Live Review

Arroyo Seco Weekend

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers on June 24, 2017

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers closing out Day 1 of the Arroyo Seco Weekend in Pasadena, California.

Goldenvoice, creators of the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, Stagecoach and Desert Trip have rolled out another festival that kind of blends all three of them together, the Arroyo Seco Weekend.

In its inaugural debut, the lineup was a cross-section of new and upcoming bands mixed with musical veterans. Upon arrival at the grounds of the legendary Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the lines for entry began around 11:00 AM on a warn Southern California day. Gates were to open at 12:00 noon but didn’t until around 12:30. Once through security, the flow was easy for folks of all ages. Once arriving at the festival grounds at Brookside Golf Club, the three stages were spread out nicely and easy to navigate.

The two main stages (The Oaks and The Sycamore) were far enough apart to limit the overlapping sound from each of them. The volume was well controlled and didn’t blast you out. The Willows stage was inside an intimate tent and featured mostly jazz and R&B artists.

My day started by catching the band Baskery from Sweden at The Sycamore stage. These three sisters are a fun trio with Stella Bondesson on double bass & vocals, Greta Bondesson on banjo and kick drum, and Sunniva Bondesson on guitar & vocals. They were contacted a week prior and asked to open the festival and they got everyone going for the day. I last saw them open for Gary Clark Jr. and they are certainly one of those new bands to keep an eye on.

I cruised on over to The Oaks stage and caught another new artist who I didn’t know anything about and was very surprised. Jade Jackson had just released her first album “Gilded” and played an energetic set of songs with her rockin’ band. I really enjoyed her set and am hoping to catch her when she hits Seattle.

Following Jade Jackson were the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band. I’ve now caught they several times and each time out they put on an impressive set of jazz unique to their New Orleans roots. With horns a blazin’, the funky sounds from these guys is infectious! Always a fun time catching the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Up next was the legendary John Mayall, one of the founders of the British Blues scene, who mentored Eric Clapton early in his career. John Mayall’s vocals were great and his harmonica playing was fantastic. Stirring up some Blues in the afternoon sun had the fans dancing and taking it all in. Truly one of the greats.

For me thou was the anticipation of getting to see and hear Charles Bradley & his Extraordinaires since his fight with cancer in 2016. Looking ready to take on the the world, Charles Bradley exploded with his powerful and moving vocals and bringing his brand of soul music to the festival. Throughout the day I was telling people not to miss this performance, and it was truly well worth it. Charles Bradley is a force and I know he won many people over at Arroyo Seco Weekend.

Coming off that performance was going to be hard to follow as I made my way over to catch Alabama Shakes. I have loved their music since they broke out several years ago. Band Leader Brittany Howard is a powerhouse singer with a style all her own. Her infusion of southern soul and blues bring you in and the band is pretty damn tight. They performed to a huge crowd and were a great lead in for what was coming up next.

To close out Day 1 of the Arroyo Seco Weekend, on tour celebrating their 40th Anniversary together, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers hit the stage with the first song off their first album “Rockin’ Around (With You)” and then proceeded to churn out hit after hit from their extensive catalog. For over two hours Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers led the crowd through songs that spanned these past four decades.

In closing out Day 1, Arroyo Seco Weekend was impressive for all the rights reasons. Getting to the venue was easy as I was dropped off at a designated area, walked easily to the gates and got through security with ease. Another very nice aspect was the food offerings. culinary delights abound from gourmet entries, designer deserts, and libations overflowing. The staff was pleasant and eager to assist. Plenty of portables that were never crowded or a mess.

The only let down for me was that I was not going to make it to Day 2 which would feature a younger group of artists. Featuring Mumford & Sons, The Shins (with Los Lobos making a guest appearance), Weezer, Galactic, Fitz and the Tantrums, Andrew Bird, Lettuce and Lukas Nelson & The Promise Of The Real, just to name a few.

If the folks at Goldenvoice can keep the Arroyo Seco Weekend to this size with the this broad cross appeal of musicians, I’ll be looking forward to this festival every year.