Remembering Arthurfest


The Arthur table. Free mags!

Arthurfest is an as-yet unreleased feature-length documentary by Lance Bangs which captured the two-day music festival of that name in Barnsdall Art Park, Los Angeles. The festival took place ten years ago to the day, and was the first such event organised by the sorely missed Arthur magazine. I was fortunate to witness some of the stunning performances on the park’s tree-bedecked plateau overlooking East Hollywood. Bangs’ cameras were hard to miss at the time—I even photographed one of them—but I’ve never seen any of the footage of the event until the appearance of a teaser which has been posted in advance of a tenth anniversary screening this weekend at Cinefamily, Los Angeles. This is tantalising stuff for the way the cameras bring the bands so much closer than they were when viewed at crowd level. There was also a lot happening each day on three different stages, one of which was indoors in the park’s Gallery Theatre, so it was impossible to see everything. Earth and Sunn O))) played inside the theatre but I missed both their shows as a result of a vampire-like reluctance to queue for a seat in the merciless sunlight. (I did get to drink Jack Daniel’s with the Sunn O))) guys, however…) Fingers crossed that Bangs’ film gets a proper release soon so the rest of us can see it. Meanwhile, here’s a few of my photos of the event…

Update: Arthur‘s Jay Babcock alerts me to footage of the late Jack Rose at the Arthurfest. Also at Lance Bangs’ channel there’s some of the performance by The Juan MacLean. Thanks, Jay!



The main stage.


One of Bangs’ camera people.


The acoustic stage.


Food stalls.


The plateau nature of the park gives views over the city on three sides. On the left in the distance there’s the Hollywood sign, while perched on the hill in the centre is Griffith Park Observatory.


Another attractive feature of the park is Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Sunburned Hand of the Man involved in an Equus scenario. Some of the best performances were in the evening—Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth—when my camera wasn’t at its best.


Comets on Fire rocking out.


Matt Groening reaching for his BlackBerry.


The inevitable selfie-portrait.



The terrible sun.


The trees were so useful as sunshades that any available patch of shade was soon occupied.


T-shirts as sunshades.




Sunsets in Los Angeles are fleeting but spectacular, especially if the view is a good one.



Most of my shots of Yoko Ono are a blurry mess but her performance—a rare live musical outing with Sean Lennon and band—was extraordinary. This is one of the many moments I’d love to see again in Bangs’ film.

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