REVIEW: Sunset Strip Music Festival 2014 (9/20-9/21)

Photo: Out at SSMF, very excited to be doing press for the first time!

The Strip

In the 1920s the Strip saw night clubs and casinos move in during the Prohibition. The Strip became a playground for the rich and famous in the 1930s-1940s. By the 60s-70s we see the strip become a haven for so many iconic music groups such as Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Frank Zappa, and many others that played at clubs like the Whisky a Go Go and the Roxy. And lastly, in the 80s the Strip welcomed rock-metal artists such as Van Halen, Poison, and Guns N’ Roses. These years are cherished and we remember all the history that has happened on this iconic strip.

The Sunset Strip Music Festival not only pays tribute to the history, but also reinforces how important this Strip has been in influencing Los Angeles and the thriving music industry that continues to grow. Whether you’re a Baby Boomer or Millennial, this festival brought the music back to life for all generations to experience in one weekend.

There were five stages at the venue: The West Stage (Main Stage), The Monster Energy Stage, The Murs 316 stage, Whiskey Stage (at Whiskey a Go Go), and Roxy Stage (at the Roxy).

The Murs 316 Stage was a breath of fresh air for those who love hip-hop or for those we were newly discovering the music. The hop-hop scene is still fairly new to LA compared to other genres of music. The stage was a great opportunity to raise hype about how hip-hop today is still growing and will continue to be prominent. The stage featured artists such as Riff Raff, DJ Quik, Bun B, and Killer Mike. On Saturday, artists like Riff Raff took the stage and had a great time getting the audience to dance and chant along with him. On Sunday, attendees got to see DJ Quik take us back a decade and reminded us that “real music takes time”. Whether the artist was throwing it back to the 90’s, or introducing new sounds, festival attendees emerged themselves in Rap and the excellence of Hip-Hop.

Photo: Riff Raff

My Experience

I spent the bulk of my time at the Monster Energy Stage and The West Stage (Main Stage). It was at these two stages I discovered many great new artists that opened my eyes to new genres. Nightmare and the Cat had one of the most exhilarating performances I’ve ever seen. The band performed with LA-artist Gary Baseman, and together they infused live music with live painting. Lead singer, Django, gave a captivating performance alongside his four back-up dancers, which consisted of one black cat, one pink “ChouChou”, and a boy and girl in pink dresses. What topped it off was the great musical quality of the band that had tints of rock, pop, folk, and alternative throughout their set.

Photo: Nightmare and the Cat

Crosses(stylized as †††)and Cold War Kids were also great bands to see this weekend. This was my first time seeing Crosses, and I loved their electronic-rock sound. What surprised me the most was leader singer Chino Moreno’s voice, which had such an aesthetic, yet rustic quality while he screamed during the climaxes of his songs. My experience for Cold War Kids was everything and more than what I hoped it would be. They never disappoint, and the OC band really gave LA their best during the weekend. The chemistry between the band members is so strong. There isn’t one moment when the band isn’t connecting with each other or with the audience while performing. The bass player will go visit the drummer and jam out, while the guitar player will butt heads with the piano player for part of a song.

Photo: Crosses

Photo: Cold War Kids

Big Freedia was another new experience for me. As I approached her set, I was welcomed by an array of “twerking” women on stage. Whether she was asking us to sing about gin with her, or having fifty people come on stage to twerk while she sang about “Azz Everywhere”, her whole set was entertaining. Her and her dancers really know how to give a performance. Tove Lo, an indie artist from Sweden,gave LA a visit to grace us with her presence and beautiful voice. Her hit songs “Habits” and “Not on Drugs” attracted a huge crowd, and we were all excited to discover new music from her upcoming album “Queen of the Clouds”. By the end of her set, she had the whole crowd jumping up and down and dancing to a new electronic sound.

Photo: Big Freedia

Photo: Tove Lo

Jane’s Addiction and Empire of the Sunwere the two headliners of the weekend. On Friday, Jane’s Addiction gave an epic performance of “Nothing’s Shocking” to end the night. The whole crowd waited in anticipation before the band performed. As they began, I heard people around me talking about the essence of the 90’s, which I’m sure everyone at that moment was able to feel as the band took the stage. On Sunday night, Empire of the Sun ended the weekend perfectly. There wasn’t a single person who wasn’t dancing while the band gave a stellar performance. The Australian duo lit up the stage for all of LA to see as they played “Walking on a Dream” and “We are the People”. They ended the night with a final encore of their hit “Alive”, and I’m positive that’s how everyone felt by the end of this epic weekend.

Photo: Empire of the Sun


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