Sometimes ya gotta wonder why festival promoters think music isn’t enough, especially when the music is being performed by bands who built their reputations, and audiences, with killer live shows. But in the case of Saturday’s Vintage Vibe Fest, organizers hit on a clever idea.
Billed as a “music and lifestyle festival,” the family-friendly gathering presents the Shelters, Las Cafeteras, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Eryn Allen Kane, Low Cut Connie, the Dip, the Explorers Club, Dustbowl Revival, the Junglecats, Lizzy and the Triggermen, Phat Cat Swinger, and UltraViolet Groove on three stages on the racing infield at Santa Anita Park, with additional performances throughout the day by the Flux Capacitors. Food trucks, a bar, an arcade, photo booths, classic cars, face painting and a playground for kids will be available on site, while a barber and a stylist will be on hand for attendees who opt to set appointments (at vintagevibefest.com/booking) for pin-up photo shoots, “retro makeup sessions” and/or haircuts so they can better slip into the back-in-time spirit of the occasion.
Such attention to detail is typical of rockabilly shows, where retro style has been fetishized to such a degree that women daring to show up without the de rigeur Bettie Page bangs and makeup or guys forgetting to slick back their hair and precisely cuff their jeans just so can be made to feel unwelcome. Thankfully, Saturday’s lineup encompasses blues, funk, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, soul and swing as well as some rockabilly, and the quality level is consistently solid. That said, the fest’s catchy slogan — “21st-century bands with a 20th-century sound” — fits some more comfortably than others. The not to be missed Low Cut Connie, currently touring behind their new album “Dirty Pictures (Part 2),” have finessed an eclectic, sometimes delirious meld of influences whose fusion feels thoroughly contemporary despite its component elements (think Elvis Costello meets INXS meets Rufus Wainwright, and then twist). Something similar can be said of East LA’s delightful folk-pop ensemble Las Cafeteras, whose recent songs “If I Was President” and “Señor Presidente” were surely inspired by the current Oval Office occupant.
On the other hand, Seattle soul septet the Dip could have time-traveled from the late 1960s or early ’70s with jammers like “Ain’t Necessary (The Prince)” and “Sure Don’t Miss You,” and midcentury New Orleans is rarely more than a dance move away when local favorites Dustbowl Revival swing into “Call My Name” or “Never Had to Go.” Both bands are likely to deliver memorable sets. And some savvy vendor could pocket a tidy sum offering Capezios the way bowling alleys rent out shoes.
Vintage Vibe Fest takes place rain or shine from noon ‘til 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Santa Anita Park, 285 Huntington Drive, Arcadia; general admission tickets are $95, and available at vintagevibefest.com/tickets. For more info, visit vintagevibefest.com