Festival season is in full swing as indie enthusiasts headed down to Brookside at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Ca on May 13th for Just Like Heaven. This year's lineup included 20 impressive artists including Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, M83, Empire of the Sun, Ladytron and many more.
The schedule was released a week in advance so people had plenty of time to make a game plan on who to see and sadly miss. Right around noon doors opened and it was a mad dash to the stages. The festival is split up into two stages, the Orion and Stardust Stage. The stages are on opposite sides of the field so there was ample space for people to sit down and enjoy the music.
At the Orion Stage, Swedish indie rock band The Sounds were originally scheduled to begin the day but was forced to drop out because of visa issues. Fellow Swedes The Hives were announced as their replacement and delivered one of the best performances of the day. The band knows how to make an impression, dressed in their now signature white and black suits. Frontman Pelle Almqvist is a natural on stage. He's playful with the crowd, cracking jokes and getting them riled up with each song. The band is releasing their new album in 11 years, The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, on August 11 so expect more news from them this year.
After their performance, STRFKR took the stage. A much mellower set as they let the music do most of the talking. To enhance the experience, the band enlisted dancers dressed in astronaut suits to hype the crowd.
One of the biggest unknowns of the day was whether rapper Azealia Banks would perform for her 2:30 slot at Stardust Stage. As the singer is known for her unfiltered persona. Banks was 40 minutes late to her set, which earned some boos from the restless crowd. The boos were drowned out by cheers from her fans who were eager to see her. Banks made the best of the remaining 15 minutes by showing off her smooth rapping skills to her hits including "Liquorice" and "212."
In late 2021, New York rock group The Bravery announced their return to music after a seven-year hiatus. So it was a nice surprise to see them perform at the Orion Stage in the afternoon. This is the band's first major US music festival since their hiatus and had the entire crowd feeling nostalgic as they performed all their biggest hits including "Believe," "Fearless" and "An Honest Mistake."
Returning for a second year in a row was Canadian musician Peaches. If you had ever seen her live then you would know we were in for a treat. Peaches made a jaw-dropping stage wearing a bodysuit filled with multiple prosthetic boobs and lots of hair. Joining her on stage were two dancers also dressed in very risqué NSFW costumes. Peaches isn't afraid to push the envelope, she's an advocate of sex positivity and makes it known with her loud stage persona and music. The crowd loved her theatrical performance and activism with her outfits, earning the loudest cheers of the day.
At 6:15 pm, Future Islands took the stage at the Orion Stage. Frontman Samuel T. Herring was mesmerizing to watch. He has very unique and distinctive vocals -- can easily switch from crooning to loud growls reminiscent of death metal singers. Australian act Empire of the Sun brought party energy to the festival with their futuristic electronic set. Known for his extravagant costumes, frontman Luke Steele donned a floor-length coat with the words "Passenger Pilgrim Alien Traveler" written in the back and along his iconic white painted-on eye mask and fedora. The band had two dancers dressed in otherworldly outfits who pumped up the crowd. The set was filled with psychedelic lights and visual images. The set became a sing-along as soon as they performed the hit's "Walking On A Dream" and "Alive."
One of the most anticipated performances of the night went to MGMT. The band performed their 2007 debut record Oracular Spectacular in full for the first time, a one-of-a-kind experience. The band gave each song a unique and imaginative theatrical spin. The night began with a pantomime skit by a group of performers. Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser then appeared with "Time to Pretend." The show featured fun skits including a reenactment of how the band was created with big-headed paper mâche costumes and the band let loose mid-show with a hockey game. The band ended their set with a surprise performance of "Love Always Remains, the first performance since 2005.
New York City rock group Yeah Yeah Yeah ended the festival with a roaring performance. Karen O is a natural performer, very charismatic and engaging. It was nice to see guitarist Nick Zinner back in action as he battled pneumonia last year. The band are pros at what they do, delivering the best possible experience to fans who were waiting all day for them to perform. "This is a fuckin' deep cut" Karen O screamed as they performed "Art Star" for the first time since 2018 -- one of the biggest surprises of the night. The festival ended with a bang as Karen O destroyed her mic to the closing track "Date With the Night."
The festival knocked it out of the park bringing '2000s nostalgia for another year to Pasadena. It was great to see so many women-fronted acts on the lineup, something a lot of festivals can learn from.
For more visit, justlikeheavenfest.com