Waters performs at KCRW 'Summer Nights' stage

Community Trumps Music

Images by Jacks Olsen
Written by Jacks Olsen (Editor)

A Curmudgeon's Guide to Having Fun.

make As an active member of Generation Entitled, I feel like it’s my inherent duty just to debase and shit-talk every fun thing that comes along my way. Generally speaking, you best believe that free community events are not excluded. Free Day at LACMA? Nah. Farmers Markets? #TeamMonsanto. Recently however, Make Music Pasadena, a free music festival located along Colorado Blvd in Old Town ‘Dena, really challenged the innate conviction bestowed upon us subculture aficionados that everything sucks.

With a lineup featuring headliners such as Surfer Blood and Tennis, whom the interwebs so affectionately referred to as ‘indie gems’, and fifty other bands I hadn’t ever heard of but was still stoked on seeing, I could tell I was already struggling to get into the familiar mindset of a mid-twenties, body-modification-wielding Ebenezer Scrooge.

It wasn’t until I was in the midst of it all that I knew that this write-up would be a difficult one. The stage setups and production value were way above par. The band lineup was crackerjack given that the event organizers had to cater to the full spectrum of music listener. The weather was on point. So what was there left to hate on? I started getting light-headed with the existential crisis that this question had manifested. If you can’t unabashedly bash something, what is there left to write about?

Beneath every septum piercing, there was a jovial smile
(and a cigarette).

It turns out that Pasadena’s Make Music fest wasn’t about sunburns and high fashion, like Coachella. It wasn’t about drugs and sick drops, like EDC. Hell, it wasn’t even about “the music” like the countless other festivals that allow you to passably justify spending four hundred dollars just for the privilege of attending. This event was all about community.

Beneath every septum piercing, there was a jovial smile (and a cigarette). Accompanying every hip dad with cuffed chinos and low-top white sneaks was an even hipper child sporting the latest Public School x Baby Gap collab.

So I busted out the Nikon and started snapping pictures, stopping in local cafés and boutiques along the way to get a sense of how much this community event meant to the locals, business owners, and hordes of others who commuted in just to take part in some good, clean fun.

Notable Performances


This San Francisco based indie rock band made me want to let my hair down, take shots of something stolen from mom & dad’s liquor cabinet, and dance around like an idiot. Even though they were actually part of KCRW’s “Summer Nights” music series and not the Make Music lineup, they were still a highlight for everyone who was lucky enough to catch them.


This band taught me a valuable lesson: don’t judge a book by its most popular track on Spotify. Though I had heard good things, I went to see these guys with pretty low expectations. Lo and behold, their performance was far and away one of the best of the event and a crowd favorite. Try listening to ‘Origins’ live and not bobbing your head – it’s impossible.

Notable Eatery

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

Arepas + churros – what’s there not to like? Even though neither is referenced in the name of the shop, it seems like these two flagship menu items are what keep the doors open. Their Venezuelan style. gluten-free Arepas are stuffed with items such as shredded beef, sweet plantains, black beans, imported cheeses and more. The churros are cooked to order and served with a chocolate dipping sauce that is so damn tasty it leaves me no choice but to describe it as being “to die for.” If you’re ever in the hood around lunch time, you’d be foolish not to go check out Amara for either one or both of these things.

Related Content

Fund Drive