Written by Elisha Gud
Photos by Justin Zangerle and Elisha Gud
The Arroyo Seco Weekend—otherwise deemed as “Old Chella” was quite the sight to see. With just as many food vendors if not more than musical artists on the bill there was always something to see, eat or, do. With that being said, the Pasadena Rose Bowl in Southern California is one of the most picturesque scenes you could ever imagine…Rolling hills, blue skies, and smiling faces in every which way you looked. This festival is far from small and the attendance numbers are higher than I have ever seen at any festival I’ve been to. Keep in mind this is not a camp on site kind of festival either so the travel time to get there was certainly an additional factor in who you saw, what stage, and when you got there.
Roughly around 25,000 people from all over flocked to the Rose Bowl to see big named artists and acts such as Neil Young, Jack White, The Pretenders, Robert Plant, Gary Clark Jr., and Alanis Morissette. The Arroyo Seco Weekend lineup had a plethora of throw back names and artists creating a “blast from the past” kind of environment with a mix of talent from all kinds of genres and eras.
On Saturday the festival started out with a bang! We made it there just in time to catch a glimpse of the North Mississippi Allstars, for an early start to the day I was fairly impressed with the amount of people that turned out and were already there. Their Rock ’N Roll bluesy tunes really get the party going. From there we checked out the Shakey Graves set for a split second before heading over to see Kamasi Washington who simply steals the show every time he steps on stage. We took a short break between the Kamasi set and The Pretenders set to grab a bite to eat.
Arroyo Seco weekend is truly that of a foodies paradise with what seemed like hundreds of food vendors sprawled out around this festival. You could literally eat whatever you want depending on what your taste buds were craving. I had some kind of oriental hot dog topped with kimchi, spices and what-not, my boyfriend tried the brisket crunch wrap from Freedman’s in LA—Jeff Goldblum had featured a video of him eating it on the Arroyo Seco socials stating that it was a MUST HAVE….I’ll tell you this, don’t take food advice from Jeff Goldblum it was far from what it was cracked up to be. Other food vendors ranged from sweets to meat in seconds with LA locals and favorites such as Baby Love Sweetery, Barrel & Ashes BBQ, Burritos La Palma, Vegan Burrito places, and Cal Mare as a SoCal pizza favorite…just to name a few.
After the quick snack break, we headed back over to the Oaks stage to catch The Pretenders. Now if you’ve never seen the Pretenders play—it’s definitely something that should be crossed off that bucket list. Chrissie Hynde has a way with words; owning the stage and leaving it with one of the best sets of the weekend and one of the best shout out’s I have ever heard before. “This one’s for Willie Nelson—one day on his bus changed my life!” Sending the massive crowd into cheers and laughter and for some even tears.
From the Pretenders to Margo Price, and then onto a killer Jack White set. There was nothing more extraordinary the entire weekend than the Neil Young + Promise of the Real set. The legendary Neil Young and his backing band, Promise of the Real just so happens to be Lukas Nelsons solo-ish band project. The band rocked out, jammed out, and played some classic hits such as “Lotta Love,” “Rockin’ in the Free World,” “Angry World,” and “Powderfinger,” ending the set with “Roll Another Number (For the Road).” For some this performance was extremely emotional to see such an icon on stage and still rocking out to some of his classic hits.
Sunday proved to be just as exciting as Saturday. With my inner child screaming for joy at the different musicians and sets for the day. There was Trampled By Turtles, Violent Femmes, The Revolution, The Bangles, AND my childhood favorite Alanis Morissette—Who was quite frankly…everything you would have imagined and more. Per usual, I somehow missed yet another Gary Clark Jr. set. We somehow found ourselves on the other side of the gigantic venue testing out all of the fantastic cocktails from the Glenfiddich Dome and massive amounts of beers from many breweries such as Eagle Rock Brewery, Three Weavers, and Saint Archer Brewing Co..The venue itself is so big that if you are not at the set when it starts, there is no way you can walk from one side of the venue to the other before that set is over.
We headed over to the Oak stage to see Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. It felt like every person at the venue flocked to this stage for the show. It was a cool show…but it wasn’t Led Zeppelin that’s for sure. With the last day of the festival being on a Sunday we chose to leave a little early since there was that work thing the next day. On the way out we caught the end of the Capital Cities set and then Third Eye Blind where my middle school heart exploded dancing and singing to some of my favorite throw back jams.
Things we saw at Arroyo Seco that were pretty awesome..Music, the NASA jet propulsion laboratory, The Huntington interactive plant installation featuring microscope stations where you could see the stunning details of magnolia and passionfruit flowers—they also gave away a box full of California Poppy seeds for festival goers to plant themselves in their own gardens. I totally indulged. We also had the chance to checkout the Glasshouse Record Store, which was an on site record store with over 10,000 vinyl records for attendees to sift through and also even purchase anything they found that intrigued them.
Along with all of the amazing things we saw, there were also some disappointing moments, sets and things missed strictly because of the spread out layout.—and the amount of people there makes it impossible to even see the stage. With that being said we missed some pretty awesome music by Allen Stone, The Milk Carton Kids, Los Lobos, Tracksuit Wedding, Fantastic Negrito (whom we had met in the media tent and kicked it off with), and Aaron Neville.
The music was awesome the art was pretty cool and eclectic, and the food was abundant. The Arroyo Seco Weekend experience is certainly that…an experience. This festival is there for attendees to do just that, chill, drink, and eat…and maybe see some stellar acts throughout the weekend…”Old Chella” nailed it.