It’s as if our prayers were answered this year at Just Like Heaven in Pasadena, California this year! With an insane lineup for any 20/30-something with an alternative taste, it was like a fun reunion you can bring the whole family to! From perfect weather to divine food and music to complement it all, you couldn’t help but have a good time.
On a rare overcast day, the weather was ultimately the perfect cocktail for a music festival. The cool weather took out the possibility of a bad sunburn, with a PERFECT peak of the sunshine during sunset for Chromeo‘s and The Shins’ sets. Free water stations were located throughout the festival and were extremely easy to find around the two main stage setups and a smaller DJ booth (with a dance floor!) in the straight-line route of the festival (literally, it was impossible to get lost, which is MY kind of place!). Also along the festival map, one could find some sick vinyl, grab a plant-based meal (or not, your choice), or even get some craft brews from the excellently decorated Space Craft.
If you pretend that it’s 2005 in your car like I do, man, was this the perfect festival for you.
Indie legends Interpol, Modest Mouse, The Shins and Franz Ferdinand graced JLH’s Orion Stage and Stardust Stage, alongside M.I.A, Bloc Party, Chromeo, Santigold, Peaches and Wolf Parade (the latter performing their 2005 hit album Apologies to the Queen Mary in its entirety). From the first performances of the day to the last, there wasn’t a dull second. And, it all started off with San Francisco local, Geographer.
Top Shelf had a wonderful opportunity to catch up with the man behind Geographer’s mastermind, Mike Deni, and talk about his summer whereabouts and happenings at this year’s JLH fest after his attention-grabbing set. I asked him if he noticed the insane difference in the crowd density at the end of the set compared to when he started; he laughed and stated, “Yeah, honestly it does [fill up]. You can’t really ask for anything more when you’re opening up the festival stage.” From the audience’s perspective, Deni was having the time of his life onstage and gave his fans — old and new — a ride of synth pop to awaken the senses and kick your butt into festi-mode. Just from looking around the thick crowd, it was clear that if you weren’t a Geographer fan before this festival, you definitely are now! You’ll want to keep an eye on Geographer, as the next year is looking pretty bright for Deni! He is recently celebrating what he declared was “the holy grail of music goals”, which was getting his new track, “The Reason”, featured in a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy (Season 18, Episode 16 — for those you want to check it out). There is something about your song being chosen to add a feeling to a visual story that is honestly the ultimate compliment. In addition to this bucket-list check-off for Deni, he also commented on how his drive to make this accomplishment a success also pushed his “soulful music from outer space” to incorporate new instruments and sounds (like guitar), bringing a more melodic, angelic sound to Geographer. Deni further stated that this uncharted shift is something that will certainly stay influential in new music to come. Feeling bummed about missing his SoCal set? Catch Geographer as they return to the Troubadour in LA to wrap up your summer on Aug 26th! Just don’t sleep on Geographer, whatever you do.
Other honorable mention shoutouts go to Peaches for the 20th celebration of her legendary album The Teaches of Peaches, which she blessed us with in its entirety along with a mind-blowing strip show. Franz Ferdinand played every time-warping hit we anticipated: “Take Me Out”, “Do You Want To”, “No You Girls” and “Walk Away”… just to name a few.
When Bloc Party took the stage, I swear, the entire crowd shifted into a turnt up vibe and just took off from there.
The evening’s headliners Modest Mouse, M.I.A and Interpol brought the whole festival home (ending at staggered times, to allow attendees to catch a both sets) and left the crowd walking to their rides and vehicles with a friendly afterglow (and people still making friends on the way to their cars). It’s no doubt that Goldenvoice has formulated a sweet spot for festival amenities, headliners and ticket pricing — and Just Like Heaven is our living proof. After nailing a perfect festival experience following a three-year hiatus, I’m only left to wonder what they can possibly top it with next year!? It has already been announced that 2023 tickets are available NOW without extra fees (only until June 30th)! Follow their social media for more details and grab your tickets now at the lowest price, because you will NOT want to miss your slice of heaven next year.
Photography by Franny Kovacs