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Hudson Block Party: A low-key WeHo music festival

Sunday's laid-back festival features an unexpectedly buzzy bill of local and national acts, including White Rabbits, LP and Haim and a DJ set by Of Montreal.

May 18, 2012|By August Brown, Los Angeles Times
  • The Hudson Block Party features live music, art, food & drinks and more.
The Hudson Block Party features live music, art, food & drinks and more. (Colin Young-Wolff )

Successful, micro-targeted neighborhood music festivals have been proliferating — including Make Music Pasadena, the Eagle Rock Music Festival, Venice's Abbott Kinney Music Festival and Echo Park's Culture Collide — and now we can now add "The Nice Stretch of West Hollywood That's West of Fairfax Avenue but East of the Sunset Strip Festival."

Sunday's festival is actually called the Hudson Block Party, and for a second year the classy-casual bar and restaurant that throws it has booked an unexpectedly buzzy bill of local and national acts, including White Rabbits, LP and Haim.

"Last year, we thought it would be busy, but there were lines all the way down to Fairfax," said Beau Laughlin, a co-owner of the Hudson and the festival's booker. "We had 4,000 people last year, and we expect this year to double that."

The market for low-maintenance block parties is bullish all over town, apparently. The Hudson, which opened in 2009, serves a menu of steak frites, cioppino and artisanal cocktails to a blazer-bedecked movie and media-biz crowd. Not the first place you'd look for a rock show.

But Laughlin wanted to open up the room to locals who wanted a rowdier time but wouldn't sell a kidney to get into the nearby Soho House. This year, they've raised the stakes with a DJ set from glam titans Of Montreal, other national acts and fast-rising locals, commandeering an adjacent parking lot to hold the new crowds.

The Sunset Strip Music Festival, which also happens in that area, has become an annual and popular staple for the leather-pants set. Laughlin praised that event as "a really good alternative festival," but stresses that the Hudson Block Party is for a "different demographic" than the type that plans its year around finding the perfect Coachella outfit.

"There's no high ticket prices, there's no VIP," he said. "It's a community event; you don't have to travel, and it was important to keep it really low-key."

The fest might also establish the Hudson as an acceptable westerly province of the Echo Park rocker empire. In a night life area known for quick exits and turnarounds, the block party is raising the Hudson's profile. Besides, when was the last time you went to a music festival with a decent risotto on the menu?

august.brown@latimes.com

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