by Vennasa Lops
The idea of sweltering in hundred degree heat for an entire afternoon at an open stadium is slightly mortifying, but once I saw the lineup for “That Damn Show”, organized by Phoenix’s The Edge, a radio station infamous for amazing shows, heat was the last thing on my mind. With bands like Deftones, Incubus, Pennywise, (Hed)pe, POD, Linkin Park, MXPX, and more– far be it for me to refuse.
The festival kicked off with a few local bands, who worked-in the sound systems before the real action ensued, when Face to Face took the stage in the one o’clock sun. These punk-veterans wizzed through mostly new songs, but doused the set with a few classics, like the everlasting “Disconnected”. And in a very brave and appreciated gesture, singer Trevor led the crowd in a “Fuck off to the mullets!” chant aimed at another local radio station’s feeble attempt to advertise by flying a banner over the stadium.
Fenix TX and MXPX drove most of the pre-pubescent girls in the crowd into Beatlesque screams of star-struck anguish. Both bands epitomize the pop-punk craze that’s currently hoarding radio waves, but to their credit, their live shows expose an alternate dimension of their musical personalities– their old-school, garage-punk roots. Newcomers Linkin Park blew the fans away with their red-haired, tattooed vocalists and hard-hitting sound. Many in the crowd felt a bond with the boys because singer Chester is an Arizona native and their single, “One Step Closer” is the subject of heavy radio play on The Edge and is one of the better new bands out there. On to Orgy and 8 Stops 7. Orgy provided the glam and leather for the show, wearing enough make up to kill small animal. Their live show was entertaining, and the crowd, of course, was in a tizzy over “Blue Monday”. 8 Stops 7, well, they held my interest for long enough for me to finish a beer (1 song) and I spent the rest of the set talking to some really cool Edge radio DJs. (Hed)pe heartily proclaimed that they are “living proof that 5 winos from southern California can make it”, and dove into their music with the intense aggression of the angry and mischievous. Loud, obnoxious, threatening to kick people’s ass– oh, and they played a few songs in there too, like the appropriately named “Bartender” and “Waiting to Die”. POD was heartily welcomed as well and the San Diego natives performed with an adroit passion through songs like, “Rock the Party” and “Southtown”.
Pennywise hit the stage with a surf-punkish aggression, beating through songs like, “Killing Time”, “Pennywise” and a cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings”. Pennywise’s live performance was pure, contagious energy that infected the crowd, driving them only slightly out of control during the standard “Bro Hymn” closing. (Unlike So Cal shows, fans in Arizona show their approval by throwing large objects at the stage- barely missing photographers in the security pit, thankyou very much) At this point, the sun was dipping in the west and the air cooling, but the crowd did not mellow with the evening. No, they were more amped than ever for Papa Roach, obviously one of The Edge and the crowd’s favorites on the bill, who proved to perform as formulaically as the music on their cd, but nonetheless, entertaining. On through an unforgettable set from Incubus. From the heavy, “Redifine”, to more popular tunes, like, “Stellar”, and “Pardon Me”, through tribal drum accentuation’s, to a cover of “Like a Virgin”, the crowd truly enjoyed Incubus. Not for any special effects, but for the substance, the powerful poetry and the deep, heaving melodies. When you are standing with thousands of sweaty, screaming people, yet something in a song hypnotizes you and all of those distractions disappear, you know that those artists are there for reasons reaching far beyond luck.
The Edge saved the best for last, closing the show with the Deftones, a band that just gets better and better with every performance. Chino and the crew adrenalized the crowd, standing on the front row barrier, roaring through new-Pony as well as old favorites like, “Root”, “Seven Words” and “My Own Summer”. Soulfly singer Max Cavaliera joined Chino in singing “Hed up” and even Papa Roach’s singer got in on the action by diving into the audience during “Feiticiera”. I’ve got to admit, I’ve never seen quite this amazing of a line-up as “That Damn Show”, nor such a following for a radio station that, in my opinion, rivals KROQ in caliber. Not to mention that they sure know how to put on a party, even in that damn heat.