a bit daunting, even for seasoned LA concert-goers. So here are our tips on how to have the best weekend ever and hopefully find your new favorite local band.
Echo Park Rising is a Party
Echo Park Rising is as much a block party intended to celebrate the neighborhood as it is a music festival. It started as a tiny pop-up in 2011 after the city of LA shut down the Sunset Junction Music Festival. In keeping with the spirit of Sunset Junction, it’s free and open to all ages. It also features a talent list that aims to be as diverse as Echo Park itself. While there is no shortage of the kind of garage and psych-rock bands you’d expect to find on the East Side, the lineup also includes reggae, latin, folk, pop and lots more. So you can easily go from seeing surf-rock girl band The Aquadolls, to the mask-wearing electronic trio Fartbarf, to wunderkind and lovable indie weirdo, Avi Buffalo, all in the same weekend.
Act Like a Local
Whether you live nearby or had to brave the freeways to get there, Echo Park Rising is a great opportunity to get familiar with Echo Park. You can take kids to a sing-a-long at Masa of Echo Park, get loose at a complimentary introductory pilates class at Club Pilates, hear some crazy stories with BUSted Storytelling at Stories Books and Cafe, or set out to find the hipster craft tables.
While listening to bands, browse the vinyl at Blank City Records and Cosmic Vinyl. Pop into Memento Mori, Echo Park’s beautiful and bizarre curiosity shop, and ask if they’re still offering taxidermy classes. Not only does the music lineup feature overwhelmingly LA-based acts, but every aspect of the fest is designed to highlight all things local. There are a few out-of-towners in the lineup, including Swedish psych-rock band, Dungen, but mostly this is a time for Angelenos to shine. And think about it: if you find your new favorite band this weekend, you can go see them again and again and again if you want. You might even run into them at Trader Joe’s! Isn’t that cool?
Free Your Mind and Follow Your Heart
Did you look through the lineup and realize you have literally never heard of any of the bands playing? Don’t worry! No, you’re not getting older. Yes, the bands are getting more obscure. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a lot of fun. You could easily wander aimlessly through the festival and still have an awesome time. But if a little guidance is what you seek, here are a few tips.
First of all, we recommend trying to catch something at the big outdoor Liberty Stage on Friday or Saturday night. Possibly The Buttertones? Besides that, stroll leisurely through Echo Park and let yourself wander in and out of the many venues participating in the weekend. Maybe you’ll want to catch the highly danceable Boogaloo Assassins at The Echo. And don’t forget about The Echoplex where Meatbodies and The Manx are playing. Stop at the Taix Champagne Room for Brightener, or Little Joy Cocktails to catch No Win and Rufrano. Pop into Spacedust for Billy Changer or Veronica Bianqui. Check out sparkly Polartropica at Trencher or Rudy De Anda at The Lost Knight. Maybe you’ll want to spend your Sunday at The Lost Room to see all the great female-fronted bands that Play Like A Girl LA has curated at their stage. Wherever you decide to roam, know that there’s lots of good music to hear and fun to be had.
Eat, Drink and be Merry
Music festivals have become as much about food as they are about music. Echo Park Rising is no different. Hit up late-night Happy Hour at Mohawk Bend and try their famous buffalo cauliflower. Grab some Chicago deep dish-style pizza from Masa. Have a tasty banh mi sandwich or pho beef tacos from Xoia Vietnamese Eats. Or just let your nose lead you to the most delicious food around. Rest assured, there will be no shortage of fantastic food to keep you energized throughout the weekend. You can also upgrade to VIP tickets for $20-$35, which allow “no wait” bar lines and a limited edition tote bag.
Download the App
It’s 2017, so yes, there’s an app for that! The Echo Park Rising app is the best way to have all the information you want at your fingertips throughout the weekend. There are sections inside the app where you can see lists of the venues involved, bands playing, businesses participating and even the people attending. If you make a profile, you can create a schedule with everything you don’t want to miss. Yes, it’s definitely worth it if you want a more planned experience! And like the website, it’s constantly being updated. So you can check back for more info as the weekend gets closer.
Parking Made Simple
You probably already know that parking is going to be tough this weekend. If you’re driving to Echo Park Rising, we highly recommend finding a parking space using Pavemint. You may find one that’s just around the corner from your venue of choice, or you can opt-out of the Echo Park melee and walk up Sunset from Silver Lake. Either way, we’ve got your parking covered!
(Featured photo of The Aquadolls by Dannybrownejr)