Rounding out the weekend, there are noticeably more bodies on the Sunset Strip than on Saturday.
The fun starts with Big Freedia bringing effortless sass to the table. He rolls deep with a large crew of dancers and a DJ back in the whole performance. His appearance is always half the experience – black and white paisley shirt, long black and red hair extensions, large dangly gold earrings, a black fisherman’a cap, and loose black sweatpants with white horizontal stripes drawing all attention to his rear end. Indeed, homeboy is all about that booty. He calls people on stage to be his dancers and gets crazy for “Azz Everywhere.” Eventually Big Freedia takes to the front of the stage booty bouncing. Onlookers enjoy the party.
Across the way, Big Data takes the West Stage. Minus a few minor sound issues like when project master Alan Wilkis’s mic is not working, they manage to fire up the set. They mostly play over backtracks, but the live drums and bass bring a heavier side to their music making it absolutely delicious and danceable. Though they are fresh on the scene, their music has drawn quite a large following. Their first major single and collaboration with Joywave “Dangerous” has been climbing charts all summer, officially reaching the Billboard number one spot on the Alternative Songs chart this August. The semi-irksome faux “NSA announcer” greeting the crowd throughout the set chimes in every so often to beg people to post parts of their. Big Data experience on their social media profiles. He comes on one last time to introduce the last song could be what some may even call “Dangerous,” and he asks for everyone to send one last tweet about it.
Next up on the main stage, Tove Lo draws even more followers with her sweet demeanor, smooth holy voice, and dancey beats. Her catchy girly lyrics feed broken hearts everywhere with a means of unadulterated expression. People are extremely receptive to her music, regardless of how unfamiliar it is due to the fact that her first album is not even out til next week. The beats are a poignant staple in her music, especially exhibited by toe drum kits in her live set. Her big hit “Habits (Stay High)” has brought her into the limelight this summer. Between songs, she notes that she can smell weed out there, and she’s “usually high all the time, but I’m not on drugs, I’m just in love” to which everyone cheers in anticipation for the upcoming hits she is hinting. The dance party culminates with her performance of her collaboration with Lucas Nord “Run on Love.”
The majority of the crowd sticks around for EDM master Destructo. He certainly brings the heat keeping the high-impact dance workouts in rotation. Passers by even turn around and walk toward the stage like moths to the flame.
Down the way at the Whiskey, hip hop elite Onyx quite frankly shut it down. Having been in the business over twenty years, these veterans know how to rouse a crowd. Fredro Starr makes multiple points to stop the music and “pour one for the homies” recognizing the great rappers who have come before him (i.e. Biggie, Tupac, etc.), and acknowledges the relationship between respecting and appreciating their music. The set does not offer more than yelling over backtracks and a lot of sweat, but their passion is palpable. They still have their touch as the audience hangs on every word.
Outside at the Monster Stage, Mayer Hawthorne pulls the largest crowd yet in this particular space all weekend. Unfortunately, there is a delay in his start because he refuses to be photographed in front of the large Monster logo on the stage’s backdrop. He apparently does not want to be associated with the brand. When he finally does take the stage, however, the irritation toward his attitude fades. His funky soul music carries such a warm energy that it is hard not to dance or sing along. This especially rings true when he plays “Backseat Lover.”
The real reckoning comes at the end of the night. The mayor of West Hollywood comes out to the West Stage to introduce Empire of the Sun; but first, he must remind everyone to have fun, get drunk, get laid, and get home safe. When the intro to “Old Flavours” kicks in, the lead guitarist enters and yells, “LA, make some fucking noise!” Empire always puts on a theatrical show, but being this far into their current tour, they have positively perfected the craft of connecting with and wowing their audience. Feathered headdresses, vinyl leotards, giant skull masks and all, they spare no stretch of the imagination on stage. The music is purely incendiary in so many ways – dance breakouts, fight breakouts, and even continuous sprays of smoke and confetti. The magic of Empire gets real when singer Luke Steele finishes “Tiger by My Side” by smashing his guitar into pieces, and the band abruptly exits. When Nick Littlemore renters the stage, the crowd goes nuts in hopes of hearing more songs. The Aussies squeeze in “Alive” to the crowd’s amusement. One pleased onlooker notes, “That was way better than Coachella!”
Standing on the Shore
We Are the People
Ice on the Dune
I’ll Be Around
Swordfish Hotkiss Night
Walking on a Dream
Tiger by My Side
More photos from Day 2
Empire of the Sun
photo credit Marisa Ficara