Devore, CA — It was about 100 in the afternoon when the gates to the hell, which was the Blockbuster Pavilion, opened and let us in to fry in the 95 degree blaze of the San Fernando desert. Feeling as though we were chocolate in a frying pan, we persevered. After all, it was the MUSIC we cared about, more than the UV rays scorching our epidermis, more than the dehydration of our wilting innards. The MUSIC being Scapegoat Wax, Mix Master Mike & Mike D from the Beastie Boys, Cold, Adema and Puddle Of Mudd on the first stage, and the Long Beach Dub Allstars, Weezer, Pennywise, Social Distortion, Incubus and The Offspring taking over the main stage.
The most exhausting and evil part of the day was the hour walk from the parking lot to the venue. And the venue itself must have made an absolute killing selling $3 cups of water to the 60,000 melting fans. Major strikes against this venue – NO SHELTER, SHADE, OR MIST SPRAYERS anywhere on the property! How does a venue in the middle of the desert, with most concerts held in the heat of the summer day, get away with NOT having structures erected to aid in the relief of the sun? You got me on that one. The name should be changed to BlockBLISTER. My only props to this venue the lovely surrounding mountain view. However, a sucker for nature or not, I would have rather taken this show in the middle of the LA ghetto, if it were 75 degrees.
One item of interest to note the event was sponsored in part by Levi’s. The company had constructed a full-fledged trapeze set up (complete with an instructor) for people to enjoy. Although, I never made my way over to investigate how much it cost to swing like a monkey, there was always someone on it. After financing a large cup of water so that we could survive the walk to the first stage, my friend and I made our way to a grassy knoll to literally bake in conjunction with witnessing Cold’s opening song, their latest single, “End Of The World”. I have never been a fan of Fred Durst or his bald-headed front men cronies, but I am now confident to admit, Cold is a band to be seen.
Although the sound on the first stage didn’t do any of the bands justice, we were still able to detect the talent and grace in Scooter Ward‘s performance. (Side note: What kind of name is Scooter? If I were heading a band called ‘Cold’, I’d change my name to something more clever…perhaps Luke Warm, heh, heh.) Regardless, his vocals resonated throughout the valley, until they were overpowered by the Long Beach Dub Allstars on the main stage. Which brings up another complaint – if you were at the first stage, you always had trouble discerning the sound from the band on the main stage. Especially during Cold’s ballad “Bleed”, where Scooter quietly exposed his entire soul to the desert. It was almost an insult that you could barely hear it. Cold’s fans screamed when they ended their set with the powerful single “Just Got Wicked”. They received a well-deserved roaring applause from the tired and weary fans before they sluggishly crawled their way up the hill towards the main stage.
Having heard all the hype on Adema, I was anxious to check out their style. I only caught two songs, and was distracted by sounds of LBDA still on the main stage, so it’s hard to make a judgment on their performance. I’d have to say the sound system was less than state-of-the-art for the first stage, but they seemed to have enough ammunition to put on a good show. After those two songs, nothing was more crucial than another cup of water and a second sunscreen application.
Dying to see Puddle Of Mudd, we were anxious to secure shading under a bush we found on the side of a hill, in order to comfortably witness these up-and-coming boys from Kansas City. Another Fred Durst band, but what a surprise – this singer has a full head of hair! Having just seen Puddle open for Godsmack a few weeks ago, I completely built them up to my friend, who has been enjoying their CD. Biggest downer of the day – Puddle Of Mudd. They were supposed to headline the first stage at 4:30, and then Weezer would go on the main at 4:55. We were delighted that we might have enough time to catch both bands. A music fan is in a real tight spot when they must decide between Puddle Of Mudd and Weezer. But we were determined to give the underdogs our dedicated support. The minutes ticked and ticked on as the devil (which was disguised as the sun) still singed our bodies. (Would it ever go down?!) It soon became 5:00 and Puddle still had not gone on. I used my cleverly brought binoculars to detect the problem, they appeared to be lounging backstage without a care in the world, meanwhile fans had become seriously annoyed by the waiting and moved to the main stage.
By 5:05,Weezer had gone on and Puddle Of Mudd still had not. Their crowd had diminished to a mere 100 out of the previous 600 and at this point I was positive that something must have gone wrong. Weezer, now on their second song “Island In The Sun”, sounding awesome from under the bush that was our shelter, made our ears jealous! We did everything we could to not rush to the main stage to our seats. We could barely hold out for Puddle’s opening song, which finally began around 5:10. A bit upset about the timing issues, we didn’t even wait for Puddle’s second song and caught Weezer just as they were starting “Undone The Sweater Song”. We knew we would be able to see Puddle again in the near future, in a much better environment. All hail the mighty Weezer!!! The main stage crowd was in love. I haven’t seen Weezer in 5 years and they couldn’t have been more entertaining and exciting. They sounded phenomenal and the band worked perfectly together. Those boys are tight! Rivers Cuomo is absolutely charming with a voice that made you melt much like the sun did, which was (you guessed it) still burning ferociously. They played “Crab”, “Hash Pipe”, and plenty of others from their newest self-titled record, as well as all their hits from the older self-titled LP including “Buddy Holly”, and “Say It Ain’t So”. They truly delivered an amazing set, and no band is more fun to sing along to than Weezer.
By the time they were finished, it was decided that this concert was now worth the effort of withstanding the heat and other irritations of the day, thanks to Weezer. We had no interest in seeing Pennywise on the main stage, but heard them clearly from the outside of the pavilion. And fortunately for us, we made the right decision in not wasting our time – their sound was as awful and sloppy as the day. We sought out another small bush on the side of a hill which produced enough shade for us to hide under and *smoke the fat joint* that kept us sane for the next hour as we made fun. From what we heard, the crowd didn’t seem too enthused by their performance either, although loud cheers abounded as they played their single “Fuck Authority”.
One good thing about Pennywise, it was during their final songs that the sun made its way behind the mountains, taking its good old time of course, but finally disappearing around 715. Perhaps they scared it away. Social Distortion has a HUGE following, although they never bothered me, I admit that I do not own one Social D CD. Still, I was interested enough to sit through their set. Their sound was good, and what a great guitar player they have, but in my opinion, Mike Ness talks too much. He had to speak an introduction to every song, who it’s dedicated to (including one song to Joey Ramone), what it’s called, when it was written, etc. Perhaps it was Incubus anxiety, but we really just prayed they would play their music and leave. They went through the motions on most of their hits, but the crowd was really in a frenzy when they closed with their popular “Ball And Chain”.
A quick bite and then to our seats for the coveted Incubus! One of our favorite bands of all time, the gorgeous boys opened with the title track from their current record MAKE YOURSELF. Brandon Boyd, jumped around the stage with the boundless energy that partly defines Incubus, and the band as a whole couldn’t have sounded any better. For a brief instant, Brandon reminded me of Jon Bon Jovi in his hey day as he soon tore off his shirt to reveal his glistening chest and thousands of females screamed in ecstasy. (I even had trouble sharing my binoculars with my dear friend sitting next to me – ohhhh what a sight for sunburnt eyes.) As they did their popular KROQ radio hits “Stellar” and “Drive” it seemed as though Brandon’s voice was echoing throughout the universe and the entire world was singing along. It was a chilling experience. In the middle of their amazing performance of “Vitamin” off their record S.C.I.E.N.C.E., the band showed off their skills with minutes of amazing instrumentation and solos. Brandon, having strapped on his famous dijembe, created sounds with his bare hands that other drummers only dream of. After this effort, the music flowed into quite a familiar tune, which wasn’t immediately placed until Brandon sang the words, “I made it through the wilderness, somehow I made it through…didn’t know how lost I was, until I found you…” it was Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”!! It was true, they were covering Madonna!! We couldn’t tell if it was a joke or serious, from the look on Brandon’s face we thought it was a joke, but yet he was singing with such conviction. It actually sounded … GOOD!
But after the first chorus, they returned to finish “Vitamin”. The crowd was both shocked and amused. After much applause it was time for something different so bassist Dirk Lance and drummer Jose Pasillas broke things down in to a very jazzy situation. Brandon then burst out an impressive cabaret-style vocal scat, although you knew he wasn’t saying anything really, just making noise – what delicious noise it was. He truly displayed his immense vocal range and talent. It was breathtaking. They surprised hungry ears by playing two new songs, “Nice To Know You” which was exactly what Incubus fans have been clamoring for! In true Incubus fashion it begins quite heavy and funky and then slows down with Brandon’s flawless voice taking us to another world. And then “Wish You Were Here” which we’ve all been given a taste of on the KROQ radio waves recently. Both songs just a glimpse of their long-awaited new album MORNING VIEW (in stores on October 23). Of course, the boys couldn’t leave us without playing their ultimate crowd pleaser “Pardon Me”.
After the musical ecstasy that Incubus dished out, we decided that beating traffic was more important than sticking it out to see The Offspring. My friend and I limped exhaustingly and achingly a mile back to our car, filthy and tired, complaining about the grueling day. (Glad those tickets were free, thank you Interscope!) If I could have put this show together, I would have eliminated most of the bands. If it had to be this venue, but the rest were entirely up to me, I would have had Cold open, followed by Weezer, headlined by Incubus…
…and the show would have started when the sun went down!
– *Ganja Girl*