BY JOSE MARTINEZ
What lasting memory will I take away from the Six Annual Sunset Strip Music Festival (SSMF)? Would be it the star-studded tribute to festival honoree Joan Jett on opening night—followed by a rockin’ performance by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts? Or the swank rooftop party at the Andaz Hotel the following evening? Or the all day Saturday street fest where nearly 40 bands performed on two outdoor stages on Sunset Boulevard, as well as at The Roxy,Whisky A Go-Goand an extra outdoor Viper Roomstage.
No, sadly it was the stinging stench of a scam posed by a festival promoted parking structure, where it took nearly 90 minutes to exit from a simple three floors underground. It cost $10 to park at The Sunset and because cars were so backed up, and the structure is mostly unmanned, by the time drivers reached the exit their 15-minute grace period had expired and they were being charged an additional $12. Well, nobody was falling for that scam so cars just didn’t move. Why nobody simply drove through the barricade was beyond me.
An hour and half later, by the time I could see the outside world for myself for myself, I saw a lone employee running back and forth between two exits trying to charge drivers or let them out; pretty pathetic. And it was par for the course when you think about Jack Daniels gauging concertgoers with $10 for watered down Jack drinks or $20 for a double. Thank God we were smart enough to drink at the club bars where we could pay less for watered down cocktails.
The three-day SSMF started on a high note when Joan Jett received the “Elmer Valentine Award.” As a multi-platinum selling rock goddess, Jett has been a pivotal figure in the history of The Sunset Strip. As a member of The Runaways, and with Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, she has released eight platinum and gold albums, in addition to nine Top 40 singles, including the classics “Bad Reputation,” “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “I Hate Myself For Loving You” and her cover of “Crimson and Clover.”
The VIP event included presenters Carmen Electra (still looking smokin’ hot) and comedian Margaret Cho, as well as Pat Smear, Exene Cervenka, Kelly Osbourne and radio personality Rodney Bingenheimer. Proving who the clear star of the night was, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts delivered a solid set loaded with his hits and crowd favorites that made a concrete statement that Jett is still a force to be reckoned with.
The hot ticket Friday night was former Stone Temple Pilots’ singer Scott Weiland playing the first of two sold out shows at The Viper Room, but that was part of the club’s twentieth anniversary celebration and not the SSMF, but still, it created a lot of buzz and action on The Strip.
Saturday’s street festival, which takes place in The Sunset Strip’s music venues, closing traffic between Doheny Drive and San Vicente Boulevard, always creates a premier local concert destination with two outdoor stages, beer gardens, an artist autograph tent, an outdoor VIP rooftop lounge, VIP Lounge at On The Rox, food trucks, and this year, a live art guitar painting by street artist Gregory Siff and Ethos Gallery along with interactive experiences.
The concert lineup was probably the weakest yet with Linkin Park (above) serving as headliner. Black Rebel Motorcyle Club (above) offered a genuine rock sensibility, delivering a great and thunderous rock set early in the evening. Hip-hop proved popular with performances from Warren G., Slick Rick & Doug E. Fresh, as well as Wale (below). Other acts on the bill included Street Drum Corps, Finch, Awolnation, Orgy (below) and The Last Internationale.
While this year’s SSMF, at least the outdoor festival part of it, wasn’t as solid as year’s past, it still offers a great rock concert right in the heart of the city. Hopefully next year greedy minds won’t be prevalent and sour what should be a great time.