L.A. Weekly Detour Festival: Live Entertainment in the Heart of Downtown

CARLOS VILLAREAL
El Vaquero Staff Writer

L.A. Weekly hosted their first annual Detour Music Festival on Oct. 7, bringing music, art and dancing apes to the heart of Downtown L.A.

Soon after exiting the Hill St./ Chinatown exit off the 110 freeway, drivers found bright, florescent orange signs proclaiming “detour,” pointing in different directions, rerouting drivers around Main Street, past First and Second streets. As some drivers grew angry over the delays, others scratched their heads, wondering if it was another road project, accident or terrorist attack. Chain link fences surrounded a square mile of Main St. insulating the heart of downtown L.A. from the rest of the city.
Inside the strange death cube, crowds gathered in eager anticipation.

The Detour Fest transformed the dismal, dreary, overlooked heart of L.A. into an orgy of music and art, breathing life back into downtown’s glory or yesteryears, with proceeds of the festival going to charity.


A handpicked line-up of acts, such as The Like, Blackalicious and Blonde Redhead, and headliners, such as Basement Jaxx, Beck and Queens of the Stone Age, shared the stage with a backdrop of skyscrapers.

Bright, neon art installations lined the steps of City Hall while vendor and promotion tents lined Main Street as far as the eye could see. Everything from vegan hotdogs to designer shirts were hocked to the masses. Two massive stages lay at the the end of First Street, with a third on the corner of Main and Second Streets. Refreshments served at a church, converted into a beer garden, slaked the thirst of concert-goers on Second Street.


As the crowds filled the streets of downtown, Blonde Redhead’s dark, melodic sounds echoed across City Hall. Later that night, Beck took the stage, accompanied by his back-up band of puppets.

During Basement Jaxx’s performance, a horde of dancing apes was released into the crowd, getting their boogie on. As the night came to a close, Queens of the Stone Age ripped through an hour-long set as the tired and dreary sat on the sidewalk and stared at the skyline, lit up like a Christmas tree.

All in all, the fest accomplished its main objective; to bring art and music back to the dry, severed soul of a once lively Mecca, allowing the crowds to experience what downtown L.A. once was.