Starry Nites Festival Has Mellow Kickoff

The Low-Key Rock Fest Featured The Kills, The Dandy Warhols, Cat Power

March 18, 2017 – Santa Barbara, California, United States: Starry Nights Festival (Thomas Long)
Thomas Long

Attendees to the inaugural Starry Nites Festival enjoyed a mellow weekend at Live Oak Campground on March 18-19. With a lineup that featured big names in rock and indie rock such as The Kills, The Dandy Warhols, Cat Power, and The Alan Parsons Project, it was a pleasing lineup for a largely L.A. crowd. The festival was on the quieter side, with the sprawling grasses of Live Oak making for a perfect place to relax. The atmosphere was among the friendliest of any festival we’d been to, and it showed in the sincerity of the performances; there was something special in the air, and definitely lots of stars in the sky until a fog rolled in. Yes, the festival market is highly saturated, and Starry Nites may need a grander purpose in future years to build its name and justify its admission price when there are so many festivals to choose from. With more of a pronounced regional presence culturally and commercially, it could be a thriving addition to the county’s rock scenes in addition to being an L.A. getaway. It was a memorably entertaining time and has potential for many great years ahead.

Here were some of the memorable performances:

The Strawberry Alarm Clock was one of the acts everyone was most excited about, and with good reason. Its biggest hit, “Incense and Peppermints,” came out a half-century ago. While its ’60s sounds felt at first almost quaint, the flute-sewn grooves proved irresistible, and hence proceeded the wildest and wackiest dancing of the festival these legs engaged in — and easily one of the best shows I heard. —RD

Kolars proved that up-tempo, funk-inspired glam suits the He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister pair, featuring a surprising cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “King Of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1.” —RD

Thunderpussy lived up to its name with stridently empowered femme rock, with songs such as “Fever” out-shredding many of its other rock contemporaries. Plus, the group did a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” —RD

She Wants Revenge meant business as it dominated the stage, donning fedoras and leather jackets. Its gothic cool and high-quality stage performance certainly met expectations, bringing a sizable crowd enthusiastically to their feet as the band closed with its single, “Tear You Apart.” —AB

The Dandy Warhols took to the stage right after night fell, illuminated by electric blue lights. Their performance was mellower than expected, and well-received. With vocals that almost seemed to echo into the night, their funkified, almost trance-like rendition of “We Used to Be Friends” was a real crowd-pleaser. —AB

The Kills closed down Saturday night, with lead singer Alison Mosshart taking the stage and immediately commanding all eyes on her as she strutted, danced, and got up close with the audience, smoke rising behind her. Her raspy, Janis Joplin–esque vocals, combined with hair flips galore, made it impossible to look away from the stage. —AB

Jesika von Rabbit was one of the most entertainingly out-there acts, with its finale “Friends in Low Places” featuring a bikini-clad Donald Trump dancer keeping things weird. —RD

Lumerians, on Sunday, easily won the best-dressed category at the festival, like sparkling grim reapers from a distant galaxy. The pulsing drill-bit whirr of their synths and pounding drums also made them one of the most hypnotically engaging. —RD

Cat Power gave a touching performance, one that felt impossibly intimate for a festival setting. Beginning with a few acoustic songs, she transitioned to a heart-wrenching medley on piano, moving from “Names” and “The Moon.” At the end, she said, “Thank you for letting me be myself.” —RD

Alan Parsons closed out the festival with classic rock wonderment, guitar solos soaring and synths washing down. It’s unfortunate not everyone stayed to hear it, as it was tucked at the end of a sleepy Sunday, but it was a reward well-earned for those who stuck it out until the end. —RD


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