Sometimes the best things in life truly are free. Case in point: the 2017 edition of Echo Park Rising brought together bands and music lovers of all ages for four free days and nights of great tunes, times and vibes. Bigger than ever, this year’s festival boasted rising stars such as Alyeska (pictured above) and Cat Scan, Coachella veterans The Paranoyds and Surf Curse and local stalwarts like The Henry Clay People, The Buttertones and Sadgirl.

The Buttertones crowd by Frank Mojica

With every venue, cafe, parking lot and clothing store in the Echo Park neighborhood hosting live music, the venue-hopping festival felt like a west coast SXSW more than ever this year. Aside from a few exceptions—such as a massive queue for Meatbodies on Friday night—getting into shows proved painless and drama-free. Forget those elitist, impossibly-exclusive badge-only showcases, because Echo Park Rising keeps it real with a welcoming, supportive atmosphere and enthusiastic crowds comprised of fans and artists alike.

The Paranoyds by Frank Mojica

As an increasingly crucial event in the Los Angeles music scene, Echo Park Rising is all about community and discovery. Your best-laid plans are guaranteed to go awry, but for the better. For example, you may walk down Sunset Blvd. to check out what’s happening at Little Joy, but end up sidetracked on the way because what’s happening at The Lost Lot just looks and sounds irresistibly fun. Need a musical palate cleansing from the punk and psych rock at the Echo and Echoplex? No need to wander far: just check out the sweet, alt-country sounds on the patio between sets.

The Henry Clay People by Lee Bedrouni

Echo Park Rising is the kind of festival where someone you run into suggests a new band or invites you to watch them play, and the performance ends up blowing your mind. No matter your chosen adventure, with hundreds of artists that reflect our city’s rich musical diversity, you’re guaranteed to discover a new favorite. – Frank Mojica