It’s all about music, fashion, food and fun at this weekend’s Abbot Kinney Festival
By Christina Campodonico, Hannah Levy and Bliss Bowen
The final Sunday in September marks the return of the Abbot Kinney Festival, when America’s coolest block once again showcases the creative energy that shaped it into an international cultural destination.
For locals, the festival’s signature beer gardens are of course a major draw, but there’s so much more to see, hear, taste and experience.
XYLØ + Corey Harper @ The Westminster Stage
There was no missing XYLØ when she took to Rag & Bone’s makeshift outdoor stage last week for an invite-only set that offered a sneak peek of her headlining performance this weekend. Adorned in a jet black tracksuit circa the early aughts (and courtesy of the retail brand) the 24-year-old pop singer was a black velour spot in a sea of distressed denim.
But then XYLØ (aka Paige Duddy) has never had a problem cutting through the noise. In 2015 Paige helped her brother, music producer Chase Duddy, create a 40-second track for a Pacsun spot starring Kendall and Kylie Jenner. That song — the first they’d ever produced together — racked up 1.6 million listens on SoundCloud within days. The North Hollywood siblings came into an avid (and international) online following overnight. So they became a band. In the next two years, they went on a national tour and released some critically-hyped singles, including the wildly popular electro-pop/house tune “Setting Fires” with The Chainsmokers.
Today, XYLØ is Paige’s solo project, an evolution that feels natural for her buzzy, female-first lyrics and Gwen Stefani-inspired bite. She’s bubblegum, with a barb.
XYLØ’s Rag & Bone set included acoustic, stripped down versions of her latest releases, including the sultry, synth-infused jam “I Don’t Want to See You Anymore” and “Tears and Tantrums,” a dance-y anthem co-written with British electro-pop artist, Charlie XCX (hear: XYLØ’s soft “a” in “can’t” for sonic proof of the across-the-pond collab).
The band — Paige Duddy, keyboard player Nick Truhan, and guitarist Lee Newell — go on stage at 5 p.m., following a set from sentimental singer-songwriter Corey Harper, who came into his own at Winston House and is opening for XYLØ on a California tour next month.
Get your tracksuit ready and catch them at The Westminster Stage (on the corner of Westminster and Abbot Kinney) for free.
The Morning Yells @ The Andalusia “Locals” Stage
The pleasures of a melodic pop hook are timeless, especially if it’s married to a relatable lyric. Judging by their addictive tunes, guitarist/songwriter Phil Stancil and bassist sister Laura Stancil internalized that truth while growing up in Michigan, where they played in their family’s band and got schooled on the finer points of roots rock, folk music, and how to play to the room. Now beach- and denim-loving Angelenos and backed by keyboardist Jacob Boll, drummer Curran McDowell and guitarist Trevor Smith, they released their first EP “Proper Wilted” in 2017 as the Morning Yells, and have tightened their onstage dynamics this year playing festivals and club gigs.
Credit the Stancils’ sibling blend for the harmonies that dress their music like a silk ribbon. The chiming guitars of roll-down-the-windows rockers like “She Got Time” and “Must Be You” have earned the band favorable comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, Motown, and the War On Drugs, and the shimmering keyboard lines and easy-grooving arrangement of new single “Half Speak” more than whet the appetite to hear the rest of their forthcoming album with producer Clay Blair. Taste their homegrown music at
5 p.m. at The “Locals” Stage, curated by Venice musician Matt Ellis, on Andalusia and Abbot Kinney.
Winston House x Street Art House: Joseph Lee
Sometimes a wonderful symbiosis happens when two art forms meet. You may see such cross-pollination at the Westminster Stage, where artist Joseph Lee will be live-painting from 2 to 6 p.m. as part of a special collab between Winston House and Street Art House. Lee, who integrates garment materials into his large-scale portraits of human faces, will interpret the music of artists playing the Westminster Stage, including Corey Harper and XYLØ.
Whether Lee chooses to riff on the performers’ visages or the faces in the crowd, the results promise to be intricate. Blending thickly applied paints with carefully stitched fabrics, his portraits are an exuberant meeting of photorealistic precision and unbounded abstraction that really invite you to take a long and deep look.
Populated mostly by shops only the 1% can afford, Abbot Kinney can often feel too much like a fashion runway (cue beautiful people in wide-brimmed hats and expensive sundresses trying to look like they just put themselves together). But fashion is a much more egalitarian affair during the Abbot Kinney Festival, where you can buy a cool T-shirt for $10 (vendor Bad Pickle Tees is known for selling its rad graphic tees for $10) and find artisan jewelry that won’t break the bank. (Check out Agapantha Jewelry or Hide and Stone for designs under $30.) Shows off your Venice pride and stop by the Art Imprinted booth to peruse tees featuring the artwork of Venice artist Patrick Marston; Orangeheat for vintage-inspired tees designed in Venice; or pick out some yoga pants from local apparel company Electric & Rose, which brings out its collection of Venice Beach-inspired active wear.
Food trucks serving up savory grub abound at the Abbot Kinney Festival — Baby’s Badass Burgers, chef Albert Shim’s Belly Bombz (burgers and wings), and Roy Choi’s famous Kogi truck to name a few. But there’s plenty to satisfy your sweet tooth as well. Santa Monica-founded Vegaron is bringing “cruelty-free” vegan macarons with unusual flavors such as lavender or Matcha green tea and classics like chocolate and vanilla, all without any egg whites or animal byproducts. For dessert eaters who have no qualms with dairy, the Ridges Churro Bar truck offers an assortment of cleverly clad churros dunked in ice cream and adorned with ingredients such as Fruity Pebbles, strawberry cheesecake bits and Nutella. You can customize your own dessert crepe at the Black Flour truck, and EAT.LOVE.YOGA. offers a variety of sweets, from decadent cookies named after yoga poses to delectable brownies, donuts and rolls.
The Kidsquad @ Abbot Kinney Blvd. and Main Street
There may be beer gardens for the adults, but the real fun is at the Kidsquad, where pint-sized festival-goers can take a whirl on the merry-go round, try their hand at rock climbing, get their faces painted or tie-dye a T-shirt. A family parade featuring the Samba-reggae beats of Samba da Mudanca and Sandra Sandia helps to usher in the family-friendly activities at 9:45 a.m. Game, ride and activity tickets start at $1 and go up to $100 for an unlimited wristband.
The Abbot Kinney Festival is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 30) on Abbot Kinney Boulevard between Main Street and Venice Boulevard. Admission is free; or $5 to $35 for beer garden access. Visit abbotkinney.org.