Paul Hebert

Sunset Strip Music Festival – 9/12/09

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Rock and Roll fans descended upon the world famous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood this weekend for the 2nd Annual Sunset Strip Music Festival.

The 3 day festival kicked off on Thursday night with a star-studded tribute to the legendary Ozzy Osbourne. The tribute was held at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd and featured appearances by Slash, Comedian Jim Norton, Billy Bob Thornton, Tommy Lee, Henry Rollins, and Billy Morrison just to name a few. The evening concluded with a performance by all-stars Camp Freddy featuring surprise appearances by Steve Stevens and Corey Taylor.

Friday night consisted of many up and coming bands performing in the six host clubs, The Viper Room, The Roxy Theatre, The Cat Club, Key Club, Whisky A-Go-GO and House of Blues. Highlights from Friday nights performances included Talib Kweli at the Key Club and Glay at the House of Blues, while Wild Child brought the spirit of The Doors to the Whisky A-Go-Go.

The main event however took place on Saturday, when the Sunset Strip was closed down for the first time. The closure allowed for 2 main stages to be placed in the streets at opposite ends which hosted some of the top bands in the business. The day opened with Fishbone bringing their funky beats to the East stage, while the clubs hosted some of today’s up and coming artists.

The East stage hosted many up and comers and some veterans including the already mentioned Fishbone, Unwritten Law, Shiny Toy Guns, Shwayze featuring Cisco Adler, and the club favorite LMFAO. The highlight of the East stage came mid-day when the Kottonmouth Kings brought their cannabis smoking vibe to the streets. The Orange County group had the crowd in a frenzy as they pounded out the hip-hop/metal/punk rock tunes. The group consisted of three front men Daddy X, D-Loc and Johnny Richter had everyone bouncing in unison in the streets. A massive pit formed in the middle of the street, which had LA County Sherriff’s officers a bit concerned. Officers began maneuvering themselves into pairs around the crowd, but the crowd remained rather well behaved, despite the constant taunting from the stage of “F#$K the Police.”

The West stage consisted of by far the best acts of the festival. Opening the day to the West was Palo Alto’s own female rockers The Donnas. Conspicuously absent from the live performance though was the bands normal drummer Torry Castellano. Replacement drummer was none other than Amy Cesari from The Demonics, who did such a fabulous job filling in that most in the audience didn’t notice the change. The Donnas were followed by a performance from Hawaii natives Pepper. Pepper worked the crowd through 45-minutes of their reggae-rock tunes.

The early afternoon was highlighted by the return of Korn. Having not played in Los Angeles for over two years, the hard core rockers brought their A-game and almost stole the show with a reworking their classic Freak on a Leash and a masterful rendition of the Pink Floyd classic “Another Brick in the Wall.” The crowd was absolutely intense during the hour long performance – many crowd surfers were hurled violently around while most pits engulfed much of the West side of the strip.

As the sun set behind the stage, the lights went to black and Jim Norton emerged from backstage to introduce his boy hood idol Ozzy Osbourne to the stage. Not to be outdone by Korn’s amazing set, Ozzy continued to pound the strip with a hit-filled set, which consisted of multiple encores. Everyone’s attention at the festival was on the west stage as Ozzy performed “Bark at the Moon,” “War Pigs,” and “Suicide Solution.” Ozzy put on a phenomenal performance full of all his normal antics. He repeatedly dosed the crowd with his foam shooting fire hose, and buckets of water all the while putting on one of the best performances I have ever witnessed. Ozzy proved last night that he still has what it takes to put on amazing performances. Hopefully this will lead to Ozzy returning to perform a full show sometime soon.

In only its second year, the Sunset Strip Music Festival has set the bar high, and will have a hard time topping this year’s billing. They are off to a great start and I if they keep improving as they did this year, it would be long before the SSMF is THE festival to attend for Rock and Rollers.

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Cold Flamez
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Iglu & Hartly
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Nico Vega
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Kottonmouth Kings
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Shiny Toy Guns
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Shwayze & Cisco Adler
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The Donnas
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Ozzy Osbourne
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