Pasadena Fest Draws Mixed Music Demo
By DONNA BALANCIA
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ripped through the hits and put on an award-worthy rock and roll performance at the first-ever Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival in Pasadena.
The first day of the inaugural Goldenvoice event drew fans of Petty and Alabama Shakes, the latter of whose fan base concentrates mainly in the under-35 crowd. But up-and-coming and established rock, blues and Americana bands filled out the remaining weekend slots.
Estimates pegged the Saturday crowd size in the range of 45,000-50,000.
Most of those attendees Saturday came for the headliner, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, celebrating a 40th anniversary tour. They did not disappoint.
The Hits Keep Comin’
Petty and his Heartbreakers brought out hit after hit, getting the devoted to their feet.
Highlighted by a backdrop of outstanding video work and complemented by a group of remarkable musicians, Petty took the stage with superb energy and humor.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers opened with “Rockin’ Around,” followed with “Mary Jane,” “You Don’t Know How it Feels,” “Forgotten Man,” “You Got Lucky,” and the anthem “I Won’t Back Down,” and other hits before and closing out with an encore of “You Wreck Me,” and “American Girl,” and taking time for a few stories along the way.
“They put on a great show,” festival attendee Justin Hagler said. “I’ve seen them 14 times, and it never gets old. True professionals.”
Petty’s partner-in-arms, Mike Campbell, was wearing dressy garb — a Japanese-style shirt — and trademark hat, and showed his prowess as guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire. Petty regaled the crowd with the story of how the two met back 47 years ago in Florida.
“In 1970, I went to look for guitar player to put together a band and saw an ad, there was no phone number, just an address, so I drove out there and it was a sketchy-looking place,” he said. He added that his soon-to-be colleague “came out packing a 90-pound Japanese guitar plugged the thing in and played ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ and when he got to the end, I said ‘You’re gonna be in my band forever.’ And he is.”
But his other bandmembers all have a story too – a mix of longtime pals and colleagues including Scott Thurston, Benmont Tench III, Ron Blair, and drummer Steve Ferrone.
Alabama Shakes put on their ripping blues rock show with typically outstanding vocals and great guitar work.
Shakes, as well as the Taylor Goldsmith-helmed Americana band Dawes, may have gained new followers among the Petty lovers at the Oak stage.
On the Willow stage earlier, Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra attracted its largest crowd to date. His band has had a regular gig at Rockwell’s for a couple of years. Star appeal goes a long way.
The highlight of the day was Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, whose cancer diagnosis loomed over the crowd as he sang the blues songs that have made him famous. Not a dry eye was in the house at many points during the show as the audience was touched by this legendary performer who gives his all to the fans.
“If I could come out and hug every one of you I surely would,” he said. It is because of the love of the fans he proclaimed that he is cancer-free.
The food ran the gamut from designer hot dogs to spicy pizza and organic ice cream but the real headliner was the craft beer that drew long lines on a hot Pasadena day.
Blues great John Mayall was also on hand to wow the crowd.
Sunday: Mumford and Sons, Weezer
Mumford and Sons, Weezer, Fitz and the Tantrums, ZZ Ward, The Mowgli’s and Magic Giant take The Oaks stage, The Shins headline The Sycamore stage and Con Brio and Lettuce are on The Willow stage.
NOTES: Photo booths seem to be the marketing tool of favor as advertisers ranging from liquor companies to tourism bureaus all drew in concertgoers to strike a pose …
Lockers are available to rent on the grounds and there is shuttle service to the Rose Bowl adjacent site. Advice: Read security rules before passing through the metal detectors, info is on the website.