Rock bands Detour to streets of L.A.

William Kammer

On Saturday night in downtown Los Angeles people took to the streets and surrounded City Hall. Blocks were shut down around the L.A. Times and official city buildings. It was reported that 15,000 people showed up on that night. No major violence occurred on Saturday, but there was yelling, screaming, banging, crashing, spinning, beat-boxing and Beck.

City Hall and the surrounding blocks were shut down on Saturday night for L.A. Weekly’s first annual Detour music festival, which lasted from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Under the black-bagged stop lights, three stages were set up so the 18 bands could play their sets. Along with the band stages, there was also a DJ stage set up in St. Vibiana’s Church.

The festival kicked off with less popular bands playing two or three at a time, having to compete for an audience. Headliners Beck, Queens of the Stone Age, Basement Jaxx, and Peeping Tom stole most of the crowd away from the others playing on different stages when they were on later in the night.

While most came to see Beck or QOTSA and did not show up until around 6 p.m., the best show was put on by Mike Patton’s new project, Peeping Tom. Patton might be better known as the lead singer of Mr. Bungle and Faith No More, but in a year or two he will probably be known for this band.

The band was introduced by an extremely short man who covered his face in a blue hooded sweatshirt. After the man talked for a while he revealed himself as Danny Devito and introduced the band as an incredible one.

Patton mixed genres together and created a pop/funk/rock/rap sound that his band somehow kept up with. On stage, Patton sang with the basic instruments of a rock group, except in addition to the guitar, bass and drums, there were turntables, a background singer, a beat-boxer and a keyboard.

Smoke from smoke machines engulfed the stage from behind as the band played. When Patton said the lyric “Now roll it up and smoke it again,” from the band’s new single, “Mojo,” the crowd made sure Patton was getting smoke from the front of the stage as well.

Then came one of the main headlines of the festival.

Fresh off releasing his new album, “Information,” Beck gave his L.A. fans a visit and opened with one of his most popular songs, “Loser.” The song set him up to start playing tracks off of his new album. The music performed by Beck was good, but he didn’t put on much of a show, and instead he had his puppets do it for him.

In the background of Beck’s set was a screen that projected puppets of the band and the puppets were lip-syncing the songs perfectly. As the puppets danced around and sang, Beck stood around and sang while playing guitar for most of the show. The music was another step forward in Beck’s musical progression, and the crowd didn’t seem to mind his stationary position as his music made the audience move.

The show was not over after Beck. As Beck’s set was cleared, a new set was made for QOTSA. The band had a good set, performing older songs along with some of their new ones. Lead man Josh Homme told the crowd, “I appreciate your appreciation for the old stuff.”

People started crowding around over at the stage QOTSA was going to play on before Beck was done with his set. The last band scheduled to play the festival was QOTSA, and few left early to beat the traffic.

As the festival continued throughout the night around City Hall and the area picked out for the new police headquarters, beer covered the ground, along with cigarette butts. Marijuana smoke filled the air in random spots throughout the night, and not just around the medical marijuana booth.

A person listening to Blackalicious, the token rap group of the festival, said that most people, like him, would smoke their joints and pipes in the bathrooms. He said he was searched at the gate, but very poorly. He regretted leaving the brandy he was drinking outside, he said, because he could have snuck it in and avoided the ridiculous beer prices.

Vendors and food stands lined the streets leading up to the stages. The free junk vendors gave out ranged from lighters at the medical marijuana information booth to concert tickets at radio station booths. The typical clothing and accessory shops were present as well.

The food and drink were outrageously priced, but that is expected at a musical event such as this. The tiny cups of beer were $6 and wine margaritas were $7. People complained about the wine margaritas, and said they were weak.

Food could not be found for less than $5, and that was for chips and guacamole. With a chicken skewer going for $7 and a gyro for $9, people still crowded the food stands so much that they blocked the human traffic traveling from one stage to the next.

Some kinks could have been worked out in the planning of the event, such as the food lines blocking people going to the stages, but this is the festival’s first attempt. The festival was an overall success, and in future years the Detour Festival will probably do nothing except improve.