For those of you who follow music but have been living under a rock for the past 2-6 weeks, a concert took place this past weekend in Fontana, California that was of epic proportions. It’s called Epicenter, and it blew my mind. I have never been to a better concert, and this is coming from a guy who has seen his favorite band (Switchfoot), and other legendary performers like Green Day, Linkin Park, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, Mayday Parade, All Time Low, A Day To Remember, Silverstein, Hollywood Undead, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Franz Ferdinand, Brad Paisley and many, many more. Epicenter was not only killer because of its jaw-dropping lineup (more on this later), but because of the massive stage, the enormous crowds, the entertaining booths, the merchandise shops, and the overall party atmosphere that was nothing short of contagious.
That’s not to say that attending this concert was all hunky dory. Standing in a huge and smelly crowd for 7+ hours isn’t always fun, especially when the smell of body odor is accompanied by the even less appealing smells of strong marijuana, booze and possibly barf. If you are the type of person who burns easily, can’t stand strong or unpleasant smells, can’t hold your alcohol, or needs plenty of personal space, this type of event may not be for you.
But for the 99% of you out there who like having fun, don’t pass up on this event next year if the lineup is even half as good. Day 1 boasted the likes of Deuce (formerly of Hollwood Undead), Crash Kings, Big Boi, Papa Roach, Bush, Eminem and KISS. And that day was the weaker lineup.
Getting used to the heat was a little bit tough for me and my three ASU companions: Anthony (my roommate), Nick and Jordan. But once the bands started playing, the heat wasn’t as much of an issue, because hardly anyone disappointed. Plus, one booth in the extensive grounds sold pretty big spray bottles with plentiful containers of water. People owning one of these soon became the most popular people in the crowd and were responsible for keeping the 20 closest people cool. And now onto the music itself.
We didn’t make it inside soon enough to see Deuce’s first solo performance, but I heard it was just him up on stage with a guitar, so I can only be so optimistic about his career based on this radical change from the style of Hollywood Undead.
However, Crash Kings were extremely good, and I was pleasantly surprised because I had only heard their name before, but had no idea what they were about or how they sounded. I’m pleased to report I am a Crash Kings convert after that performance. Lead singer/keyboardist Tony Beliveau sounded identical to the record and was impressive to watch on stage. Hardly anyone in the crowd knew them, but by the end of the set, everyone was having a good time. The really cool thing about this performance was Beliveau’s other keyboard. He had his piano, but this other keyboard made guitar sounds when he played it, complete with whammy bar. After a little research, I discovered that this guitar/keyboard hybrid is called a Clavinet. Fun fact of the day.
Next came Big Boi, one half of the dastardly duo in Outkast. A guest appearance from Andre 3000 would have been awesome, but Big Boi was still entertaining enough, playing parts from Outkast songs like “The Way You Move,” “Ghetto Musick” and the crowd’s favorite, “Ms. Jackson.” Nothing ground-breaking, but still entertaining enough.
And then came Papa Roach. Papa Roach rocks enough as it is, but seeing them live was just amazing. Their set kept the crowd energized, and Epicenter saw its first series of mosh pits open up. They played all the essentials like “Scars,” “Forever” and “Lifeline,” and closed with (in my opinion) the best song they could have chosen: “Last Resort.” I had been waiting for them to play that song from the very beginning, and hearing them close with it was incredible. Fists were pumping, middle fingers were flying, and drunken moshers were getting wrecked. Even though the heat was peaking at this point during the day, Papa Roach’s performance left people energized for the rest of the night.
That is, until Bush came on. Now I didn’t know very much about Bush, so naturally they would have to go to extra lengths to impress people who weren’t familiar with them, but they definitely have added themselves to the list of bands that I hate after that performance. Maybe it was the heat that was getting to me, maybe it was because I wanted to see Eminem so badly, or maybe it was because it took so long for them to set up and start playing. Maybe it was a combination of those things. But I have a feeling that everyone in the crowd except the Bush fans felt the same way, because they had little to no energy until the very end, every single one of their songs was an 8-minute experience, and lead singer Gavin Rossdale was just downright unlikable. Even if he didn’t seem like a haughty stoned hippie, he had plenty of unjustified arrogance to accompany his ragged appearance and lackluster stage presence. Waiting for Bush to get off the stage was a miserable experience, but once they did, we were able to witness the best performance of the weekend in my opinion.
EMINEM. People went absolutely nuts after a little ditty on the giant screens about how Eminem went to rehab, cancelled tours, was rumored to retire and rarely performed live anymore finished with the words: “Tonight, Eminem returns to the stage. WITNESS….EMINEM’S….RECOVERY.” I literally got goosebumps at this moment and then the crowd erupted when he opened with “Won’t Back Down.” He had a fantastic stage presence, rapped every verse perfectly, and had the crowd bumpin’ the entire time. D12 came out and they did a couple of songs together, but Eminem shined best when it was just him up there. He performed all the absolute necessities, and even threw in his ridiculous verses from “No Love,” “Forever,” “Til I Collapse,” and “Airplanes Part 2.” An absolutely sick encore of “Lose Yourself” capped off the best performance of Epicenter 2010.
KISS came next. At this point, we were absolutely spent, and left the giant crowd to watch from a distance, which proved to be a wise decision, because KISS should not have closed over Eminem. I had already questioned their inclusion in a concert with a bunch of bands for younger people, but KISS just seemed out of place. Gene Simmons did a good job and it was still cool to see KISS live, but the elephant in the room made itself known immediately: KISS is getting pretty old, and it might be getting close to the time to shut it down for good.
This concludes the festivities of Day 1. Look for a review of Day 2 tomorrow night.