Breast cancer research will be one of the charities benefiting from the Rose City Rocks festival’s annual kickoff party, befitting the fest’s more intimate focus this year. City of Hope will also benefit from the raffle being held at the kickoff party at Old Towne Pub Wednesday night.
That night’s event is free, but attendees will have the opportunity to purchase event passes that will gain them entrance to festival shows Thursday through Saturday at the Old Towne Pub’s Band Stage and Pop Champagne & Dessert Bar’s Acoustic Stage. Those passes will only be available at the kickoff party and online at RoseCityRocks.com. Additionally, special wristbands colored pink in honor of breast cancer research will also be available. According to promoter/organizer Scott Hildebrandt, bearers of those pink wristbands will receive special treatment.
“If you have that, basically, the vendors and bars and restaurants agree to give you money off on your purchases of drinks and stuff like that,” Hildebrandt explains. “Plus I’ve got some volunteers walking around that have collected CDs and shirts from the bands; [they’ll] be giving away free stuff to those people with pink wristbands.”
As always, the purpose of Rose City Rocks is to celebrate local musicians and artists. Since launching Rose City Rocks in 1992 to promote a “Locals Only” compilation CD he had produced for club jukeboxes in Old Town Pasadena, Hildebrandt has expanded the event to include out-of-town bands as well as indie filmmakers. This year’s four-day lineup will host 40 bands, including longtime local scene stalwarts like Fatso Jetson, 8STOPS7, Spanked, Eggshell Egoz and Marcela Carmona. But one of the hallmarks of this year’s event is the number of acts playing there for the first time. Hildebrandt says he wanted to shake things up a bit.
“I really had more to pick [from],” he says, referring to the submission packages he reviews each year when pulling together the band lineup. “I didn’t want to do the same show [again], so I purposely went over the new submissions first and made picks from that, and tried to pick the best of the locals.”
Among his picks for Friday night: Oedipus, a powerhouse trio whose set on the Old Towne Pub stage promises to be a festival highlight. Based in Los Angeles, the trio’s energetic combo of huge, catchy pop hooks and melodies over slamming rhythms and emotive vocals has reaped enthusiastic support from rock industry honchos and made them huge in — go figure — Poland. Oedipus’ single “Tres Las” is included in a Polish edition of the “That’s What I Call Music” series alongside the likes of Snoop Dogg and Katy Perry.
Other artists worth catching: veteran rockers Fatso Jetson (at Old Towne Pub Thursday); neo-soulman Big Joe Hurt, Chris Laterzo’s Neil Young-style cosmic folk-rock and the Patchwork Quilt Fallacy’s dramatic rock (all at Old Towne Pub Friday); newly-transplanted-to-LA Chicago rocker Ted Wulfers and sultry songstress/acoustic stage hostess Manda Mosher (both at Pop Champagne & Dessert Bar Saturday).
Rose City Rocks will wind up with a mini shred fest, with progressively heavier sets from Die Fast, Lady Sinatra, Surgeon Marta and Domestic Fury on the Old Towne Pub Band stage Saturday night.
In addition to the music, Hildebrandt plans to welcome displays from local artists, although there will be fewer commercial vendors. And instead of blasting the radio between band sets at the pub, he says, “we’re going to focus on music videos and Web series stuff and indie shorts.”
Numerous logistical hurdles, including a move out of town while he was working in Vegas, caused him to scale back the festival to two stages and four days this year. Partly as a result, event sponsors and the full band schedule were still being confirmed at press time. Hildebrandt got more than a little help from his friends, particularly when it came to lining up acoustic talent, which is one reason why the stage at Pop will have different hosts each night.
“It’s getting too overwhelming,” he admits. “Next year, I’m going to partner up with more people.”