Culture Collide: Hooked on the Wombats, neon dreams and other block party moments in Echo Park


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Random encounters of the festival kind from the fourth evening of Filter magazine’s Culture Collide in Echo Park:

Highlight of the night

Although this year’s Red Bull Soundstage seemed as if it had shrunk since last year’s block party, the Wombats played their set as if they were headlining a large amphitheater. The U.K. trio brought a sense of humor, rampant energy and batch of sharp songs like “Jump Into the Frog” to a crowd that grew thicker by the minute in Taix’s parking lot. (This was impressive since it seemingly thinned out after Of Montreal’s set over at the main stage.) Hand-clapping even ensued without request during “Kill the Director” just before the crowd (including spectators from the beer garden) shouted “There is no Bridget Jones” in unison.

A surfing Spider-Man, a pair of bells and a Morning Parade to close out the evening:

Although there were two stages for block party attendees to bounce between, the main stage put on by S.O.TERIK and the side stage put on by Red Bull seemed to boast mostly U.S. artists, aside from a couple of Swedish artists (and the Wombats). Icona Pop, who got people jumping Saturday night in the Echoplex, kicked off the main stage party with a bouncy set. A couple hours later, Niki & the Dove reprised their performance from Saturday night with vocalist Malin Dalstrom’s wardrobe neon as ever now that she was outside.

But the outrageous colors Niki & the Dove wore were tame to what Of Montreal would bring on stage. Boasting their colorful cast of deformed characters, faceless king puppets and a Spider-Man who crowd surfed all the way back to the back of the massive crowd, Kevin Barnes and friends made Echo Park feel a lot bigger than its actual size.

And for those who chose to get some sun earlier in the day, cool, breezy funk-filled sets were provided by Brooklyn’s synth-pop Class Actress and L.A.’s very own Poolside, who were filling in last minute for Brazil’s Bonde do Rolé, who had to cancel because of visa issues.

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Over at the Red Bull Soundstage, it started out nice and slow with Nashville’s Colorfeels, who made quite the impression when they closed out the Taix Lounge on Thursday night. However, their outstanding musicianship was magnetic and pulled people in to get ready for New Orleans’ Royal Teeth. But beer garden participants didn’t really turn around to this side stage until DIIV commanded the stage with hair tossing and guitar shredding. It was a bodacious pairing as the sound roared but the sun set – just in time to set the ambiance for School of Seven Bells to take the stage.

The NYC dream-pop band played a strong set, which was almost hypnotizing at this point as stage lights began to come in to play and the breeze brushed against everyone’s shoulders. Even two years after Claudia Deheza left her sister to front a two-piece (expanded to four live), SIIVB’s vocals sounded full as ever, and although the band’s sound has morphed into a more dance-floor-friendly sound, festival goers applauded every note.

While people were wandering outside, bands and fans were mingling inside Taix. There were nine hours of music in the restaurant, after all. Much like the party outdoors, the walls of Culture Collide’s headquarters also hosted a second chance for fans to see a band they missed earlier in the week. Norway’s Marit Larsen was sweet as afternoon tea; Singamore’s MONSTER CAT brought their ’50s and ’60s rock ’n’ roll back to the lounge; the Standards from Thailand got rowdy again; Denmark’s Terminal turned up their synths up all the way this time; and Gold Fields brightened the room up with their electro-pop.

There were a few new faces to the lineup including Canada’s Half Moon Run, and L.A.’s Tapioca & the Flea – who not only played CicLAvia in Chinatown earlier in the day but filled in for Brazil’s Optic Yellow Felt. However, the biggest newbie in town was U.K.’s Morning Parade who closed the front lounge out with style. Currently touring with the Wombats, it was easy to see and hear why festival participants stood in line even when the room was at capacity. Fire marshals may have shown up to regulate but it didn’t affect Morning Parade’s strong set full of anthemic pop- rock choruses – making it a show to remember.

Photos by Laurie Scavo