GUIDES: One of the Hot Indie Band Discoveries From LA’s Local Festival, Echo Park Rising

Wrapup: LA Fest Yields New Music Finds Across The Board

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Chris Cogswell and his remarkable voice – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA – Echo Park Rising is more than just a little musical festival in one corner of Los Angeles. The 6-year-old event has come to be one of the major economic drivers of the area.

From the music perspective, EPR should be a place where music executives, agents and scouts walk around and talk to the musicians. Maybe that doesn’t happen any more in this DIY world, where musicians have to do their own promo, raise their own money to record and tour and grow their own fan base.

Instead, we find great bands playing to small audiences, small bands getting an opportunity to get on the bigger stages of Echo Park, and headliners commanding the late night slots at the Echoplex, The Echo and the Liberty Lot, located behind the great Taix Restaurant.

Liz Garo looks out over the crowds her event draws in Echo Park - Photo 2016 Donna Balancia
Liz Garo looks out over the crowds her event draws in Echo Park – Photo 2016 Donna Balancia

The Power Behind EPR

The powerhouse behind the fest is Liz Garo, who runs the show, booking bands into venues and keeping things running smoothly. And props go to SpaceLand, which basically donates its Echo and Echoplex to the festival in a revolving door of talented acts.

In its sixth year, the 2016 show brought Friday headliner Chicano Batman, Saturday punkers The Weirdos, and Meatbodies, which closed out Echoplex Sunday night.

Crowd favorites: Globelamp, Hammered Satin, Wasi, Lexie Rose and Froth.  These performers couldn’t be much further apart in genres, but they each have the own special appeal.

But every few years there’s one band that grabs the attention of industry people and concert-goers alike and this year it was the three-piece indie band, GUIDES.

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GUIDES Rock – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

‘A Blend of Sonic Youth and The Smiths’

GUIDES appeared quietly onstage — under the radar — with an early gig at the Echoplex. This group of three: Vocalist and guitarist Chris Cogswell, Jayson Larson on drums and Be Hussey on bass and guitar, may have taken the stage quietly, but that’s where their low profile ended.

GUIDES’ sound is big and commanding. The band’s poise makes it appealing to a broad range of indie fans.

They’ve performed only a handful of gigs, but their uniquely upbeat shoegaze-style music catches the casual concert-goer off guard as presented as a three-piece band, their sound is much fuller.  GUIDES is a blend of Sonic Youth, Sad Lovers and Giants and The Smiths all rolled into one.

Be Hussey of GUIDES - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia
Be Hussey of GUIDES – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Cogswell is clearly a star, with an alternative voice like that of any of the big new wave punk indie bands of the 1980s like Morissey. Larson’s drumming ranks up with some of the powerful hard rock drummers and he leaves little air up there. The basslines of Hussey keep everything together and all together, it’s an amazing unique yet familiar sound. Check them out on Soundcloud.

“Abstract Head” plays up Cogswells howling and unique tones, “Long Face” highlights the physical drumming of Larson and Hussey shows his diverse talents on bass with “Midas Eye.” The song “Pictures on Pictures” is simply unforgettable.

GUIDES’ Soundcloud page has the EP which can also be purchased on iTunes.

It’s bands like GUIDES that make you glad you came to a festival with more than 300 acts, because when you catch a star, you want to hang on for the ride.