Jubilee Fest Rocks New Arts District Venue

The alternative music and arts festival pulls off its first year in the new location (almost) without a hitch

The tunes were rocking, the beats were popping, and, thankfully, the indie music crowd turned out in droves. After three years in Silver Lake, the Jubilee Music & Arts Festival staged its first event in its new downtown location this weekend – and it was a success.

For most of the weekend, the love was evenly spread over three music stages and one comedy/literature stage, giving deserving up-and-comers a chance in the spotlight. Headliners Black Lips and The Drums amassed large crowds, along with surprise festival star Riff Raff, a Houston rapper and Internet sensation whose Saturday night set on one of the smaller stages was so popular it forced organizers to push back The Drums’ performance on the main stage. A surprise cameo from fellow hip-hop act Far East Movement during Riff Raff’s performance added to the excitement.

Both sets by Black Lips and The Drums were, unfortunately, interrupted by technical difficulties. Chalk it up to growing pains. That didn’t stop both bands from giving memorable performances. Black Lips’ was complete with a band-sanctioned toilet papering of the stage and a full-blown mosh pit for old school punk ambience. We can’t really fault the tech issues because they led to a classic rock and roll moment when Black Lips bassist Jared Swilley smashed his instrument to smithereens out of sound-related frustration (though we suspect it wasn’t the bass’ fault).

Among the lesser known artists who delighted with fantastic sets were Canadian solo artist Calvin Love, Bjork-esque otherworldly duo Oh Boy Les Mecs, and garage pop outfit Pangea, who were the first to hit the festival with an effusively energetic performance on Friday afternoon. Their cover of The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” was a pleasant surprise. Their defiant attitude lent the song a hint of sarcasm without detracting from its starry-eyed romanticism.

All told, it was a triumph in relocation. The next hurdle will be ensuring that the same vacant lot and warehouses are available next year. Located amid warehouses on the remote southeast edge of DTLA (near Villains Tavern and not too far from Church & State, Little Bear, Daily Dose, and Handsome Roasters), it might be taken over by the next Angel City Brewery or Hammer and Spear. It wouldn’t surprise us, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Jubilee Fest becomes a mainstay in downtown L.A. for years to come.