“We’re celebrating Woodstock right here in Los Angeles!” American labor leader Dolores Huerta said when she addressed the crowd in the late afternoon. She shared a message of unity and power that got everyone’s attention. She inspired the crowd to take action by being counted in the upcoming census. “What they didn’t have in Woodstock was ‘action,'” she continued, sharing that one person counted has the potential to bring in an extra $2,000 for their community. “Raise your hand if you know a Mexican! Raise your hand if you like a Mexican. Like in Woodstock we’re talking about love and unity. Respecting everyone regardless of their skin, ethnic group, sexual orientation, rich or poor. We’re celebrating women! We will never have peace in the world until women take power.” She finished with asking the crowd, “Who’s got the power?!” Which ended with everyone joining in chant, “Si Se Puede!”
The inaugural festival, produced by Yola Mezcal co-founders, Yola Jimenez, Lykke Li and Gina Correll Aglietti, also marked the 99th anniversary of the passing of a women’s right to vote. The recently-overhauled Los Angeles Historic Park hosted two stages of live music from all female-fronted acts, Mezcal cocktail bars and an art installation with various flags to be auctioned off in support of the ACLU.
The crowd skewed mostly female and LGBT, all of whom had the “effortlessly cool” style down. Attendees sipped their female-curated Yola Mezcal drinks, which were named after different artists’ songs like Lykke Li’s “So Sad, So Sexy.” The lines never let up for the bar and food, both of which were priced on the higher end for a DIY festival. However, a percentage of ticket proceeds and sales went to support groups like the DTLA Women’s Shelter and the ACLU.
There were several highlights from the female performers, including Lykke Li’s entire set which ended in a dance party on stage to “I Follow Rivers” and her second encore song of Usher’s “U Got It Bad” before the sound cut off. It was clear the party wasn’t ready to end at 10:00 p.m.
“It’s a dream for me to play here tonight, I wanna make sure everyone is really stoned and high,” she said before starting power-pop anthem “Just Like a Dream.” The crowd sang along to ballads like “So Sad, So Sexy” and squealed in excitement for “Little Bit.” “I’m gonna play a really depressing song.. it’s for all the women who keep fucking up…” she introduced “Bad Woman.” The bass dropped low for “Deep End” and she took a hit from a joint and swig from her mezcal bottle. She taught the crowd the choreography for “Sex Money Feelings Die” which had everyone moving their hands from their hips to the air. A soulful song about not wanting to be anyone’s booty call, “2 am” had all eyes on Lykke Li. She led everyone in a “Fuck Trump” chant before coming out for a surprise encore.
Fans cheered for Courtney Love as she took the stage with The Chateau Band. Courtney Love’s set was full of one-liners and laughable interactions with the audience. When a fan shouted “I love you!” she retorted, “I love me too!” which is not the response fans normally hear. This was a pretty special act, as Love played Hole songs she hadn’t sung in over 25 years including “Hit So Hard.”
“I don’t wanna blow the button on this couture” she said while taking off her jacket as the crowd watched amused. “Yea we all have a stripper past deal with it!” she continued as the jacket came off. “I wrote this song when I was 4” she joked before going into the grungy “She Was Asking for It.” “Ever had sex sober? Flown economy sober?” and “I shot my larynx trying to control men” were just a couple more crowd comment highlights. Fans sang along to “Doll Parts” and were delighted with her cover choices of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” and Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Killing Moon.” She left the crowd with some final words of wisdom: “Go drink your mezcal while you can and take care of your teeth!”
Cat Power’s set was filled with soft and slow songs and covers, including a cover of Jackson Browne’s “These Days,” and Dead Man’s Bones “Pa Pa Power.” “LA I love you…it’s all gonna fall to shit soon anyways,” front woman Chan Marshall said before playing the folky title track of their latest album, “Wanderer.” The set was pleasant, but perhaps not as attention commanding as some of the others. Incorporating older hits like “Sea of Love” and “The Greatest” would have been nice additions to the set.
Earlier in the day, the electronic duo Empress Of played to a packed in Del Rio stage as the crowd danced in the sun. Songs like “I don’t even smoke weed” had everyone dancing and swaying along to the bumping bass and calypso inspired synths. The singer glided across the stage when she wasn’t behind the synths. Pop anthems like “on the outside looking in” had some singing along. Everyone cheered for “Women is a Word,” which fit into Yola Dia’s theme brilliantly.
Kelsey Lu showed off her talents by played the cello on stage and her quirky side by crushing lays chips over her head. Her music is hard to categorize, as songs in genres from ambient chamber pop to R&B emanated from the stage. Her soulful, jazzy set was accentuated with her sparkling pasties, ripped jeans and thick braids. She sang some appreciation to the fans before saying “goodbye for now.”
People ran toward the stage for Megan Thee Stallion ‘s booty-clapping set. She performed over her tracks, focusing more on shaking her booty rather than singing or rapping until the sound cut out on one of the songs. The crowd got into her set, joining in on the twerking and cheering for songs like “Simon Says” and “Big Ole Freak.”
Cupcakke’s set was delayed due to her transportation issues. “I missed my flight y’all… I had to suck dick at the airport,” she joked. She was only able to perform “Deep Throat,” but the crowd ran up to join in.“If you don’t know how to deep throat shut the fuck up!” she said getting the crowd hyped up. Her bondage-style top allowed her to flash the audience freely who cheered along.
Electronic artist Sophie got the EDM dance party started with her early afternoon set. She played her remixes of Kim Petras and more while smoking on stage.
In general, set times ran ahead of schedule up until the headliner. Long lines for food and drink were an issue, but the show didn’t appear to be oversold as there was plenty of opportunity to catch your favorite artist up front. Yola Dia promised a day of unity and femme power and delivered as everyone went home feeling inspired in some way.
All Photos by Boston Lynn Schulz