Let’s face it, the Limousines are the best headliner Left Coast Live has had in its three years. They’re local, which is what I think this festival should be about, they’ve been enormously successful in a short time as a band, and I’ve never seen them do a bad show. Plus, they really threw themselves into this one, cranking the volume, blasting confetti and rocking incredibly hard. However long LCL lasts— and may it do so for many, many years—I suspect this headliner performance may not be topped by anything short of bringing the Limos back again.
They opened with anthems like “The Future,” “Dancing at Her Funeral,” and “Very Busy People,” with lead singer Eric Victorino bringing screaming conviction to the former and Gio Giusti packing electroclash touches into the latter, while drummer Dino Campanella flat-out pulverized his drums to get an epic beat. While ripping through most of the tracks from their debut album and a few older songs, they also covered New Order’s “Temptation” and, in a moment that had to be seen to be believed, Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.” (“We just wrote that song this morning,” joked Victorino.) By the ending, they had the audience jumping with “Internet Killed the Video Star.”
This year was also the best set-up the festival has ever had. Simply and elegantly designed, those two odd little alleys running perpendicular between South First and Market turned out to be the ideal space for it. With tables out along the sidewalks between stages, it had a cool, urban vibe.
Not everything went perfectly; mostly, there weren’t nearly as many people as there should have been. LCL founder Chris Esparza estimated a couple thousand over the course of the night, and he seemed happy enough with the festival’s growth. It was a step, but this year’s festival deserved more. Esparza and the people in the local scene who helped him put this together—former 92.3 program director Michael Solari, Barbara Wahli of Barb Rocks, Thomas Aguilar of Ungrammar, Michael Brilliot, Sheila Dowd, John Down and others—did a fantastic job.
I also think the number of non-local groups could be trimmed to make room for more of the South Bay-based stuff we saw Saturday from the Limos, Ben Henderson, the Trims and others. The popularity of the Good Karma showcase showed there is huge appeal for many of the local subscenes, and some of the different factions of the scene can be better integrated in the future. But this was a great start (or re-start, if you will) for a festival that’s finally finding its place.