Brookside Golf Club in the Rose Bowl has seen a lot of foot traffic over the past few months, much of it unrelated to the sport. The expanded course has become a go-to venue for several music festivals and cultural events, including This Ain’t No Picnic, which landed in Pasadena this past weekend.
The two-day, all-ages, family-friendly festival—named after the song Minutemen—celebrated a bill that reads like an NPR playlist. An obvious alternative to the defunct Los Angeles Fest, which FYF Fest badly missed, this was no musical outing for everyone—pop, hip-hop, dance, punk and rock were well-represented genres—and featured the kind of left-of-centre artists who became darlings of the indie scene, such as Phoebe Bridgers, Wet League, Beach House, Courtney Barnett (pictured above), and over the past 20 years, as represented by Lee Tigre, Carolyn Polachek, and the headlines at Strokes and LCD Soundsystem.
Amidst golf ball scraps and broken shirts lodged in the grass and dirt, a crowd of varying ages – say 25 to 50 – represented the majority of attendees, but it was also remarkable how many younger children present (those under five) got free entry. ), they were equipped with more luxurious festive clothes compared to their parents. The range of three generations of festival goers reflects a lineup that spans artists from the 1960s to the present day.
There were two distinct pillars at Ain’t No Picnic: guitars and decks. On Saturday, at the Fairway Stage, Yves Tumor, who broadcasts Andre 3000, with a band that looked like they were loaned from Ozzy Osbourne during his Randy Rhoads tenure, turned it into an 11. It required some adjusting accompanied by some road bumps), thigh-high leather boots, Bondage belts and cog bracelets add to their showmanship in spades with the music being a cross between Joy Division and Billy Idol. The shredding continued at The Greens Stage with Magdalena Bay’s multi-tool producer, Matthew Lewin. The feel-good jam of the duo plays as Billie Eilish who came out in the ’70s, with the exception of her first boss Mika Tenenbaum as a K-pop fan avatar and rainbows.
Nigeria’s Madhu Muktar, who completely cut the figure in his kaftan, sparkling ensemble kaftans and blind white turbans, tore down the Fairway Theater on Sunday. His confidence drifted over the crowd as he grinned, sings intermittently in his native Tamasheq, plays his guitar – without Pickaxe – with quick movements in the “normal” manner and over the top of the neck.
Elsewhere, t was cool chicks’ struggle with guitars when Wet Leg joined forces with Phoebe Bridgers to close their group.
On the green stage, the deaf, who was late, had a large crowd on pin and needles. They’ve proven worth the wait to deliver a heavy, treatment-like bass sound. At this point, too, there were the iconic, humorous and often imitated Sparks who entered their sixth decade in music. Wearing Russell Maile’s neon yellow pants all in black, only when they’re browsing their high-energy group do you realize just how many songs they’ve gotten: “Angst in My Pants,” “Tips for Teens,” and “Music That You Can Dance to,” when I sing the song “My Way”. Twisted as ever, Ron Mael’s keyboard reads “Ronald” instead of “Roland”.
If there was a thread running through This Ain’t No Picnic, it was a punk who would never die. From classics like Circle Jerks, Descendents and Mike Watt + The Missingmen to newer hits like the popular Idles, and new favorites Turnstile and Shame, the power and launch of a punk rock group is undeniable. Circle Jerks reliably explodes with a song every two minutes or so, and Shame has bravely tried to do the same. The scoundrels infiltrated their group with the force that comes from experience. Turnstile, one of the most talked about attractions of the festival, attracted a large crowd. And Idles, who soon became main stage material, was at his best. Even lost guitarist Mark Bowen, bass drummer Jon Bevis, and passionate vocalist Joe Talbot delivered it.
The Jungle on the Back Nine Stage was a bridge between guitars and decks. In the words of Spotify’s Carly Eisman, the duo is “Steely Dan of electronic music” and the audience danced a storm during the duo’s set. The performers went crazy when they broke into the Bee Gees’ song “Stayin’ Alive” – which is fitting considering that the band has been compared to each other more than once.
On the opposite pole, Kaytranada led an eclectic group of dance-centric tracks on the Fairway. the 19The tenth Hole Stage, which features an excellent lineup of “cool” DJs, has proven difficult to come by. This was especially true for Honey Dijon who, fresh from her collaboration with Beyoncé, ended the evening with little in attendance.
The most challenging area to enter was the James Murphy area and Soulwax/2ManyDJs’ Despacio is the happiness area. Despacio has been dubbed the world’s greatest sound system, and for good reason. Black except for the blue-green glow from stacks of McIntosh headphones placed around the checkered black-and-white dance floor, a giant disco ball in the center and red and white spot lights flashing on and off, providing very little visuals on the DJ, and it’s part of the Despacio ethos. Working with only vinyl, the slow-rolling rhythms of Stephen and David Dewell of Murphy and Solwax lend a sensual feel to the space—especially during a powerful remix of other perennial Bee Gees, “Love You Inside Out.”