Sunset Strip Music Festival 2012 – West Hollywood, CA – August 16-18, 2012

August 18, 2012

Sunset Strip Music Festival 2012 - West Hollywood, CA - August 16-18, 2012The 2012 Sunset Strip Music Festival kicked off Thursday night with an epic variety of guests paying tribute to the 2012 honorees; LA’s first notorious bad boys of rock, The Doors. Jim Ladd of KLOS as well as shock rocker Marilyn Manson and John Doe of X led introductions and had choice words for describing the impact The Doors had on their musical careers as well as the LA scene and rock landscape globally.

Sunset Strip Music Festival 2012 - West Hollywood, CA - August 16-18, 2012

Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman shared his tale of discovering The Doors while they were a house band on the sunset strip some 45 years prior and how in the bands short career they were able to change music forever. Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger and pianist Ray Manzarek then received The Elmer Valentine Award and a Plaque proclaiming August 16th 2012 Doors Day in the city of West Hollywood.  The two had permanent smiles fixed to their faces as they appeared to be on cloud nine all night on stage.

Things then began to take off as the all star jam got underway featuring backing from Camp Freddy. Vocals were handled in a honorary way by a number of guests, though all attention seemed to focus on both Robbie and Ray as their chemistry on stage was beyond electrifying and more than magnificent to watch from such a close proximity. In true 60’s fashion the band advocated the usage of mind altering drugs to open the doors of perception and to find your own personal Axis Mundi, they’re quite the thinkers those two, they gave more than just a concert but somewhat of a mini lecture! 

We caught Peter Murphy a short while later over at The Roxy Theatre where he performed before a packed house where legions of fans were pressed up at the stage and as far back as the bar area. Peter being the astounding performer that he is exploded onto the stage with a Bauhaus classic as his set opener which really lit the crowd on fire and caused the dance floor to get moving very quickly. It wasn’t long before he belted out a number of solo tracks that rocked the crowd in a Bowie esque kind of way. His newest addition to the band is a bassist who also doubles as a violinist which was heavily useful during “A Strange Kind of Love”; a love ballad which then bled into the ever classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” which once again struck a chord with the Goth heavy crowd. The highlight of the set did come at the very end with a cover of Ziggy Stardust which ultimately reminded so many fans of the short Bauhaus reunion of 7 years ago at The Wiltern theatre. Dramatic rock had never looked or sounded so good as it did at The Roxy that night.

Night 2 of the SSMF continued on with a special performance by one of our favorite hometown heroes, the and only X.  The crowd at the Roxy on this particular night happened to be a bit more ferocious and stir crazy than the previous nights audience and it was most apparent as the band kicked into the opening track of their debut album Los Angeles. The energy in the venue continued to build up as the four some steam rolled through the albums songs in the same running order as the record and proves that fans really do enjoy when a great band plays a great album in its entirety. The legendary punks managed to take things to a whole new level when they kicked into their 2nd album Wild Gift much to the crowds approval; X performing their first two albums in their entirety back to back, EPIC!

Only adding to the sheer epic-ness was the amazing Ray Manzarek of The Doors joining the band a number of times on stage with his keyboard for a bunch of songs through out the 2 hour set. The temperature in the venue had only risen as the set progressed and was beyond hellish and more humid than a south Florida beach party, but the fans kept a dancing and the band kept playing at the top notch level they have always been known for.

All in all it ended up being the raddest X concert in recent years by far and from what I overheard a security guard say after the crowd had left “That was the best show I’ve seen in all the years I’ve worked here!” It seems both fans and security can share the same viewpoints from time to time.

As Saturday’s street fest began It became clear that there would have to be lots of running around (much like every years fest) to try and catch a bit of what was going on at every stage and venue. There wasn’t a venue on the strip that we did not hit up yesterday in hopes of discovering new musical treats or bands we already had loved. The best thing about the Sunset Strip Music Fest is there is always a ton of bands from so many musical backgrounds that there truly is something for everybody. I’ll admit that of course there are going to be bands that I don’t care for but I give the fest’s organizers credit for assembling a festival with more variety than any other local fest in LA or OC. One of the bands that seemed to get the early audience pumped was Dead Sara, a band you’ve likely been hearing about non stop this summer since they’ve been killing it on the vans warped tour and burning ears on 98.7 fm. On the opposite side of the rock spectrum was electronica and hip hop favorites bringing their flavor to the east side stage. Steve Aoki, Leif Garret and De La Soul brought their A game and got the rave crowd dancing every minute of their sets. All the while southern metal gods Black Label Society destroyed the main stage with help from their arena rock multi stack Marshall amplifier stage setup, it was loud as fuck!

Leave it to LA Punks Bad Religion to prove that you can have a minimalist stage production and still out play bands with fancy expensive gear. Greg Graffin and co.’s primarily super high paced set blew away BLS and got the crowd moving for the first time that day and was a reassuring notion that short and sweet songs that remain straight to the point are usually proffered over technical virtuoso crunchiness. Much to the audiences liking Bad Religion played a variety of their back catalog never focusing too long on any one of their albums selection of hits. Bad Religion were the first band to get the crowd to circle pit as well, something that would be non stop during The Offspring’s stellar set that came right after.

A large number of fans made their way to the far end of the festival grounds and packed into the Whiskey A Go Go just in time to catch the legendary 45 Grave play their brand of Goth punk to old and new fans alike. Tracks off their new release Pick your Poison went over really well and seamlessly flowed back and forth between their classics. Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio fame got the same reaction from fans over at the Roxy where he performed an acoustic solo set.

The Offspring took the main stage as the sun began to set and easily made everybody else look and sound so elementary in comparison to their high energy and primarily old school set. The boys from Huntington Beach played so incredibly tight and worked the perfect amount of fan favorite and radio hits that their set seemed like greatest hits album played at a party where everyone got along in unison. It was festive and it was grand as the entire crowd knew every word and sang along to anthems such as “Gotta Get Away”, “Come out and Play’, “The Kids Aren’t Alright”, and the set closer ultra sing a long “Self Esteem”

Following The Offspring’s perfect set would be hard for any band and it most certainly proved to be for Marilyn Manson who appeared to most definitely be under the influence. As a result his set seemed really loose despite the cinematic productions put forth by his road crew as his stage set up looked amazing and probably expensive. All the stage fog and props helped to distract from the slurred speech in between his 90’s jams that went over pretty well though not at the level at which The Offspring’s crowd reacted. There were redeeming moments through out his time on stage last night and those were during his songs that put him on the map like “Dope Show”, “Disposable Teens”  and “Rock Is Dead”. His new stuff even seemed to get the crowd moving, but nothing he could dish out of his own material seemed to match the response from his Depeche Mode cover of “Personal Jesus” and ultra 80’s hit “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This” by The Eurthymics. His set went up a notch when surprise guests Robbie Krieger and Ray Manzarek of The Doors (who were honored at SSMF) joined the shock rocker for a number of Doors classics. People Are Strange, Love me Two Times and Five to One were played back to back with each song bringing out the performer in Manson that people had come to know 15 years prior, he became a maniac on stage and resembled a wild lizard king by the name of Jim Morrison as he similarly rolled around the floor screaming at the top of his dark lungs.

The encore of Antichrist Superstar and Beautiful People closed out his set before a confetti burst that rained hard down on Sunset blvd; where one could only imagine a clean up crew is still sweeping up debris at this very moment leftover from last nights show. Not to be punk rock biased, but I imagine many would have preferred The Offspring to head headline over Manson as Dexter and crews set got the crowd moving and singing all night while they performed like a well oiled machine compared to a band where the front man seemed to struggle from song to song. Its hard to imagine that Manson has sold more records than The Offspring or has gathered more buzz lately, whatever the case, The Offspring stole the show with very little effort.

To wrap up what we learned this year at SSMF is that younger bands are learning a thing of two from the bands that paved the blvd at how to rock crowds and do it genuinely, ala Dead Sara. Older bands like Bad Religion, 45 Grave and The Offspring as well as members of The Doors are still kicking ass decades after their first shows on that very same strip. And last but most certainly not least is that doing lots of drugs can diminish your performance capabilities and lessen your status as a badass rock god. Two terms I heard through out the night was “coke bloat” and “washed up“, sadly it didn’t take long for me to realize who and what the audience were referring to.

I ask myself this on the way home from every SSMF; “Who will they honor next year and who will headline?” I suppose we shall find out by spring of 2013 if mankinds existence hasn’t come to an end by mid December 2012! If we are all still here then we will most definitely be seeing you at the 6th annual 2013 SSMF!


                             More photos of day1 can be seen HERE

                                                                          Day 2 HERE

                                                                           Day 3 HERE

-Louie Bones-
Big Wheel Staff Journalist 




Bookmark and Share

Go HERE to see all the latest show reviews


Send your comments to the editor HERE