Get a Taste of Silverlake’s Annual Street

Words and photo by Gabriel Hutchison

Near the end of summer, in a trendy district of Los Angeles, I
endure the heat for a weekend of legitimate festival vibe. That’s
because for the past five years I’ve found enough reason to coat my
skin in sunscreen and tote a camera on my shoulder to take part in
, a diverse freakshow where almost every lifestyle and
hipster fashion type gets represented.
And it’s only logical that this
26-year-old event—which happened on August 26 and 27 this year—is
held annually in the artist-laden, gay-friendly neighborhood of

These days, Silverlake gets a lotta
press for its music scene, which is always properly represented at
Sunset Junction. In years past, freshman performances by bands such
as Silversun Pickups have generated a buzz. Most recently,
Monsters Are Waiting and Darker My
were sporting the hometown pride. But while such homegrown
artists are a familiar treat, the established acts that play each
year—which have included Sonic Youth, X, Guided by Voices, and the
reformed New York Dolls in years past—are the reason for
the continually larger attendance. The Cramps and
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club handled the duties as
2006’s rock headliners, with support coming from the Drive By
(whose singer Patterson Hood is pictured), Hank Williams III, and
Soul, dance, and R&B also have a place at Sunset Junction, as
this year’s appearances by Ashford and Simpson, Millie Jackson,
, and Nona Hendryx attest to.

Though musical acts are the centerpiece, Sunset Junction is not
your usual expensive-beer-and-concert-t-shirt party. Indeed,
offering more than simply good live music has long been the goal of
its organizers. The result? More of a streetfair, where artisans
and importers sell their unique, often labor-intensive clothing,
jewelry, and art—the kind that makes you happy when you’re able to
get your hands on one of the precious few in existence.

And then there’s the food, which harkens back to block parties
of old. Rather than healthy California salads with sprouts that you
might expect at other arty Southland fests, Sunset Junction offers
the real deal in fest food: grilled corn, greasy sausages, gyros,
lemonade, all of which should be washed down with the ample
people-watching that typifies this freaky scene.

All of that’s why I turn to hot weather, live music, grilled
goods, unique crafts, and fruity folk for one weekend every
year—especially because at the end of the day, Sunset Junction’s
proceeds go to funding community programs in Silverlake and other
surrounding neighborhoods. So join the crowds next year, and make
the trip down to L.A. for one memorable weekend.

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