Echo Park Rising 2019, Day 1: The Shakes, Goon and finding the mellow and the not-so

The Shakes at the Echo (Photo by Bronson)

The first day of Echo Park Rising is always like doing calisthenics and stretches before the big game. Not all of the festival’s 30-plus venues that host music were activated yet on Thursday night, but the ones that were offered tasty fare in an atmosphere that could be considered mellow compared to what Echo Park will feel like on Saturday night.

Here are some highlights:

Band most likely to play the El Rey in the next year or so

O.C. quintet the Shakes make polite, shimmering indie-pop, and their music’s poignancy was not lost on their fans at the Echo, where they drew the biggest crowd of the night. A sizable group of female fans were up front to sing along as the Shakes started their set with a pre-recorded message about gun violence before segueing into music. Included was their new single “I Just Want to Feel Something,” as well as “Heaven Doesn’t Seem So Far Away,” set closer “Golden State of Mind” and others from last year’s “With Every Moment” EP. “We’ve been coming to Echo Park Rising for years,” singer Sean Perry said, “and we’re happy to be on this stage kicking off the weekend.”

Best place to get your mellow on

Intimacy rules in the 70-capacity room at Sticky Rice, newly remodeled and now home to a small bar. Derde Verde’s new single “Waking the Dream” sounded heavenly there, as will much of the songwriterly fare scheduled there the rest of the weekend. But the stage is small, as Bird Concerns singer-bassist Marcus Buser was reminded. Straining to hold a big note to finish an excellent set, Buser tumbled backwards into the drum kit.

Most clueless neighbor

Echo Park Rising was barely two hours old when someone living near Spacedust phoned in a noise complaint. Even though the resident had lived there for four years, the complainant claimed to know nothing about the festival. (Spacedust has hosted shows for several years.) LAPD arrived, conversations were had and Billy Changer went on a little late.

Best place to get loud and proud

The lineup at American Barbershop was packed with take-no-prisoners rockers, highlighted by the very physical performances of frontwomen Amber Bollinger (Broken Baby), Caroline Heerwagen (Bone Acre) and Sophia Anita Reyes (New Evil). The latter, especially,  displayed some stage moves that are equal parts modern dance and martial arts. Ever get physically tired just watching somebody?

Best way to know you’re in Echo Park

That would be to hear Goon, who closed out the night at the Echo. “Heaven Is Humming” is the name of the album they released last month, an amalgam of grunge, shoegaze and alternative rock that would have made them college radio heroes back in the day. Their set, with its huge swells of guitar, did it justice.

||| See: Complete and updated set times for Echo Park Rising.

For more photos and assorted video clips, follow us on Instagram.