It’s hard for me to say anything negative about this year’s installment of Moon Block Party. After all, there is nothing more pure than a collective of artists banding together to organize a festival purely out of a love for music. I could go into depth about the sometimes suspect sound, that-most vendors ran out of water a couple hours before the end of the show, Black Lips trainwreck of a set or the regretful health circumstances which prevented Black Rebel Motorcycle Club from taking the stage. Forget all that nonsense, did you see the line up of bands?
It’s not just the lineup that was special but the fact that there was a spirit of community amongst the organizers and performers because many of the organizers were the performers. Moon Block Party is the brainchild of Phil Pirrone, but in no way, shape or form does he get all the credit and I don’t think he would take it if you gave it to him. I’m sure he’d be more interested in your opinion of his band Jjuujjuu, which inauspiciously took the stage in the late afternoon hours and delivered a masterful set. I also met Pirrone’s wife, Deap Vally drummer/vocalist, Julie Edwards and her band mate, singer and guitarist, Lindsey Troy. They were in the audience being friends and fans before taking the stage for one of my favorite sets of the day, later in the early evening. All those factors made it bearable that I missed most of the Black Angels’ guitarist, Christian Bland the Revelators set which was conflicting with the Jjuujjuu time slot. I would’ve left a bit early but the presence of Lindsey Troy hypnotized and paralyzed me.
Band of Skulls
Band of Skulls were amazing. Their grunge sound was a bit of a departure from the psych-mania which prevailed at Moon Block Party but in no way were they out of place. They placed their stamp on this festival in a big way and delivered hard, heavy rock and roll to the black clad hippies who were the patrons of this party.
The other, more notable performances I witnessed were Joy Division-esque masters, Corners, The Cosmonauts, Metz, who were the by far hardest band of the day and my first time seeing The Black Angels, who put the entire audience in a trance. I snapped out of it long enough to look around and see everyone swaying in unison. It was a beautiful moment. Unfortunately, I missed Death Hymn Number 9 (but our photographer got some great photos of them below) and Adult Books. They played a bit on the early side.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra deserve their own paragraph. To me, they stood on their own as taking this psychedelic resurgence to greater heights. There are so many good bands trying to get trippy and just as many bad ones. The compositions of songwriter/guitarist and singer, Ruban Nielson are awe inspiring and their live execution, along with band mates Jake Portrait and Riley Geare, are a benchmark all psych rockers should aspire to.
It’s always a motivation to attend a show for me when I see Black Lips on a lineup. I’ve seen them a handful of times and each time, they’ve blown me away with their energy and musical prowess. Out of all the bands who were on the bill, I’ve binged on their music more than all others. That’s why it’s so sad to report that they were off their game that night. Most of the bands I have seen more than a few times have had an off night and this happened to be an off night for Black Lips. The sound mix for their set wasn’t right so maybe this could explain the train-wreck-ish vibe coming from the stage. It was also the first time I’ve seen them with old/new guitarist, Jack Hines but he sounded on point. They good news is that their energy was there so less snobbish folks than myself might not have noticed the out of character performance.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Spoon. I know a lot of people love them but they never really captured my affection. I’ve seen them live before and wasn’t that impressed. But at Moon Block Party, they made a believer out of me and were received very well by the fatigued audience. You won’t get any props out of me if you can’t rock it live and after Spoon’s set on Saturday, they get my respect, for whatever that’s worth.
Moon Block Party felt very intimate. A welcome change from other, local festivals. Maybe Moon Block Party and Desert Daze are the answer to FYF and their recent departure from intimacy by moving the festival to Exposition Park. This felt more like a friend’s party. At parties, you never think about critiquing as long as you are having a good time. Even though I’ve recently wanted to punch anyone in the fase that mentions the word “psych”, I love the bands that have embraced their influences enough to take that genre of music to the next level. In the absence of violence, there must be love and if this generation isn’t pissed off enough at the world around them to burn some shit down, then at least they can get together, in mutual respect for art, to create a community of friends and lovers.
Take a look at our photos below from Moon Block Party 2014 at Pomona Fairplex.
Words: Danny Baraz
Photography: Wes Marsala
Band Of Skulls
Death Hymn Number 9
Death Hymn Number 9
Death Hymn Number 9
Want more photos of all the bands? Check out the photo gallery below!