In between having “I tried to call you collect, you said you would not accept” stuck in my head, mango beer in my system, and nostalgia running rampant for days, Golden Road’s two-day stint toasted as a bite-size celebration to wrap up the last of the summer’s days.
The outdoor stretch held one stage for acts, followed by a galore of beer, food, activities, and a lounging patio area that fittingly saw shade and golden streaks. While the sun was beaming with full force directly into the alley on Saturday, despite industrial sized mist fans catching attendees as they passed by, Made in L.A. boasted as a nice day out in the City of Angels.
Saturday packed the lot to its fullest potential by the time Cold War Kids made their arrival at 9 p.m. but the high points were truly with Jasper Bones and Pell. The Los Angeles singer-songwriter, Jasper Bones, who describes his sound as “Chicano wavy soul,” crooned with a sensual and dreamy disposition. A bilingual adoration stemmed from each track and held no sharp points with each transition, especially with the artist’s delicate take of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.”
Pell captivated the crowd instantly the moment he took to the stage. The New Orleans rapper and musician emerged with a custom tee proudly displaying “fuck ice,” which initiated his constant request from the crowd to repeat the phrase between his own ongoing declaration. Accompanied by his band, who held grooves and dreamy chops when needed, the set pulled from his debut album Gravity, and wavered a tender sense of the heart, and youth live, dare I say, of an early .Paak
His vitality and movements were flawless and he rap-sang each word with a certain charm that you couldn’t ignore. “They make a fine lager…mango goes hard,” quipped Pell. “So this next one is called “Bitch Ass.'”
Sunday held L.A.’s power-darling, Lauren Ruth Ward, and as always, she can do no wrong. Ward’s set was an equal balance of strong cuts from Well, Hell, stand alone singles, and new, unreleased tracks. High kicks swarmed by “Make Love to Myself,” “Wise Gal,” and “Sideways,” to the sore, introspective ballads of “Staff Only” and “Did I Offend You?” There’s a chill that Ward initiates and it’s not only due to the rasp-throttled vocals that could dissolve surrounding barriers, but her wit and genuine sheen, coated in a ’70s cloak, that radiates each time.
Donavon Frankenreiter soon followed and continued the blues-inspo with soft and surf rock that took the afternoon to a crisp evening. The former professional surfer set a restful pace and stunned with beach and carefree vibes, similar to the likes of Jack Johnson, that beamed from cool-toned vocals.
The biggest take from Sunday, and in general, was Phantom Planet’s vivacious set. The Los Angeles band who have been out of the light for 11 years — and surprised fans with a secret show in January and released their first single since then in May — resurfaced the pool of alternative pop and rock that consumed the early 2000s. Despite their catalogue that stretches from 1994 to now, the sound seemed to never age.
Frontman Alex Greenwald constantly danced around the phrase “it’s coming,” alluding to fans’ request of the iconic track “California.” And as Greenwald repeated for our patience in the lightest of manners, it seemed to pain me. This song could possibly be a blessing and a curse; a feat of recognition that caps an audiences’ attention span when so much more is held by the band.
Yet, with gratitude, signature keys began and we were all suddenly thrown into the drama of The O.C. Former Panic! at the Disco guitarist Ryan Ross appeared for “Do the Panic,” and die-hard fans were fed with selections from their debut and sophomore album. Past “California,” the energy and new breeze from the quartet came as a spirited jolt of a familiar sound that felt right, and frankly like where they started from.
With Sunday holding as the strongest day, Made in L.A. contested and appeased our nostalgia. With the mini-fest’s only flaw of having only two women acts (there’s always next year), it was a welcoming visit and snapshot of Los Angeles.