Whew baby was it hot at Arroyo Seco Weekend on Sunday. One couldn't enjoy a delicious ice cream, because it melted almost as soon as you got it. Despite the heat, it was still a great day of music, albeit a tiring one. Before I get into the top sets, a minor rant. You may notice that nearly all of my top sets are from The Oaks Stage at Arroyo Seco. This is because of a suffocating blanket / chair policy the festival allowed this year which made it nearly impossible to get a good spot at the main stage if you showed up any later than early afternoon. Essentially people rushed to the mainstage early in the day, set up a camp of blankets and chairs and then wondered around the festival, leaving their belongings to hold their spot. The earliest to arrive placed their belongings just 20 feet or so from the main stage.
Basically, you needed to decide if you wanted a good spot at the main stage as soon as you arrived for the day. If you didn't care about having a good spot at The Oaks Stage, the rest of the festival was fantastic. On Saturday, we bounced around stages and found it was easy to get a decent spot with an unobstructed view of the stage if we arrived 15 - 30 minutes before a set. However, if you wanted to see someone at the main stage you needed to get there early if you wanted to guarantee a spot with an unobstructed view. On Sunday, we opted for a good spot at The Oaks, so we arrived at 2:30 p.m. and basically held fort all afternoon through the heat. Sitting in the sun, sweating and not being able to leave to eat or drink made for a miserable wait between sets, but besides for this one, albeit large issue, Arroyo Seco Weekend was a great time. Hopefully going forward Arroyo Seco Weekend finds a way to balance the people who want to bring chairs and camp out at one spot, with the rest of the crowd who want to be able to move around without having to worry about obstructed views during the headliners. It's also worth noting that the space issue was similarly pervasive in the VIP area. In fact, it was so bad we didn't even bother going to the VIP area at Arroyo Seco Weekend on our second day there. Now that we've covered the bad, let's move on to the really good, here are my top five sets from Arroyo Seco Weekend's closing day.
It an unexpected surprise, Weezer came out dressed as Guns N' Roses, immediately reminding fans that no matter how many times you've seen Weezer, they are always a blast. They are a fun festival band with a ton of hits that everyone can sing along to. During their set, the band treated the crowd early and often with "Hash Pipe", "My Name Is Jonas" and "Pork and Beans" to kick off the show. Weezer proved that even after being around for years, they are still popular, with younger and older crowds alike. Weezer's set was also the first show of the day where the temperature drop could be felt, making it easier to sit back and enjoy their set. Plus, they had an awesome cover of Outkast's "Hey Ya!" a hit that always plays over well with a festival crowd.
These guys are going to be something. They have an intoxicating energy and a sound that is instantly likeable. If you haven't listened to them, I highly suggest checking them out on Spotify or if you have a chance, going to a live show. The group reminded me of Fitz & the Tantrums or Edward Sharp & The Magnetic Zeroes as they seem to create a fun energy you can almost feel while watching their set. The picture above is from their sporadic decision to perform out in the crowd and suffer in the heat with the rest of us: props to Magic Giant for that. At the beginning of their set, it didn't seem like a ton of the crowd knew who they were, but by the end, they had definitely won over a bunch of new fans.
Arroyo Seco Weekend was a Hometown show for Michael Fitzpatrick (Fitz) and Noelle Scaggs and they definitely brought the energy to put on a great show. They have a ton of catchy hits that had the crowd dancing and singing through their entire set. They chose their hometown show for their first live performance of “Fool,” which was awesome to see and they played a long list of their biggest hits including: "Out of My League", “Handclap”, "Moneygrabber", and "The Walker". This was my fifth time seeing Fitz & the Tantrums and no matter how many times I’ve seen them, I enjoy their show each time.
Despite performing during what was probably the hottest show of the day, it was still a damn good time. I've always liked The Mowgli's, but when performing live, they take it to another level. They closed out their set with crowd favorites "I'm Good" and "San Francisco" which had the whole crowd singing along, but even when they were playing lesser known songs, they had the crowd on their feet and dancing. If you like bands like Smallpools, Grouplove or Saint Motel, I suggest you listen to your new favorite band, The Mowgli's.
I am probably overly biased here but The Shins f'n rocked and were clearly the best show of the day. For me, music festival sets don’t get much better than The Shins at sunset. It was a perfect set, mixing the best of their new Heartworms material ("Name for You", "Half A Million", "Painting A Hole") with their classics. When they came out to "Caring Is Creepy" and "Australia" I knew it was going to be an awesome show. It legitimately seemed like James Mercer & Co. were having a good time and happy to be there, joking with the crowd and jamming out. The best part of the set was the encore, which only about half of the crowd stuck around for. The Shins closed out with "The Fear" (featuring Los Lobos), "New Slang" (so good!) and an awesome inclusion of "American Girl" in the middle of "Sleeping Lessons.” I've always liked The Shins and have seemed them perform multiple times, but this was my favorite time seeing them live - a perfect way to end Arroyo Seco Weekend.
Arroyo Seco Weekend was a great time overall! The festival had great food, great drinks, good music, easy transportation and overall a fun attendee experience. With the blankets/chairs being the only major complaint from attendees, we’d say that Goldenvoice did an extremely impressive job for the festival’s first year. We hope they will implement some changes to correct the situation next year, but regardless, we are definitely looking forward to attending future Arroyo Seco Weekend’s in Pasadena.