Douglas and the Furs
Douglas and the Furs
Mike Meza

Eclectic Roots Festival - Irvine Lake - 5/12/12

Eclectic Roots Festival

Irvine Lake

May 12, 2012

It's rare to find a spanking-new local event with as much potential as the Eclectic Roots Festival that planted itself  at Irvine Lake last Saturday. After all, it's not often we get to see a smorgasbord of young upstarts from Orange County and L.A.'s echo-drenched, psychedelic rock scene inspire more crowd surfing on the stage than in the audience. As the sun set on a back drop of still water, mountain ranges and parked RVs, some intrepid fans decided to show their appreciation for the last bands of the night by forming a dance mob to climb past the stage monitors to surround them in a sea of bodies.

Mid-way through their explosive set of echo-drenched siren songs, Pomona stoner rock duo Juju were easily lost in the sea of silhouettes sporting cut-off jeans, tank tops, bikinis and sundresses.  With few lights on stage, the boundary between the bands and the fans had practically disintegrated the end result of a day-long showcases fueled by the unifying ethos of D.I.T (Do-It-Together).

Wrangling a mixed bag of over 25 acts from across OC, LA and the San Gabriel Valley, Eclectic Roots drew about 700 festival goers and boasted local faves like Long Beach's Coachella alumni Tijuana Panthers and Burger Records' garage punk wunderkinds, Pangea and Audacity. Multiple areas, food trucks, makeshift art galleries, and a skate ramp were sprawled across a sizable lawn not far from where Punk Rock Picnic had dominated a couple weeks ago.

Rookie festival organizer Michael Hammerson, 23--with help from and local promoters Mike Meza, 27, and Natalie Bonilla,23-- saw Eclectic Roots as a prime opportunity to offer up a small slice of Coachella to local music fans. They even offered $10 car camping passes. And though it felt more like a raucous backyard party than a full-fledged fest, the ability conglomerate several different scenes into one big mosh pit definitely has its merits.

From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., the lake-side festival grounds were drowned in a pool of reverb, snarling vocals and thumping percussion that tended to bleed together between the three stages, two of which were practically a stone's throw away from each other. Despite being tucked away on the corner "Playground Stage" (which was really more of a grassy knoll than anything else), a few of the smaller bands managed to make their presence known. Anaheim three-piece Douglas and the Furs were a snarling, afternoon surprise that stirred a concoction of stomping fuzz rock a la Stooges and gut-wrenching whammy bar assaults from guitarist man Douglas McCurdy while drummer/lead singer Jonathan Shively howled savagely through a microphone covered in duct tape.

Festival goers sporting face paint and graphic tank tops absorbed a steady stream of bands eager to showcase their own spin on stoned, garage rock from the '70s. Aside from the sheer number of acts, mix-ups and overlaps in set times made it a bit hard to tell most of the early bands apart. By night fall, the scheduling issues were untangled in time for the psycho-tropic bass-driven sounds of Dahga Bloom, Burbank's virtuosic jam band T.V. Broken, Third Eye Open and manic, organ-driven trio Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel to work their mind-altering magic on the crowd.  Given the measure of eclectic flavor of this grass roots festival that will hopefully work out the kinks and return again soon.

 Personal Bias: If anything could inspire me to drive from my apartment in L.A. all the way to the ass end of Orange County, it would be a psychedelic rock festival.

Overheard: While on stage, the front man of Mind Martian Collective politely asked the sound man to "turn up the reverb on my mic until it my voice sounds good." Well, at least he's being honest.

Random Notebook Dump: Even with all the stuff going on at the festival, organizers managed to plop down an inflatable bounce house which basically stayed occupied at all times.


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