It’s an unspoken rule of most music festivals: Sunday’s the day to let it all hang out. When security’s lapsed and staff is tough to track down, it means the run’s been good, and the folks that made it happen have let their hair down – just in time to fully indulge in the final hours of their handiwork.
All photos by Owen Ela
Walking into the sprawling finale of Filter’s four day Culture Collide Festival – the S-O-TERIK Block Party – seemed like a descent into hipster Hades. Chaos ruled. Parking was virtually impossible; forcing hoardes of Jeffrey Campbell-clad chicas to clomp long miles out of residential zones toward Taix, the festival’s epicenter. Yet after dropping a fiver in a bucket (for the benefit of 826LA), attendees were let loose on world of almost archaically accessible performances. Growing up in the era of red tape, Ticketmaster and “that’s not the right wristband,” this hippielike freedom gave the whole experience a tinge of danger, of breakin all the rules in the name of music.
Which makes dancing like a merry fool all day totally justifiable.
This Hungarian indie-glam outfit is well named. Though they weren’t rockin a theramin, the retro synth sounds were front n’ center. The crowd was thin and transient for these guys, given all the action on the outside stages – a shame, since they seemed like sweethearts. A little warning: this group is much better experienced from the right side of stage…farther away from the frenetic bass player, who pulls focus no matter what. Maybe Flea can get away with that, but a baby band should strike a better balance.
If you’ve ever written off of Montreal’s live style as pretentiously abstruse, maybe they’re worth a closer look. From a few rows in, you might be swept up in the spell of this somewhat haughty, deeply magical group, and really fall in love.
Due to the lax nature of the evening, cramming up close to the stage was a piece of cake – even with a child on your shoulders. One such child (on Dad’s shoulders, I suspect) often stole the show with his enormous grin and full-bodied fist pumping. Perhaps it was the presence of delicate youth that made the potentially rowdy crowd get down while respecting each other’s space – a highly unusual occurrence in a festival environment. There was even a semi-protective giggle that passed through the first few rows when the band’s performance art troupe emerged, stroking their cartoonishly eroticized bodysuits for “Plastis Wafer.”
Through ‘hits’ and non-hits, of Montreal gave an energetic, severely cool and shockingly friendly performance. Their usual wild eye candy was present: a Luchador battle, a sort of double-decker flying beast during the always excellent “Oslo in the Summertime,” confetti and encore balloons, stage-diving unitard men and so forth. But perhaps the most enjoyable part of the evening were the shared smiles between band and audience as everyone – including that adorable kid – bounced along to the beat.
“Thanks for coming over and seeing us three ridiculous people,” quoth the singer of The Wombats – a post punk trio in the vein of 2 Door Cinema Club and Bloc Party.
After of Montreal’s main course of artsy brainfood, a good bit of British new wave felt like a truly tasty dessert – and a way to get any last bits of dancey jitters out. If that wasn’t enough, drummer Dan Haggis graciously invited everyone back to their bunks to “hop on the bad foot and do the wrong thing,” which hopefully worked out for at least one of the Campbell-clad lasses in the house.
Their performance was as ballsy and bold as the festival itself, ending the evening on a high-note of saucy swagger, all in the name of fun.
All photos by Owen Ela