Sweetgreen is a smartly sourced seasonal food chain that began in DC and now operates all along the East Coast, founded by three Georgetown University graduates. With two of those founders being LA-based, it was only a matter of time until they tried their hand on the West Coast. Though the W. 3rd St. location officially launched on May 21 (and with one coming to Santa Monica soon), a block-party style launch took place Thursday with performances from LA’s own BANKS and rising lo-fi rockers Alvvays, in partner with FADER.
As you walked into the event, you received a tote bag emblazoned with the tag line “BEETS DON’T KALE MY VIBE.” That’s the name of an actual salad, a play on words for one of Kendrick Lamar‘s hits from his good kid, m.A.A.d. city album. A few weeks ago, Sweetgreen put on their Sweetlife Festival that culminated in a Kendrick performance, one that saw one of the Sweetgreen founders brought on stage to rap — and fail miserably. Some of the free samples of other salads also featured names like “Hollywood Bowl.” Free beer and wine was also a staple, which meant the event was well-packed.
At around 7:45 PM, fast-rising Nova Scotian lo-fi rock band Alvvays took the stage, which sat in a spacious area between the Sweetgreen building and another building. The crowd began to fill as they began to perform. Having seen them at SXSW and Sasquatch earlier this year, I was very excited to get a chance to see them again, only their second performance in LA. Early in the set, singer/guitarist Molly Rankin made a mention that people could move up closer and it didn’t need to have a cocktail party feel to it. People took her up on her offer and got more into the performance. They played six songs, ending with “Party Police” and their big hit “Archie, Marry Me,” which more people in attendance were familiar with.
At that point I grabbed another IPA and chatted with some people before it was mentioned to me that Este from HAIM was behind me. They’re one of my favorite bands, especially live, so I had to bug her for a minute and she was even cooler than I could’ve imagined.
Closing the night was the sensational BANKS. Beginning with “Alibi,” it was clear immediately that this was a gathering of massive fans of the singer whose album Goddess took us by storm last year. A few songs in, she threw her jacket to the side of the stage and began to move all around the stage.
BANKS hasn’t performed much more than a dozen times this year, including at the Sweetlife Festival a few weeks ago. She did “Before I Met You,” a song she hasn’t been performing as much as of late, giving people who made it out a special treat. Setlist staples like “Brain” and “Waiting Game” were in the mix, and everyone sang along to the set-closing “Beggin’ for Thread,” which has been inescapable on LA radio the past six months. Oftentimes with these pop-up performances you’re lucky to get a couple of songs, but on this night BANKS delivered nine over the course of 45 minutes.
On the way out of the place, I saw the remaining members of HAIM and chatted them up, even snapping a picture with Este with her pretend-punching the black eye I got the previous weekend at BottleRock. I also spotted actress Chloe Grace Moretz as I walked out. The entire event was “so LA,” telling me that Sweetgreen knows precisely what it is doing moving in on new territory. I just hope this isn’t the last time they make use of the awesome space they have for performances, because BANKS and Alvvays definitely showed there’s a ton of potential there.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photos courtesy of Emily Berl