The sun was shining in the Golden State at the Verizon Wireless Ampitheater in Irvine, California for Bamboozle Left. A long line of teenagers twisted out of the venue entrance and around the parking lot wrapping in front of the empty water park next door. Once inside, these kids swarmed the grass and cement in jeans, shirts, skirts, heels, vans, beaters, fishnets, tutus, headbands, and tattoos. My plan for the day involved running all over the grounds from stage to stage in the hopes to see everyone I came for.
After checking out the layout, I wandered over to the Imagination stage to see The Cab play their set. The crowd was pretty stagnant except some peppered throughout the crowd mouthing along. The Cab boys on stage seemed to be performing a show that cast them as teenage heartthrob divas. Dancing and high tenor vocals interjected over simple guitar riffs and basic beats created a young rock-funk that was entertaining but seemed inauthentic.
Forever the Sickest Kids performed next on the adjacent main stage and this is one of the bands that motivated my attendance at the event. Always full of dance-provoking beats, fun synth melodies and catchy guitar riffs, their set was everything I hoped for. They played songs off their year-old full-length Underdog Alma Mater, like “My Worst Nightmare” and “The Way She Moves” but also made sure to reward their fans that had followed them for their short two years of existence with songs like “Becky Starz.” With two guys on guitar, one on bass, one on the keyboard, a drummer, a lead singer and three mics between them, this sextet is a band made up of hard work, chance, and a good time.
Having read their name floating around Myspace, I decided to check out Artist vs. Poet on one of the smaller stages. This techno-infused pop rock led by a typical pop vocalist seemed to catch the attention of a small crowd. Many of the teen girls that gathered knew the songs by heart and sang loud to the boys’ sideways bangs and head-banging. Songs varied along a spectrum of how much pre-recorded synth they included but all of them were relatively catchy, especially “Run Away,” a crowd favorite.
Walking down the pathway I was scoping out the vendors as a band’s song caught my ear. It seemed like the real boy in a room full of dummies. It was a band called Say It Twice. Slow rock with ambient guitar melodies and strong, sweet, lonely vocals. Lead vocals John sang “I feel like you let down your heart” and this sincere sentiment echoed throughout their set. They sang about love and pushing for better—life’s strives—in an honest and open way. So open that after their set, they came to the edge of the stage to shake hands with the crowd—a pleasant change of pace.
To fill up some time we caught Valencia’s set on one of the smaller stages. Essentially pop-rock teenage summer anthems, they played mostly songs off their newest album We All Need A Reason To Believe. The songs were perfect for the festival at sunset and would also make a perfect soundtrack to a coast drive with the music cranked loud.
I was intrigued to see what kind of set Asher Roth would bring to the festival, but in the first five minutes he mentioned, “so I smoke pot” and then proceeded to enlighten the crowd about how pretty the hills were behind us and how they looked like teletubbies would descend from them any minute. His babbling sent me walking off in the other direction.
The catchy tech-rap-rock pumping from the stage with Hollywood Undead had all the men in the crowd grabbing a beer and singing along. I wasn’t sure whether to head bang or lean back, but the men on stage in the masks were commanding the crowd’s attention with their beats and obscene but catchy lyrics. They took off their masks as their set progressed, but maintained their hard personae, demanding attention and the spotlight. It reminded me of something I would hear blasting in my college town on a Friday night.
At the stage next door All Time Low emerged onto the stage to a mass of screaming teenage girls that filled the blacktop. Their vulgar jokes were reminiscent of the old Blink 182 days, but more vulgar, if that’s possible. The first words out of lead singer Alex’s mouth were, “We’re All Time Low and we’re gonna f*** your mouth.” They even managed to provoke one of the only guys in the crowd to whip it out when Alex later shouted, “Get out your dick and spin it like a helicopter. Shirts and towels are overrated.” They played only songs off their most recent release and popular hit So Wrong, It’s Right with the exception of their newest single “Weightless.” Songs like “Six Feet Under the Stars,” “Poppin’ Champagne” and “Dear Maria” had pretty much everyone singing and dancing along to their infectious pop rock.
Cobra Starship was on next on the Imagination Stage and Gabe Saporta, former member of Midtown, put on an amazing show as usual, even though his voice sounded a bit hoarse. But I mean, how could a band with a keytar not win your heart? Apparently Jeffree Star and Ben from Sing It Loud agree because they joined the set for some singing cameos. A set filled with songs about movin’ and groovin’ and paparazzi, Gabe inspired some hip shaking. Declaring that he started Cobra Starship because he wanted to do whatever the f*** he wanted, he sure has put his freedom to good use.
The last band and the headliner of the night Fall Out Boy magnetically drew everyone in the crowd to become smashed up against their neighbor in the pit. Pete Wentz was perturbed that during The Get Up Kid’s set immediately before, people were rude enough to shout for Fall Out Boy. He rightly gave credit to bands like The Get Up Kids for the existence of Fall Out Boy and had the crowd start a “Get Up Kids” chant. The band opened with some newer songs off their December 2008 album Folie A Deux with pounding bass and a jazz-soul undertone and then jammed on some older fan favorites, ending with one of their first and probably best single “Saturday” from Take This To Your Grave to which the whole crowd went crazy and formed a circle pit. These guys are some hard-working musicians that give a lot to their fans. It was a sweaty lovely mess of people loving music that loves them back.