For the fourth and final day of Culture Collide we were treated to the spectacular Block Party, with stages, food trucks and the expansive crowd creating a vibrant scene at Los Angeles’ Reservoir Street in Echo Park. Arriving in the afternoon to find Los Angeles’ locals soaking up both the quality live music on offer, as well as the Californian sunshine, I knew I was in for a great final night of Culture Collide.
My afternoon started out with the energetic indie dance pop tunes of Royal Teeth. A six piece band from the United States, these guys certainly make full use of each and every member as they come together to create vibrant, large scale dance tracks. With the band members Andrew Poe and Nora Patterson sharing vocal duties, catchy synth melodies and strong beats, these guys played a set-list perfectly sitted to a sunny street party. In addition to their own track “Wild”, their cover of The Knife’s “Hearbeats” stood as a sure favourite.
Next up on the larger stage was the local Los Angeles act, Poolside. While doing a wonderful job of maintaining the street party vibe so expertly evoked by Royal Teeth, Poolside’s sound has a much more laid-back feel to it. Bringing hushed, airy vocals and disco-esque synth beats with songs including “Slow Down”, the duo’s music was easy to get into, as they played to a large crowd of local supporters. Further into the set Poolside’s songs became slightly difficult to distinguish, perhaps indicating that the band are better appreciated upon a number of close listens.
Moving in-doors discover the Polish act Coldair perform at The Taix, I was thrilled to find unique band with an interesting, refreshing sound. Headed by Tobiasz Biliński, who is also co-founder of the act Kyst, the band blends together jazzy flourishes of a brass section, tight beats and Biliński’s high reaching vocals. Moving from soft, measured openings to fantastic escalations of energy, Coldair sure know how to create a range of atmospheric soundscapes. Clearly an intelligent band with a flair for playing with new sounds and moods, it will certainly be listening to their recorded material.
After catching a few songs by DIIV, a classic rock act from New York, I caught a fantastic set by Niki and The Dove. A Swedish duo made up of Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf, these guys have a great talent for writing edgy, flamboyant dance pop. Malin Dahlström stood as the main personality up on stage, keeping us thoroughly entertained with her powerful feminine vocals and kooky technicolour outfit. Backed up by electronic beats and deep pounding percussion, Niki and the Dove served up a number of epic pop tracks. The slower number “DJ Ease My Mind” stood as one of their strongest tracks, as well as their closing song “Tomorrow”, due to the intense drama with which each song was delivered.
Back in The Taix I caught the tail-end of the set by indie pop rock act The Moog. Hailing from Budapest, Hungary, these guys put on a great show as they certainly know how to bring their personality to the stage. As the lead singer paused at one point to complain about his uncomfortable skinny leg jeans saying, 'I try to be hip but I fail, always', it was easy to appreciate their upbeat stage presence. With fast pop rock songs that bring The Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand to mind, these guys also knew how to get the crowd moving.
The acts Of Montreal and The Wombats finished up the outdoor events, both playing to huge crowds. Of Montreal are put on a strong performance, playing their catchy material that blends breezy pop with rock and electronica. Having been formed by frontman Kevin Barnes back in 1996. the band has accumulated a strong following, which was very much reinforced on Sunday night. The Wombats similarly did an impressive job, bringing out a whole lot of their hits including “Techno Fan” and “Jump Into The Fog”. While the British band has a huge presence in Australia, it was strange to see The Wombats plays to a happy, yet by no means as excited a crowd as they would get back in Australia.
My night, and time at Culture Collide, came to an end with a massive set by Gold Fields, followed up their Saturday night appearance with yet another strong set. An inspiring, dynamic and refreshingly open-minded festival that aims to involve artists from across the world, Culture Collide has been a festival well worth attending.
Editors Note: I must also give a mention to Canadian bands Huddle and Half Moon Run, both who turned out stellar sets. We've covered Half Moon Run many times on the site before, but this was my first introduction to Huddle. They're definitely a band to watch. Australia's own The Trouble With Templeton was one of the first artists to play the event, and did a stellar job with proceedings, while Gold Fields were one of the last to play. The Ballarat band, in spite of power outages and technical problems, put on one of the best electronic sets I've seen in a very long time. Since when did they get this good!? Much as Lucy said, this was a great way to end a fantastic week of music. - Larry Heath