After a successful inaugural edition in 2017, Pasadena, CA will play host to Arroyo Seco Weekend on June 23-24, 2018. The two-day festival features an eclectic mix of rock, jazz, blues, and Americana music, anchored by headliners Neil Young, Jack White, and Kings of Leon. While the stacked lineup promises good options everywhere you turn, these five acts should be near the top of any watch list.
1. Neil Young & the Promise of the Real
Neil Young alone would be a must-see for many festival goers. The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer behind such iconic hits as “Southern Man” and “Cinnamon Girl” has been headlining festivals for decades and continues to retain his popularity. Bolstering his “must see” status is that Young is once again backed up by Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real. When you blend Young's arsenal of hits with the driving Southern rock of Nelson and company, it's an easy bet for a fun time.
2. Margo Price
Margo Price's place at the vanguard of Americana's youth movement was cemented in 2017 when her second album, All American Made, landed on numerous “best of” lists. Price has gained her popularity by respecting the traditions of country trailblazers like Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson without feeling bound too tightly by them. Songs like “Pay Gap” and the catchy “Weakness” tackle heavy subjects with a sense of humor that just seems to work better in an outdoor setting.
3. Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra
In such a crowded festival market, anytime a festival gets an exclusive it moves to near the top of the must-see list, especially if that exclusive is Jeff Goldblum. Goldblum's set at last year's Arroyo Seco was widely regarded as one of the weekend's highlights and there's no reason to think that won't be the case again. Adding to the intrigue is the “what might happen” aspect of the always eccentric Goldblum's set. Last year featured movie trivia, a jazz cover of Tom Petty, and a round of “Who Would You Rather?” What might 2018 bring?
4. Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters
Joining Neil Young in representing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees at Arroyo Seco is Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. At 69, Plant still has the vocal chops to pull of many of Led Zeppelin's classics, interspersed with covers and new music from his 2017 release Carry Fire. Plant's band, The Sensational Space Shifters, are just that, capable of shifting between driving rockers, crooning Americana melodies, and bluesy traditionals seamlessly.
5. Gary Clark, Jr.
If blues is more your style, you'll want to be sure to catch Gary Clark, Jr's set at Arroyo Seco. The youthful guitar wizard has earned the respect of legends in the rock and blues community, leading him to share stages with the likes of The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, and Eric Clapton. Like Margo Price, Clark's strength is in honoring the core tenets of the blues without being shackled by them. Clark takes plenty of influence from rock, r&b, and even hip-hop to evolve the blues into its next iteration.