Review: Rain or Shine, Air + Style Brings the Noise

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EDM DJ Steve Aoki performs on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 during Air+Style at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. (Evan Solano/Living Out Loud LA)

EDM DJ Steve Aoki performs on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 during Air+Style at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. (Evan Solano/Living Out Loud LA)

Steve Aoki is a lot like the postal service, whether by rain or snow or sleet he will deliver.

Despite the inclement weather that descended on the second day of Shaun White’s Air + Style festival, there was a small but dedicated collection of rained out guests who showed up early to check out some great bands and witness the ski competition that was held on the fairgrounds 16-story high, 450-foot long ramp.

Los Angeles’ Tennis System kicked things off early on the main stage. The band, who are touring in support of their newest album Technicolour Blind, mesmerized the crowd with their unique blend of atmospheric electronics and heavy, melodic noise pop, similar to such contemporary act like Yuck, Cloud Nothings, and The Pains of Being Pure of Heart.

The band kept the audience engaged throughout their set and set the bar pretty high for the following bands on the second stage.

Soon after, on the main stage Deap Vally kicked into their mix of bashing hard rock and heavy blues. The female indie duo formed in Los Angeles commanded the stage like a dual-headed hydra and were perhaps one of the biggest surprises from the festival.

Their songs have a heavy –yet –melodic edge to it, imagine if you had Sheryl Crow fronting early-Queens of the Stone Age and you’ll get a rough idea of their style, definitely worth checking out in a smaller club setting but they definitely added a sense of color to the show, especially singer/guitarist Lindsey Troy, whose catsuit that looked like she walked off straight off a Cramps album cover.

Shaun White and Phantogram singer Sarah Barthel during Steve Aoki's set during the final night of Air + Style.

Shaun White and Phantogram singer Sarah Barthel during Steve Aoki’s set during the final night of Air + Style.

West Florida’s Surfer Blood brought their blend of sunny surf rock and indie rock coolness to an audience who were in desperate need of a break from the gloom of the overcast weather. It’s unfortunate the weather was as bad as it was, because Surfer Blood is definitely a band to be appreciated under a warm California sun, mid-deep into a cold beer surrounded by friends. Kicking off their set with the hip and catchy “Floating Vibes” the band played a mix of songs from their new album Pythons with crowd favorites from their 2010 debut Astro Coast.

Unfortunately by the time Cults hit the stage, the weather had taken a significant turn, but they still were able to garner a small audience of dedicated fans who were hellbent on dancing along and signing to the New York experimental pop duo. Singer Madeline Follin had the crowd pumped and singing along to the groups biggest hits, from “Abducted” to the ironically titled “Go Outside” due to the heavy downpour that had started as they played through their set.

The rainfall had really had a stranglehold of most the days events and performances, which was evident by the time the Flaming Lips had taken to the main stage. Singer/guitarist Wayne Coyne took to the stage to let the audience know that there had been some technical issues with band mate Steve Drozd’s equipment. The issue was eventually solved and the bands persevered through the downpour and were able to put on a spectacular light and stage show for the audience who were sure to be soaked from head to toe by now.

The veteran rockers played a wild set of their distinct blend of heavy psychedelic and progressive rock, closing out their set with the fan favorite “Do You Realize??”

But it was DJ Steve Aoki who brought the night’s most insane light show. From the moment he started his 75-minute set, the crowd was frenzied and did not care whether it was raining water or cake, which has become a tradition of Aoki’s.

The weather did however have an effect on the ski finals, since the torrential rainfall melted the ramp, so the winners, Gus Kenworthy (1st), Alex Bellemare (2nd) and Vincent Gagnier (3rd) were announced shortly before Aoki took the stage.

Air + Style was not without it’s set of troubles, the 30 minute to hour-long wait in line for beer, food and bathrooms and the persistent sub-par sound from the main stage are things that hopefully, the festival can work on amending in time for next year.

Air + Style did bring a much needed and diverse array of artists and athletes in a way the L.A. hasn’t experienced in sometime. Let’s hope that Shaun White and company can learn from these minor setbacks and really be able to ‘reign’ in on the potential success of the Air + Style brand.

Evan Solano is a Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering arts and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter: @evansolano
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