When Coachella Meets Your Family – Arroyo Seco Weekend

Photos by Molly SHELTON
Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders rocked the stage at Arroyo Seco Weekend.


The air smelled of craft brews and Gucci perfume at last weekend’s music festival, Arroyo Seco Weekend. Located on the rolling fairways of Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena, millennials and their families got to share an event that both could enjoy featuring musical artists like Robert Plant, Jack White, Neil Young, Capital Cities and Kings of Leon, to name a few. Goldenvoice promotions, which also runs the hugely successful and enormous Coachella and Stage Coach festivals in Indio, provided enough of a variety of music to keep everyone happy without any of the drama one usually encounters at most festivals. I don’t know if the venue and the near-perfect California sun had anything to do with it, but mixed with local craft brews and cool exhibits that included the Jet Propulsion Laboratory geo-dome, this was a very relaxing music festival.

I didn’t realize the simplicity of this past weekend until the following day when I reflected on who I saw and what went on. There were no huge political stands, no mosh pitting, no overly drunken shenanigans – which I’m not sure is totally a good thing as the best stories usually come from shenanigans – but an overall family-friendly festival. There were activities to keep the kids busy when they didn’t want to sit on the beach blanket; activities like the Huntington Gardens science booth where attendees could look at flowers through microscopes and talk to representatives about plant life while getting free California poppy seeds to plant in their own yards. JPL’s geo-dome was filled with exhibits like a Europa underwater vehicle, a Martian astronaut photo op and a garden from another world. Kids young and old surrounded the geo-dome, hearing speakers from JPL discussing upcoming projects and, of course, discussing space. There was also the chance to meet the speakers and ask them all the space questions one could think of.

Jeff Goldblum (standing), who earlier this year debuted his jazz album on Decca Records, brought jazz to the Arroyo Seco Weekend.

The crowd was a mix of recycled Coachella-attire-wearing millennials and dads at the beach, visor hat and all. Beach towels and chairs were scattered among the lawns as people from all different walks of life sat next to one another, enjoying maybe the one thing they all had in common – the love of music.

And as far as that music is concerned, my favorite artist of the weekend was a surprise to me. Alanis Morissette absolutely dominated her late afternoon time slot, rocking the biggest smile for the whole hour she performed, and leaving the crowd in an uproar wanting more. This was contrary to the beginning of her performance when the crowd was moderate in size compared to some of the other acts that had performed the night before. By the end of her set it was like she was the closing act. Her voice echoed across the grounds, drawing people to the stage in flocks as she played all her hits and reaching all the notes that she had sung some 20 years earlier. She owned the stage, strutting around and commanding the crowd to sing along with her and, in case anyone else was counting, she drank four large VOSS waters in an hour between each song. That alone must be some sort of record and is most likely the reason she ran off stage at the end of her set instead of taking a bow with the rest of her band mates.

This year’s Arroyo Seco Weekend exceeded all expectations compared to 2017, its inaugural year. Yes, this event is merely 2 years old, which is probably the biggest reason why so many people in the community haven’t heard about it. However, I encourage everyone to take a look at next year’s event and put it in the calendar when the dates and artists are released. It’s an excellent first festival for any music festival newbies and at a great location. Hopefully it keeps the same attitude and mentality as it did this year, for years to come. For more information, visit ArroyoSecoWeekend.com.