In conjunction with the Red Bull Sound Select’s “30 Days in L.A.,” music label Stones Throw Records celebrated its 20th anniversary at Sycamore Grove Park in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles by bringing their best artists to the stage for a public concert, free of charge. The concert featured Grammy and Academy Award-winning rapper Common as the headliner and label artists such as Peanut Butter Wolf, Dam-Funk, J-Rocc, MNDSGN, Gabriel Garzón Montano, Homeboy Sandman, Iman Omari and Chrome Canyon.
Stones Throw has released many acclaimed underground hip-hop records, such as Madvilliany by artists MF Doom and Madlib, Yessir Whatever by rapper Quasimoto, as well as the collections of famed hip-hop producer J Dilla.
The label was also featured in the documentary Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, which illustrates the label’s historic and trailblazing impact on hip-hop. Stones Throw is also the former label of pop and R&B singer Aloe Blacc, a USC alum.
The venue at Sycamore Grove Park treated attendees to an amphitheater-style stage with the crowd sprawled out on the lawn, listening on the mesa-styled bench seating or leaning up against the railing. Food trucks and vendors such as Coolhaus, Max City BBQ, Seoul Sausage, Humble Crust, Made In Brooklyn Pizza and Southern Fried Vegan supplied good eats for festival attendees.
One of Stones Throw’s bands, Chrome Canyons, performed a futuristic electro-rock set with the frontman, Morgan Z, on vocals, keys and theremin. The band played songs from their 2012 release, Elemental Themes, and struck well with the crowd over their tones that brings the Stranger Things and Tron soundtracks fused with the work of Tame Impala to mind.
The next performer, Gabriel Garzón Montano, played a solo set with an elaborate floral arrangement draped over his piano. His most recent single, “Sour Mango” was released by Stones Throw on Nov. 2 in anticipation of his debut album with the label, Jardín, available on Jan. 27. Notably, the number of people in the crowd increased after hearing the rhythms and chorus from this new release.
Artist Garzón-Montano who performs all the instruments live and on his studio releases, then delved into new works and his best pieces from his previous album, Bishouné: Alma del Huila. Songs such as “Me Alone” invoked thoughts of Prince, and the beat of “Keep on Running” exhibited both soul and hip hop influences. The crowd was impressed with this recent signee.
Mndsgn (pronounced “mind design”), a hip-hop artist and producer whose most recent album, Body Wash was released this September by Stones Throw, performed next. The performer brought out a live band complete with a horns section, and took a creatively pleasing route by meshing his synth-heavy sounds with the rest of his outfit. Mndsgn takes some influences from prog-funk, and had the audience’s heads nodding with his songs from his last release and Yawn Zen, his 2014 release that had hits such as “Camelblues,” which has over 1 million views on Youtube.
Common, the headliner, finished the night with a riveting set where he played hits such as “The Light,” “Love of My Life” and “The Food,” and freestyled over beats as sundown hit Highland Park over the fan’s cheers.
Mild High Club, the solo act of Alex Brettin, performed coming off the release of Skiptracing. Brettin, known for performing along with Mac DeMarco, received acclaim for his sophomore project, a vintage infused project with low-fi and filtered tracks that fall into the slacker-rock genre. The performance, despite a seemingly simple rock outfit, was technically impressive as the guitars and their solos showed talent in a hazy rock groove. Skiptracing, the album and its songs, have an effortless vibe to them, but the audience enjoyed the relaxed and spacy energy the band created on the Saturday afternoon.