Think about going to the nicest house party you’ve ever been to: the host made your favorite dish, poured your favorite drink, and has your favorite band playing on the speaker. Arroyo Seco mimics this experience, but instead of just for you, it’s for everyone.

In its second year, Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco Weekend has thought of everything.

Drastically Improved Layout

Riding off the high of successfully debuting, the Arroyo planners did a fantastic job of adding even more diversity into all aspects of the festival: the lineup, food choices, drink choices, vendors, and sponsors, etc.  This inclusiveness expands to audience demographics, inviting people of all ages, colors, and styles to feel like they can have the experience they want.

After ironing out their infancy pains, the overall layout improved drastically this year, refining the flow and easy-breezy feel of the festival. The lawn chair groups and standing audience was segregated into specific regions spaced out by open walkways, allowing the crowds migrate from stage to stage with ease.

The two main stages were located on opposite sides of the Arroyo, opening up the space. Festival organizers did a great job of adding more food, booze, water, and toilet options. The walk may have been further, but the lines were shorter, making it worth the extra trek. And if they planned the weather, they nailed that one too, with the temperature holding in the mid 70’s most of both days.

The Food and Drink Options Were Local and Tasty

Let’s not forget the food. With vegan tacos from Cena Vegan or “Asian-inspired Hot Dogs,” Arroyo offered a foodie paradise by showcasing respected L.A. eateries. With lower than average festival prices, bigger portions and more cuisine styles – again, there was something for everyone. This year Arroyo Seco debuted new and more craft cocktails, a hearty selection of Southern California craft beer and even biodynamic wines (whatever that means).

Arroyo Seco’s Lineup Offered Something For Everyone

Then of course, there’s the music. It’s hard to top last year – having Tom Petty play one of his last living performances, but this year brought similar legends, young and old, on the top of the bill: Neil Young, Robert Plant, The Pretenders, The Specials, Jack White, and Alanis Morrissette. They also did a great job of curated a cohesive lineup, spanning genres of rock, folk, and jazz, adding modern hitmakers with classic sounds.

Jack White stole the show on Saturday, playing newer solo hits mixed with the most popular tracks from the White Stripes and the Raconteurs. The sun was setting behind the Oaks stage as his blue and black visuals and heavy guitar took us into the evening.

Neil Young, with a few of Willie Nelson’s sons who play as the Promise of the Real, carried Saturday night out. Instead of following a set list of hits, they went off script, jamming based on feeling. “We didn’t make a set list because, well, it’s a list.” Classic Neil.

Sunday started hotter and kept up the heat all day, with groove master Fantastic Negrito rocking the willow stage with crowd participation and wild dance moves. 90’s legends the Violent Femmes, Alanis Morisette and Third Eye Blind played everyone’s favorite radio hits. The real star of the day was, unsurprisingly, Robert Plant and his backing band called the Sensational Space Shifters. His sunset set wowed all ages, surprising us with a few Led Zeppelin mega hits and delighting us with technical guitar heavy solo tracks. It was pleasant beyond expectation. We’re already dreaming of they will plan next year.

Review By: Amanda Martinek
Photos by: Ned Molder