First City Festival Comes to Monterey with Beck, Phantogram, Best Coast, The National, The Naked And Famous, Dawes & More!
Posted On 29 Aug 2014
Tag: Beck, Best Coast, Blind Pilot, California, Coco Rosie, Connan Mockasin, Cool Ghouls, Cults, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Dawes, Doe Eye, First City Fest, First City Festival, First City Music Festival, Future Islands, Geographer, Goldenvoice, How To Dress Well, Lake Street Dive, Liars, Lo-Fang, Mid Matilda, Midlake, Mimicking Birds, Miniature Tigers, Monterey, Mr. Little Jeans, Music Festival, Phantogram, Quilt, San Fermin, Sleepy Sun, Speedy Ortiz, Strangers You Know, Survival Guide, Tanlines, The Family Crest, The Lonely Wild, The Men, The Naked And Famous, The National, The Stepkids, Tokyo Police Club, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
After a successful inaugural year in 2013, Goldenvoice returned to the city of Monterey with it’s Second Annual First City Festival, a boutique music and arts festival which celebrates indie and underground artists this past Saturday and Sunday. First City Festival is named after Monterey’s claim as the official “first capital” of California. Monterey was home to the state’s first theatre, public library, publicly funded school, printing press, and newspaper. Today it is one of California’s most desirable vacation destinations with attractions including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the annual Monterey Jazz Festival.
I was excited to finally visit this stunning city where a friend had just recently moved to and also attend First City Fest, which was held at the Monterey Fairgrounds. Its a pretty special location and this is a spot deeply rooted in musical history. The Monterey Pop Festival, a three-day concert held in June of 1967 at the Fairgrounds, and it was the first widely promoted and heavily attended rock festival, attracting an estimated 55,000 total attendees.
The festival is remembered for the first major American appearances by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Ravi Shankar, as well as the first large-scale public performance by Janis Joplin.
The second year of Monterey’s First City Festival touted an impressive collection of our indie favorites amidst a back drop of cotton candy, carnival rides, and a clown singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
We arrived just in time to check out summer festival darlings, Best Coast. Fans sang along to Bethany Cosentino’s every note to favorites like, “When You Wake Up,” “When I’m With You,” and their ever popular hit,”Boyfriend” with killer guitar melodies provided by Bob Bruno.
A new find for me was the band, Tanlines, who got the crowd in a happy go lucky mood. Another great new discovery was Mr Little Jeans, who got the audience to their feet during their techno laced cover of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs.”
Phantogram, who delighted the crowd with their trip-hop beats and soothing vocals, packed them in at the Redwood stage. The crowd sang along to favorites like, “When I’m Small,” “Don’t Move,” “Bad Dreams” and “Howling At the Moon,” and the fan favorite, “Fall in Love” which is their breakthrough hit and put them on the map for many.
Beck and his ridiculously fun band played hit after hit from every one of his albums. The cherubic frontman, showed us all that his rapping crooning, strumming, and harmonica skills are unparrelled. “Devil’s Haircut” echoed throughout the fairgrounds as the funky and soulful front man opened up his set. “The New Pollution,” “Get Real Paid,” and “Hell Yes,” as well as “Blue Moon,” “Lost Cause,” and “Wave” brought the festival to an epic and memorable climax.
The antics got so raucous that Beck stretched yellow police line tape across the front of Redwood stage. Beck‘s performance alone was worth the roundtrip 10 hour weekend road trip from Los Angeles to Monterey.
Though facing steep competition from LA’s FYF Fest and Burning Man, I will say that Goldenvoice has curated a singular awesome experience with First City. Not only do you get to discover emerging acts, drink delicious craft beer and eat a variety of good food, you might end up bumping into the musicians later on the festival grounds. What’s not to like about that?