Concert Review: Jack White, Neil Young, Pretenders Lead a Lively, ’80s-Leaning Arroyo Seco Festival

If Desert Trip, the one-off festival of golden gods Goldenvoice produced in 2016, was “Oldchella,” what handy appellation should we give its more modest but more sustainable successor of these last two summers, Arroyo Seco Weekend? Olderbutnotthatoldchella? At the second annual gathering, held this weekend at Brookside at the Rose Bowl, you could get bogged down in the analytics of who exactly this none-too-tightly-focused fest is geared toward. (The median attendee age seemed to be mid- or late 30s, though the span was about as wide as for the performers, who ranged from early 20s to late 70s.) Or you could forego demographic studies and just give in to the good vibes generated by all that grass… golf-course grass. Why ask why Generations Y, X and Boomer get on so well, when they have Jack White, endless artisanal cocktails, vegan rolls, grassy knolls and “You Oughta Know” nostalgia to bridge the gaps?

Year one of Arroyo Seco had been a resounding success, except for two major problems, both solved this second time around. One had been the positioning of the 2017 main stage, which was in an undeniably pretty spot next to the residential hillside, but was also in a small enough area that a bottleneck resulted long before headliners Tom Petty (sigh) and Mumford & Sons took the stage. That was solved this year by flipping the entire east/west map and putting the two bigger stages in the larger (if less scenic) area directly north of the Rose Bowl. Needless to say, the crowd expanded to fill the extra space. An even more important improvement: the 20-degree dip in temperatures from last year’s triple-digit scorcher, Goldenvoice apparently having negotiated more favorable terms with the gods of June gloom. “Blister in the Sun,” this year, was merely a Violent Femmes song, not a door prize.