Saturday was the inaugural Waved Out Fest at the Echo and Echoplex, running from 3:30pm to 2am. The festival featured emerging local and national artists, with sixteen bands playing on two stages, with live screenprinting from Hit + Run, several food trucks, and tons of free ice cream. It was hot, crowded, and loud—everything you’d expect a music festival to be, but with more ninja turtle ice cream bars than I’ve ever seen in one place at any given time. Hundreds of kids flooded the Echo and the Echoplex for Aquarium Drunkard’s first all-ages music festival at two of the best venues on the east side. You really can’t beat sixteen bands and free shirts and ice cream for $12.
My favorite performances from the fest were Active Child, Gamble House, and Best Coast. Active Child returned to the Echoplex stage for the second time in the last month with an unfortunately early time slot. Their audience was pretty thin compared to the packed house they played to when opening for Four Tet in February. After several shows at SXSW, their second show at the Echoplex was noticeably stronger despite how nervous the crowd’s silence made singer Pat Grossi. Backed only by a bassist, Grossi switched between guitar and harp while looping several vocal tracks to create his own haunting choir. When Grossi sat down with his harp there was an audible gasp of excitement as apparently few people in the audience expected to see a harp at an indie rock show. His new album drops later this year, and judging by the material he played at the Echoplex, it’s going to be one of the best of 2010.
L.A.’s Gamble House played a short, mellow set in the Echo. Originally the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Ben Becker, Gamble House has grown into a full band, though the music hasn’t lost the intimacy of a bedroom project. He brought a talented cast of musicians with him to create Gamble House’s cinematic sound. There’s been a lot of Grizzly Bear comparisons, but Gamble House’s music has its own lush beauty, with atmospheric instrumentation, epic harmonies, and confident but gentle vocals.
The Echoplex finally began to fill up in time for Best Coast, the brainchild of Bethany Cosentino, formerly of Pocohaunted. She played mostly new material, most of which fell into her usual pattern of love-letter lyrics set to fuzzy pop guitar. The band’s sun-kissed beach sound overpowered Cosentino’s vocals, which is a real shame given that her voice is the best feature of Best Coast. Still, she’s clearly got some incredible songs in store for her upcoming album. A new full-length record, several SXSW shows, and a European tour—clearly 2010’s shaping up to be a fantastic year for Best Coast.
Judging by the packed house, I’d say the first Waved Out Fest was a definite success. I’m sure I’m not the only one who stumbled home that night exhausted and dizzy from a day packed full of exciting bands on the rise.