Day 2 began with some tailgating in the parking lot, giving us a little time to recharge our batteries and mentally prepare for what would be another long and insanely awesome day. After Day 1, we had learned a few important things:
- Sunblock was an absolutely phenomenal idea.
- Hydration was a necessity. Spending a lot of money on it was not. These two concepts strongly opposed each other.
- Adding water to the cooler avoids #2. Thank God we put that 24 pack of water in there, because bringing 12 bottles of water into Epicenter probably saved us each about $10-20.
- Stand close to the people with the giant spray bottles if you want to survive.
- When they pull out the giant water hose to spray the crowd with, make sure you find yourself directly under it or you will remain miserable.
- Balance the need to sit down and rest in the shade with the desire to get to the stage early before each act in order to get as close as possible.
- Don’t be afraid to get physical with people. You are at a concert. Nobody in the crowd cares if you are uncomfortable or unhappy with your view of the stage. If it comes down to a you vs. them situation, do not be afraid to piss someone off that you will never see again. Unless they are huge and/or drunk.
- Avoid obese, loud, annoying girls. Don’t think I’m a jerk when you read that. If you’ve ever been to a concert and have experienced someone screaming lyrics to every song at excruciatingly loud octaves, chances are, you understand what I mean. It’s not my fault that half the time when you turn around to throw a disgruntled look you discover the girl just happens to be mammoth. This rule especially applies for the times when you are listening to a band that you don’t particularly care for (or hate, in the case of Bush).
- Take good pictures. Looking through all the pictures I took this weekend, it was definitely worth it.
- Finally, don’t be afraid to let loose a little bit. You are at a concert (and in this case, one of the best ones ever). You don’t want to remember your experience as standing around and singing along lightly like a dullard. Instead, pump your fist, throw up the universal hand signal for rock, jump around, shove some people and sing to your heart’s content. Unless you fit the description of #8.
And now on to the music! Day 2 kicked off with The Academy Is… but we were too busy tailgating and mentally preparing for the day in the parking lot to get there in time. I’ve seen them before however, and they sounded good then so I expect they were good again. Even if lead singer William Beckett’s extreme effeminate stage presence is slightly unsettling.
We made it just in time to see an awesome band that more people should know about (and that I will blog about soon) called A Day To Remember. A pop-punk band from Florida with a talent for making awesome fan T-shirts, these guys won the crowd over quickly, despite the fact that less than half had ever heard of the group before. Getting doused with the fire hose while they played “Have Faith In Me” was a truly beautiful moment in my concert memory.
Next up was Against Me. I had only heard a few of their songs before, but I think that will change after their performance. I was very impressed with their ability to win the crowd over solely through the music. They hardly interacted with the crowd, but the music was spoke for itself and that crowd liked what it heard. Even though they didn’t play “Stop,” it was still a very solid performance.
Bad Religion followed Against Me, a band that has been playing for 30 years. You may recognize them by their famous Guitar Hero song “Infected.” That was basically all I knew them by, and even after a decent performance, that’s pretty much still all I know them by. They certainly looked like they had been in punk rock for 30 years, especially when lead singer Greg Graffin came out in a bright red polo. I enjoyed myself for about half of their set, but I was unfamiliar with them and they didn’t really win me over. It was probably the worst act of Day 2, but it was still entertaining.
This is where Day 2 steadily began to peak. Or at least, it was supposed to. We had gotten all the unknown and less popular bands out of the way, and 30 Seconds To Mars was about to kick off a 3-band special that would finish Epicenter off on an epic note. Let’s just say that’s not exactly what happened. That’s not to say that 30 Seconds To Mars isn’t good live or that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy myself, but lead singer Jared Leto simultaneously made it entertaining and disappointed me. I’m all for bands interacting with the crowd and getting them involved, but when that interaction is about 70% of your set, and you’re doing this in a white leather jacket with red gloves, I have to question whether or not you are a cool person after all. Leto has a phenomenal voice and great stage presence, but I didn’t spend $182.50 to hear myself and the drunken/high crowd around me belt out the words to half the songs. “The Kill” is my favorite song by 30 Seconds To Mars, so you can imagine my disappoint when the first half of the song was acoustic and the second half was sung almost entirely by the crowd. The final song, “Kings And Queens” was cool because he got about 100 people on stage to sing the background chorus, but I wanted more. Don’t point the mic at me, Jared Leto. I came to hear you sing it.
Rise Against did not disappoint, however. In fact, they absolutely shredded my expectations. Every song that I knew was awesome to behold, and even when I didn’t know the song, it didn’t matter one bit because I was too busy jumping around with the rest of the raucous crowd to notice. Tim McIlrath, aside from having an awesome name, sounded almost identical to his voice on Rise Against’s albums, and even though there wasn’t substantial crowd interaction, once again, everybody was too busy rocking out to complain. A stellar performance was capped off by a legendary extended version of “Ready To Fall.” I seriously got tired just watching them finish that song off with a solid 1-2 minutes of sheer rock power.
And finally, Blink-182 finished Epicenter 2010 off. Now I liked Blink-182 a lot before this weekend, but I wasn’t an enormous Blink fanatic like about 75% of the crowd. After watching them live, I question my sanity as to why I never was. I expected them to be funny and entertaining, but I didn’t expect them to be absolutely hilarious and extremely talented. You can’t really tell listening to the album, but seeing them live really opened my eyes to how much these guys can rock. Travis Barker beating those drums to pieces is an incredible sight to behold, Mark Hoppus really makes playing the bass look fun and Tom DeLonge demonstrated his talent for multitasking by providing some great vocals while absolutely shredding on the guitar. My favorite moment (aside from the encore which I will come to later) was an extended version of “I Miss You.” DeLonge really got into it here and there was a 2-minute segment of heavier guitar, bass and drumming that blew me away, making the song even more dramatic and emotional. I love going to see bands that have a lot of hits, but seeing Blink live was ridiculous because they just threw out hit after hit to the point that it was hard to keep track of what songs we still wanted/needed to hear. Blink’s encore started with a Travis Barker drum solo that you just have to watch to believe. Check it out here. They ended up finishing with “Dammit,” which was a solid choice in my opinion, and the mixture of the crowd going bonkers and the confetti at the very end made for a fantastic concert moment.
Epicenter 2010 was so much more than a concert. It was a giant party, a marathon, a tanning experience, a dancing festival, a carnival, and a concert all rolled into one. If the bands are anywhere near as good as this year’s lineup, I will be in attendance for Epicenter 2011. Eminem’s return to the stage was incredible, Blink-182 blew my mind, Rise Against and Papa Roach rocked, and everone else did their part (except Bush). I’d like to thank my good friends Anthony, Nick and Jordan for contributing to an already awesome experience. Also I’d like to thank God for getting us back safely and for the free concert tickets I snatched out of the air which I will now turn into a $60-80 profit. Despite the fact that we had to drive back to Phoenix for class and got back at 5 in the morning and despite the fact that we then had an essay to write that pushed our bedtime back to 7 A.M., we had the time of our lives this weekend. So after all that, how does your weekend compare?