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Sights and Sounds of the First Venice Music Crawl

The Venice Music Crawl turned an unlikely stretch of Lincoln Blvd., between Sunset Ave. and Venice Blvd., into a destination for the kick-off music event of the summer.  The VMC was a day-long event that brought bands and DJs from all over the Southland to our favorite neighborhood haunts: Deus Ex Machina, Venice Love Shack, WitZend, Talking Stick, Floyd's Barbershop and Wurstküche. But it wasn’t all about the music. It was also a long awaited invitation to visit the quirky galleries, curated boutiques and local shops that have settled on the boulevard


At Deus Ex Machina, crawlers could grab a cup of coffee and lounge inside at the community table or grab a burger and take in the sun while listening to indie rock music. The OC band FoxHollowwhich describes itself as “downer music you can dance to,” bounced heads with their floaty synth loops, indecipherable vocal laments and awesome female percussionist. Deus was a great place to ease into the crawl.  

En route to WitZend, there was a wooden geometric seating area built on the sidewalk with the letters P.O.P. (Park On PCH) painted on the side. I walked into Tradesmen LA, a 
carefully curated shop of men's basics, to inquire about it with owners Doug Behner and Ruben Leal. Doug explained that the seating was actually a pop-up park. Brilliant! The renegade public art piece was conceived as way to create a pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Blvd., but had to be disassembled at closing time due to permit restrictions. Two doors down, is the General Store. One customer described it as, “a neat, eclectic collection of items that feels like it came from near and far, but everything fits together perfectly in one store like pieces of a puzzle.” Agreed. And I left the store with this awesome letterpress lunar calendar.  

Next stop, WitZend. This venue for me was the most enjoyable for listening to music —lots of seating, libations and nibbles, a raised stage and a nice sound system. I made my way upstairs just as songbird Jacqueline Caruso was sitting down at the piano accompanied by Dolce Wang on cello and Ariana Hodes on backing harmonies. The trio created a tangible hush in the room with their piano-driven ballads – summer lovin’ was in the air. Upstairs with me were two families who were doing the music crawl together, David Raymond with his two girls Stella and Gracie and Katie Reis with her son Alex. I asked David, a resident of Venice for over 15 years, what he thought about the VMC.

“I live 100 yards from here," he said. "Can I tell you how awesome it is to be able to bring my kids out and have them listen to all different kinds of music, have conversations with them about what they like and don’t like and do it all as a family? It’s great! I used to travel with the Grateful Dead. I would love for my kids to have a festival type of experience. In many ways this satisfies a part of that.  Did I mention it is 100 yards from my house?”

I think many of us felt the same way as David on Saturday, grateful to have live music in multiple venues so close to home.

I continued on my way, cruising by Venice Arts, which is a gallery space and so much more. Their mission “
is to ignite youths’ imagination, mentor their creativity, and expand their sense of possibility through high quality, accessible media–based arts education programs.” The downtempo house music wafting out of the gallery into the streets caught my ear, and the party on the roof caught my attention but I was on a mission to get to Floyd’s. Venice Arts had the only open access rooftop I saw that day.

The Venice Music Crawl would not be complete without a stop at Wurstküche. I ran into VMC creator Mark Rojas and event staffer Katherine Prendergast outside the beer and brat spot and asked him how it felt to see the event come to life.

“Many people put a lot of work into making this happen," said Rojas. "I see so many people smiling, riding their bikes down Lincoln. It feels really awesome.” 

My second to last stop was Floyd’s Barbershop which had all of the doors rolled up.  They were busy giving buzz cuts on one half of the shop and entertaining a hundred or so crawlers on the other side.  By 5pm the electro-booty bouncing beats of DJ GOJ!RA had the crowd feeling like backin’ it up and getting a little bit closer to one another. The warm late-afternoon sun kissed the crowd and made everyone look golden and beautiful. It was like an iconic summer snapshot. Oh, I also met Max Wolf of Kippy’s Non-Dairy Organic Ice Cream Shop who was passing out fliers for his new Truly Raw gourmet sorbet shop. If you haven’t tasted … you must! It’s raw summer on a spoon.

On my way home, I stopped by the Venice Love Shack for the first time. It makes me smile just being there. Everywhere you look is something colorful, unique, comfortable, interesting, curious or magical. One person described it as a “furniture, art gallery, performance space and chill zone.” It is a piece of art with a bunch of art inside that you can buy or play with.   

With the sun setting and the air turning chill, I turned my bike towards home and reflected on the Venice Music Crawl. I had heard some great music, met new people and stopped in a few shops. But more than that, I had an awareness of Lincoln Blvd. that I didn’t have prior to this weekend.  I want to go back and see how Doug makes his pop up park portable. I want to go eat strawberry coconut sorbet at Kippy’s grand opening and I want to make sure I’m on the email list for WitZend so I can catch more great music. The VMC was a great success, small but epic as promised. 

For some thought, the setting sun meant the day was just beginning, with the Do-Lab hosting it’s Lightning in a Bottle pre-party and charity event at the RG Club until the early hours of the morning.  It’s the one location I didn’t make it to; instead I finished my day with a crawl into bed.

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