Indie-pop ensemble Salt Petal headlines main stage at Pasadena ArtWeekend Sunday
The 7th Annual Pasadena ArtWeekend, taking place Friday through Sunday, aims to shine light on Pasadena’s myriad cultural offerings. In the process, it also hopes to identify common ground between diverse cultures and art forms.
Many of the weekend’s events spotlight local cuisine, art and dance. On Sunday, the main stage in Old Pasadena will host half a dozen groups, including Mojacar Flamenco and Ramya Harishankar’s Arpana Dance Company, which embody the concept of a “cultural dance festival.” Headlining that stage will be LA indie-pop ensemble Salt Petal, whose trilingual music handily fulfills ArtWeekend’s mission.
While other metropolitan centers renowned for their musical communities — Austin, say, or Portland or Nashville — are associated primarily with one particular sonic identity, Los Angeles is singular in that it encourages artists to upend conventions with new sounds. In that regard, Salt Petal’s enterprising members are emblematic of LA bands in that they create unexpected rhythmic and instrumental combinations that reflect the city’s mix of ethnicities, languages and inherited cultures.
“Hear the new sound in my bossa nova/ …You know it’s time now to learn Portuguese/ It’s time now to learn what I know and what I don’t know,” accordionist Autumn Harrison sweetly coos on “Baby,” as chunky guitars, shakers and keyboards swirl around her. It’s a melodic highlight of Salt Petal’s recently released EP “Tip of the Sunfish,” a breezy companion to its more elaborately arranged 2009 full-length “Say-So.” The five “Sunfish” tracks meld elements of ’60s rock, ’80s pop, cumbia, Argentinean folk and surf twang. In rhythmic contrast, the sultry “Sabotage” is grounded by guitarist Rodrigo Gonzalez’s fluid leads, and “Songs I Used to Love” sounds a bit like the Bangles gone tropical. The video for “Songs I Used to Love” is typical of Salt Petal’s disarmingly creative approach, with pantomime, impressionistic artwork and cartoonish animation embellishing the band’s performance in a house. Colorful visuals are a hallmark of their live shows as well.
Salt Petal should be familiar to locals who head-bobbed and danced during their sets when they played the Make Music Pasadena festival and Old Towne Pub, or anyone who caught their pre-show performance before Lila Downs’ concert at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex last month. Wear your dancing shoes and expect some goofy good humor at their performance Sunday.
Salt Petal headline on Pasadena ArtWeekend’s main stage, 35 N. DeLacey Ave., Old Pasadena, 5 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. For more info, go to pasadenaartweekend.com. To learn more about the band, visit saltpetal.com.