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Sundown On Sunset: SSMF V
Music By Sean Patrick, West Hollywood, California
Bad Religion performing at Sunset Strip Music Festival. Photo by Chi Hong Wong.
The Sunset Strip Music Festival's Fifth annual party kept the city hot last weekend.
The rock and roll and the history baked itself back into a city where music still lives, and has lived through the ups and downs of the industry.
Watching Ray Manzerek and Robby Krieger accept this year’s Elmer Valentine award spoke to their start as a band from Venice, but also to their longevity in our minds even without Jim Morrison.
There’s a relatively small group of iconic bands from all over the world that had humble beginnings on the Strip, but nobody else can claim the Doors. They are California’s.
The three of them still with us including John Densmore are as much an influence on American rock and roll as they ever were through their ongoing studio work and writing.
They are available to their fans, and loyal to their vision as well as their friends.
SSMF V Headliner Marilyn Manson ratcheted up the street festival only after he took the stage at the House Of Blues on Thursday and related his own influences, including “(having sex with) a lot of chicks to the Doors.”
Family of the Year performing at SSMF V. Photo by Chi Hong Wong.
Mikael Maglieri remembers being begged to put them on stage at the Whisky and how it really was a time of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Jim Morrison was the Strip’s true sex symbol during the hottest days of rock music.
After West Hollywood’s mayor and council members declared the day for Jim Morrison, they stood up for freedom of speech by holding “Free Pussy Riot” placards.
Los Angeles’ own Jim Ladd was the perfect host, having had such an influence on this city’s radio playlist. John Doe and Elektra Record’s Jac Holzman illustrated the sensation that the Doors had given us all.
The House of Blues main stage electrified the floor. The crowd for the fifth annual event felt at home this year. They moved and they celebrated just being present for such a great night of real rock.
The all star band mixed the heart of the classic Doors catalogue with personal soul by pairing each song with a voice from the future of music.
Fans playing street hockey at SSMF V. Photo by Chi Hong Wong.
Emily Armstrong’s voice (Dead Sara) and look that night came straight out of now. Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes) shook it up, then Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray) brought it home like you were listening to the radio.
Franky Perez (Scars on Broadway) and Billy Morison and Mat Sorum (Camp Freddy) wailed. Whether you were ever into the Doors or not, the songs and the talent was one of the best opening shows to date. The night was one big song, too short, and one-time-only.
The street festival was Saturday only, but the day was nicely choreographed. It was definitely the hottest day yet for the outdoor stages.
Local favorites like Love and a .38 rocked the Roxy, with California Windfall bringing a little down-home rock to the Key Club. Dead Sara took the full force of the West Hollywood sun and rocked it right back.
Once again it was hard to pick a band to see, because you’d get caught up listening to someone on the way there anyway.
Attendees at SSMF V. Photo by Chi Hong Wong.
Personal favorites Family Of The Year hooked me from the new addition, the Close To Home Stage, next to the Roxy.
It was a great place to command that pocket of sound with tight playing and exceptional melody, away from the notoriously loud street.
Ear plugs, even cotton balls are recommended if you’re anywhere near the East or West stage speakers, but that little stage was perfect to see such a good newer band.
Bad Religion had a blast, made us laugh, and brought back their own Sunset Strip footprints. All the neighborhood kids are still around blowing down the barriers and rocking that Strip.
In the early festivals, the crowds packed the later shows, but Bad Religion brought everyone in early this year. The street was packed and the mosh pit ignited, but kept it inside.
Steve Aoki handed off his swelling crowd back to the West Stage, where Marilyn Manson blew the doors off the night before we headed back into the clubs to where rock and roll lives: on stage after midnight.
It was a party big enough and spread out enough through the Strip that even those without a VIP pass could hang with the best of the business from the ground up.
The weather was brutal to start with, but the sunset graced us with a cool breeze. Attendance was stable, if not up, and it’s clear that the SSMF is beginning to bring back a name to the Los Angeles rock scene.
Here’s to hoping for many more world-class stars on the Strip throughout the year as well. ‘Rock tells it like it is, and West Hollywood is ready to be a rock solid music destination again.
Sean Patrick is a writer, musician, and WeHo News’ Sunset Strip reporter. Catch his latest at www.SeanPatrick.us.
Ray Manzarek puttin' his foot into his playing. Photo by Sean Patrick.