As Fall creeps in slowly and the feel of summer still trying to hold on tight, Moon Block Party called the Pomona Fairplex home over the weekend as one of the last “summer” music festivals of the year. With three years under their belt, it was more than an intimate party for art and music lovers alike, but a celebration of an event that has carried itself with open arms to all within the Southern California DIY community. Remnants of their sister festival, Desert Daze, accented itself throughout the grounds with make-shift moon art instillations and bungalow type teepees for fans to hide in as the sun beat down on concert-goers. What was beautiful to say the least was the presence of such a variety between the nineteen bands featured.
The golden number was three in regards to stages out on the field: Moon Stage, Party Stage and Block Stage. Corners, a four person band currently nestled in Echo Park, took to the Party Stage and unleashed an assortment of songs off their newest album, Maxed Out On Distractions, from Lolipop Records. The blend of erratic dancing from the crowd against lead vocalist Tracy Bryant’s sad lyrics from “We’re Changing” and its cool bass riffs helped throw the festival into the right mellow mood.
Back on the Block Stage, JJUUJJUU rocked out a soundful set with Moon Block Party’s own curator, Phil Pirrone, on guitar getting lost in the music throughout their set. His wife and curating partner, Deap Valley drummer, Julie Edwards continued to support her husband and the band by dancing away to his erratic guitar peddle episode during “G 4 A G.” Concert goers immersed themselves into the music, some even going as far as claiming JJUUJJUU’s sound to be a “spiritual experience”. Others would blame other recreational substances to be enhancing such an experience, but surely the option is up to you.
A much larger name stood out amongst the list of DIY/underground acts that formed the line up. Somehow making their way across over five thousand miles from the United Kingdom to Pomona, Band of Skulls graced Californians with their enchanting presence. Although continuous technical sound difficulties popped up throughout their lead vocalist and guitarist, Russel Marsden’s wistful vocals still rang out from the Moon Stage. Opening with songs off of their first album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, with “Light of The Morning,” the trio still made sure to sprinkle their set the best they could with some new material from their latest album, Himalaya. Although most felt their set should have been pushed to a later time slot due to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club unfortunately needing to drop from the festival due to unforeseen circumstances, it was still a pleasure to have them.
Deap Vally was putting on a “rehearsal” of their own as drummer, Julie Edwards was busy beforehand helping prepare and orchestrate the festival with her husband, Phil Pirrone. The crowd pressed tightly together, forming the best crescent moon they could in order to get a solid look at the twosome. Girl power seeped through the pores of the heavily-noted female crowd, especially when Deap Vally dished out a treat to the crowd with a new song, “Bubble Baby.” A small young girl sat on her parental’s shoulders, drumming in the air, trying to mimic Edward’s every move. Lead vocalist and guitarist Lindsey Troy’s soulful vocals captivated everyone within earshot as their set proved to be just as colorful and enticing as anticipated.
Band of Skulls, unfortunately, weren’t the only ones who were hit by unfortunate sound difficulties. Black Lips took to the Moon Stage as well, causing an uproar amongst the fans of the garage rock, “flower punk” Atlanta bad. Festival goers from all directions ran towards the main stage just in time to catch “Sea of Blasphemy.” Guess one could say the technical difficulties helped make their sound more “raw” and contributed to their “Beach-Goth” sound, but all in all nothing mattered once “O! Katrina” made its rounds. The whole crowd erupted singing along with the Black Lips boys as the evening drew closer to an end with their sharp guitar riffs ringing in the air.
As the California sun had set, the Black Angels turned it up a notch by being bathed in a series of psychedelic projections. As repetitive as it sounds the continuous challenge at the Moon Stage remained their technical sound difficulties causing a severely muddy bass. Nevertheless, in Moon Block Party spirit the intimate music festival still strived on enjoying countless Black Angels songs including, “Entrance Song,” “Bad Vibrations” and of course, “Young Dead Men.” Looking like they were indeed playing inside of a multi-colored lava lamp, The Black Angels provided a show that was aesthetically pleasing than most that evening.
Bruised hearts were still sore and recovering after word was released in regards to Black Revel Motorcycle Club dropping due to drummer Leah Shapiro’s declining health issues
days before the Moon Block Party. Nevertheless, Spoon, with their catchy-hook forte, made it a point to send out positive vibes to BRMC before thanking every one for supporting the previous bands from throughout the day. The Moon Stage erupted with the band’s indie pop sound from their 2002 record, Kill the Moonlight with their track, “Small Stakes.”
For the most part, those unfamiliar with Spoon seemed to try to keep up with the band. It wasn’t until half way through once the boys go to their popular radio hit, “The Way We Get By” did the light bulb click on who and how big Spoon actually is or was (depending on what you consider large and in charge, musically speaking). By the time Spoon was at their encore with their radio hit, “I Turn My Camera On,” it was safe to say that this intimate music festival took it as a win. The amount of support from larger name bands participating in a festival with more of a grassroots tie into it proved that the music itself will always come first rather than flashy lights and swanky gimmicks. With that said, mission accomplished Moon Block Party.
Spoon Set List:
1. Small Stakes
2. Rent I Pay
3. Rainy Taxi
4. Don’t You Evah
5. The Ghost of You Lingers
6. The Way We Get By
7. Got Nuffin
8. Do You
9. I Summon You
10. The Beast and Dragon, Adored
11. Inside Out
12. Don’t Make Me a Target
13. The Underdog
14. I Turn My Camera On
Check out other pictures from the festival:
Christian Bland and the Revelators