Echo Park Rising is L.A.’s biggest free music festival, with a roster this year that counts almost 450 bands, DJs, artists, and curators. The scrappy festival (Aug. 17-20) has grown dramatically since launching seven years ago, and now sprawls out, with live music popping up in all the clubs, cafés, boutiques, and outdoor spaces of the East Side neighborhood, like our own little South By Southwest.
Also like South By Southwest, the fest is all about discovering new music to get excited about. Most performers at Echo Park Rising are locals, working the circuit of the city’s smaller concert venues (though there are more than a few bigger-name acts mixed in) and the booking spans every genre imaginable, from country to dance to rock. There are a lot of artists to sift through, even for the most dedicated music fan, so we’ve done the work for you and picked out 10 acts you don’t want to miss.
1. Moon Honey
This duo started making its musical magic down in the Louisiana bayou, but brought its quirky, eclectic “prog-pop” to L.A. in 2015. They’ve been praised by critics from NPR, Noisey, and the New York Times, for their creative, guitar-forward sound.
When and Where: Liberty Outdoor Stage, at the corner of Liberty and Reservoir, at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 19
If an upright bass doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of “coolest instruments,” you probably haven’t seen Miles Mosley play one. The jazz master and bass virtuoso has toured the world singing and playing with Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Lauryn Hill, and others, and, with his collaborative, the West Coast Get Down, headlined last year’s Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concert Series.
When and Where: Liberty Outdoor Stage, at the corner of Liberty and Reservoir, at 8:50 p.m. on Saturday, August 19
According to Harriet Brown, their sound is best described as “romantic funk,” and we wouldn’t be able to think of any better way to pin down the sophisticated R&B-based mix of organic strings, cool synths, and smart songs that has seen them pop up on taste-maker’s lists since 2014.
When and Where: Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Boulevard, at 8:20 p.m. on Friday, August 18
Sun-soaked singer-songwriter vibes, with just a bit of boho, is the name of the game from JEMS. Each of the three members brings years of experience in the music industry to the group, and a list of their past collaborators includes Sara Bareilles, John Mayer, and even that queen of the Laurel Canyon scene, Carole King herself.
When and Where: The Semi-Tropic, 1412 Glendale Boulevard, at 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 17
5. Water Slice
Fresh off the July release of Dream State, Water Slice is primarily the psychedelic-tinged power pop brainchild of musician Patrick Phillips, who has assembled a band around him that’s something of a supergroup of the L.A. scene, comprised of members who’ve played with Gardens and Villas, James Supercave, Cardiod, and others.
When and Where: The Lost Room, 1534 Sunset Boulevard, at 8:40 p.m. on Thursday, August 17.
Gavlyn, a Latina M.C. hailing from the San Fernando Valley, worked with Anderson .Paak on her 2016 release, Make Up For Your Break Up, one of five albums she’s released in her career so far. Her videos have been viewed 25 million times on YouTube, and she stands poised to be among hip hop’s next crop of superstars.
When and Where: The Semi-Tropic, 1412 Glendale Boulevard, at 11 p.m. on Saturday, August 19
7. Freedom Fry
Freedom Fry’s songs have been played over 30 million times on Spotify alone, soundtracked key scenes of Grey’s Anatomy and Netflix’s Love, and played for brands from Lanvin to Madewell, so there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard them somewhere. And, if you did, you may have found yourself instantly enchanted by the duo’s blend of pop, folk, and indie rock, all filtered through rose-tinted sunglass lenses.
When and Where: The Lost Lot Stage, 1539 Sunset Boulevard, at 7:40 p.m. on Friday, August 18
Americana crooner Brandon Stansell specializes in a Nashville-meets-SoCal take on country music, and is part of a growing movement of LGBTQ artists putting their own stamp on a genre where they’ve historically been less visible. On August 15, just ahead of his EPR appearance, he’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign to independently release his debut full-length album.
When and Where: The Semi-Tropic, 1412 Glendale Boulevard, at 5:30pm on Friday, August 18
If you’re looking for loud, Egrets on Ergot will deliver. The experimental post-punk outfit serves up big, mean guitars, screamed vocals, and old-fashioned intensity. Along the way, they mix in jangly melodies, complex percussion, and even the occasional saxophone moment.
When and Where: Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Boulevard, at 11:10pm on Sunday, August 20
Azul draws from a diverse, global sonic palette to create her distinctive music, which fuses tribal rhythms with modern grooves. Recently, she’s shared the FORM Arcosanti festival stage with Solange and James Blake, and been selected to perform at MoCA.
When and Where: The Echo, 1822 Sunset Boulevard, at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday, August 20
Echo Park Rising runs August 17-20 with performances starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 12 p.m. at various venues around Echo Park. Attending the concerts is free (upgraded VIP passes can be purchased for $35) and attendees are encouraged to roam between the various venues to catch a variety of acts. The main stage of the festival is open to all ages and is family-friendly, but some participating venues are limited to ages 21+.