Sunset Strip Music Festival 2011: Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 8/18-8/20/11

It was three days of nonstop music at the fourth annual Sunset Strip Music Festival.  From the tribute to Motley Crue, to various venues showcasing local and national acts, Los Angeles’s famous boulevard played host to an endless amount of joyous partying. 

On Thursday, August 20, an attendance of media, fans and many notable celebrities, paid tribute to Motley Crue.  Their anticipated performance for day three of the festival would keep die-hard fans waiting, but fans were fortunate to be able to enjoy the solid artist lineups on day one and day two.  Judging by the roster, it was certain that new fans would take to these acts.

After the Motley Crue tribute, music lovers headed over to The Viper Room and The Roxy. Australia’s twin sister act The Veronicas filled The Viper Room to capacity, but it did not seem that people paid too much attention to the lack of ventilation.  No amount of stuffy air could discourage anyone from leaving.  The energy level was off the charts and the first night gave a solid and positive outlook for the rest of the festival.

Shortly later at The Roxy, Los Angeles favorites Nico Vega played mostly older material, but also satisfied their fans with a couple of new songs. Nico Vega’s mesmerizing front woman, Aja Volkman, even crowd-surfed for the audience’s delight.  Unfortunately, a number of their songs sounded similar to the next, but “Beast,” a hard-rocking tune that engages in many a fist pump, clearly showcased Volkman’s energizing stage presence.

Day two began with a little bit of “throwback pop.”  Although the festival was booked with a number of rock acts, San Diego’s Kevin Martin brought some lighter tunes to “On the Rox,” a nightclub that sits comfortably above The Roxy.  Singing melodies that were reminiscent of Manilow and Bacharach, Martin and his band brought some tenderness to the Strip that night.

The Viper Room was pumped full of hard-hitting rock that night, and it was provided by none other than the club’s friendly bouncer.  From bouncer to rock god, Lady Sinatra’s Joe Holiday was nothing short of amazing.  Judging by the amount of rocker chicks and head banging, the band definitely had something solid going on. 

Saturday marked the third and final day of Sunset Strip Music Festival.  Lined with food trucks, an artist autograph booth, and a beer garden, the Street Fest hosted a lineup of bands that rocked east and west outdoor stages.  The clubs (Roxy, Whisky a Go-Go, and Key Club) provided indoor entertainment for those who wanted to split time between shade and sun.

Being able to choose between bands became difficult at times, because it meant either missing the first or last half of a set.  If timed right, a music lover was able to catch a favorite band, visit a food truck and still have downtime.  Fortunately, the clubs aren’t situated too far from the other, but as the evening drew near, the crowds became larger.  The anticipation for the larger acts (Motley Crue, Public Enemy, and Bush) grew as the day progressed.

The punk-pop band, Indians, played to a loving Los Angeles crowd at Key Club.  Led by former front man of the band, The Ringers, Joe Hursley turned up the heat with his colorful Spandex bottoms, tennis shoes and rousing energy.  He is fascinating to watch, singing with heartfelt emotion and moving throughout the club space like he owned it.  His attention-commanding presence could also be due to the incredible physical shape that he is in, as he sometimes does push-ups between songs.

The Roxy Theatre’s lineup was solid.  Los Angeles band Queen Caveat  rocked the Roxy stage with front woman Lauren Little’s ferocious vocals.  The woman is a bit of in-your-face rock goodness.  Although appearing to be pretty and sweet, the attractive blonde proved she was more than just a lovely face.  She spun around and around, a little tornado that wasn’t quite ready to stop.

Canadian cutie, Jordan Cook did not appear to be the skilled rock musician he is on stage at first glance.  As soon as his set started however, any first impressions about his talent were put right back in their place.  The man can play a mean guitar.  Promoting his latest record, Seven Deadly Sins, Cook and his band were displaying what rock music should sound like.  He is engaging from the start, and especially when taking said guitar to the drums and playing both concurrently.

Following Jordan Cook was Las Vegas-based band, Imagine Dragons.  Sounding somewhat similar to fellow Las Vegas counterparts, The Killers, Imagine Dragons stand out in their own musical category.  The beautiful vocals from front man, Dan Reynolds is so honest and truthful in its delivery.  Their music isn’t just laden with keys, guitars and percussion; it is full of emotion that speaks to many.

The Roxy brought San Francisco’s electronic pop duo, The Limousines to the festival for their first time.  Comprised of members Eric Victorino and Giovanni Guisti, the pair who met via the Internet and collaborated musically, rose from the Bay Area’s underground to being signed with Dangerbird Records.  They are entertaining to watch, and the up-and-down jumping of the Los Angeles crowd seemed more rock and roll show than an electronic set.

Chappo, the band from Brooklyn, New York, can be described as “Nirvana meets the Flaming Lips.”  They brought noise, confetti and their unique fashion sense.  Their onstage apparel, which is adorned with feathers, is odd, yet intriguing.  Lead singer Alex Chappo has quite the vocal range and the rest of his band, equally fashionable, all brought something eclectic and a little other worldly to The Roxy that night.

The outdoor entertainment included east and west stages that played host to bands such as Matt and Kim, Public Enemy, Bush and Motley Crue.  Besides the larger stages, Los Angeles school, Musicians Institute, had their own tent of entertainers.  Elaine Faye, a singer songwriter who can be compared to the likes of Janelle Monae, held her own right with her R&B and soul mix.

The major headliners had fans that continued on for miles it seemed, and if lucky, you were fortunate enough to weave through the crowd to the front of the stages.  Matt and Kim were funny and bubbly, and Public Enemy made it a point that they were still solid even after so many years.  Bush’s Gavin Rossdale never sounded better, and Motley Crue delivered, especially after witnessing drummer Tommy Lee drum in his 360-degree roller coaster.




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