Photos Property of LATF USA
Returning to the Sunset Strip for its sixth year, the 3-day rock-out Sunset Strip Music Festival is truly a tribute to Los Angeles based musicians who have, are, and will make music history. Ozzy Osbourne, Slash of Guns N’ Roses, Motley Cru and Linkin Park all got their start there. From the 60‘s on, most of the renowned rock n’ roll bands appeared at the famous Whisky A Go-Go, The Roxy and The Key Club (called Gazzarazi’s in the 60’s & Billboard Live in the 90’s) to small crowds. This past Saturday, Linkin Park returned to their original stomping ground, headlining for thousands of fans at the annual Sunset Strip Music Festival.
Having attended for the past three years, the lineup has become more and more eclectic with 40+ bands. Electro, rock, hip-hop and rap blasts from multiple street stages in the heart of West Hollywood. Opening with a bang, SSMF honored superstar Joan Jett, whose famous song, “I Love Rock N’ Roll” made her known worldwide. She rocketed to music stardom after performing on the Sunset Strip in the 70‘s with The Runaways before forming Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. On August 2nd at The House of Blues, Jett was recognized for her eight platinum and gold albums, nine Top 40 singles, including the classics “Bad Reputation,” “I Hate Myself For Loving You” and “Crimson and Clover.” Friday, Jack Daniel’s hosted an outdoor booze garden just off the strip as a little pre-fest party before the big day, while Hoobastank performed at the Whiskey A Go-Go. But, the most anticipated lineup of the festival came on Saturday, drawing thousands of people from noon until the wee hours of the morning.
I was right in the middle of the action, amongst the tattooed rockers and music fans of all ages. The crowds swarmed in, from The Viper Room to Doheny Drive. Many of the smaller bands performed at The Roxy, Whisky and The Viper Room, including Stolen Babies, Uprooted, Sad Robot and Masta Ace: a bunch of newcomers that I had never heard of. Two large outdoor stages had been set up for the superstars of the evening, Wale, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, AWOLNATION and Linkin Park.
Many big name sponsors supported the SSMF, with companies like Coca Cola, who handed out free ice-cold cans of soda, Gibson, Bud Light, Monster Energy Drink, etc.
As the sun began to set on the strip, you felt the energy rising. People rushed from the East to the West stages to catch their favorite headlining acts. Rap fans took to the East stage for Wale’s set where he performed his hits, “Bad” and “LoveHate Things.” The audience got a surprise treat when Wale brought Chris Brown to the stage to sing Big Sean’s part in “Slight Work.” On the West side of the street, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club warmed up the stage for the best two acts of the entire festival: AWOLNATION, which I saw back in 2010 playing to a handful of people at The Key Club and the finale with multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning recording artists, Linkin Park.
On Saturday night, thousands jumped, sang along and swayed to the new hit-makers. Awolnation’s lead singer, Aaron Bruno could easily be mistaken for Kurt Cobain with his blonde locks and emotionally versatile voice. It’s hard to pin down the band’s genre, although they call themselves Electronic Rock. Bruno sounded so smooth singing “Guilty Filthy Soul” and so raspy on songs like “Burn It Down” and their current hit “Sail.”
At 9:30, Linkin Park took the stage and the crowds were roaring. Their goal was to ‘rock for a cause’; with a portion of their ticket sales benefitting their band’s foundation: Music For Relief. I am certain, they raised a sizable amount. LP followers were jumping for joy, so much so; several mosh pits formed, knocking people from left to right. The night marked Linkin Park’s first performance in Los Angeles since May 2012. The band, made up of Chester Bennington, Rob Bourdon, Brad Delson, Dave “Phoenix” Farrell, Joe Hahn and Mike Shinoda are all such strong musicians. Having been a fan of theirs, I did not realize how many hits they had produced over the years until they played the 19 songs, which, not only I, but everyone else sang along to. Indeed, a real coup for SSMF. Until next year…