Sweltering heat engulfing Fontana set the initial backdrop for the weekend’s monstrous and highly anticipated festival, Epicenter 2010. The 106 degrees did not hinder the crowds, yet it incited the vibe and set the mood for the astonishing acts to come. Though the two days seemed to be dominated by headliners, Eminem, KISS, Rise Against, and Blink-182, every act had exceptional performances with two complete days of outstanding music. However, before we discuss the music festivities, an insight on the festival itself is always important. One thing is certain: KROQ understands how to host an event, for there were no major problems with logistics and facilities at Epicenter. Yes, there was the standard $5 water (which you could refill) and high-priced food, but that is expected at all concerts. There was somewhat adequate shelter from the blistering and unrelenting Inland Empire sun. All in all, compared to recent festivals, Epicenter 2010 was well orchestrated and highly enjoyable. But that’s enough non-music talk. Now to the reason 50,000 packed the Auto Club Speedway: the epic line-up.
All photos by Gary Moratz
Starting things off strong, Crash Kings ran through a quick but solid set list of some of there best known music as well as a magnanimous cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” The trio brought another, sound bending, hard-thumping show, being an excellent start to Day 1. Next, The Knux fused hip-hop, rock, and electronica to create a cornucopia of sound and instrumentation. These siblings expose the finest form of brotherly love playing with synchronized coordination and symmetric charisma. The only obstacle faced was that Big Boi had just rocked the crowd on the main stage and most people were still recovering.
Speaking of Big Boi, his performance prior to The Knux set the stage for a big day of hip hop. Though he was without the second half of Outkast, the set list was highlighted by some of their greatest hits in which he played flawlessly. Vocally, he was impeccable with a flexible and powerful flow mixed with a funk-electronic blend. “Ms. Jackson” and “Bombs over Baghdad” as well as countless other hits created pure bliss for festival goes and music lovers alike.
Papa Roach taking stage brought hardcore, metal and pop punk together for the huge crowd that seemed to absolutely be enthralled with the performance. Though many songs really drew the crowd in, when the forever-lasting hit, “Last Resort,” came across the PA, the crowd went insane with a massive sing-a-long to follow.
After a long decade apart, Bush, pioneered by Gavin Rossdale, took stage. This reunion show brought back memories of 90s alternative-grunge. “Comedown” and “Glycerine” were the true highlights of the show, which come from their debut LP, Sixteen Stone. Their performance was one of the finest of the weekend.
Another reunion took place on the next stage over: House of Pain. Everlast and the crew brought an amazing show of hip-hop classics and nostalgia. And they were well placed getting the crowd ready for the night’s largest attraction, Mr. Marshall Mathers. Eminem had, by far, the largest crowd of the day and he did not disappoint the fans. Though it would have been nicer to see more old work from Slim Shady, he brought much of the goods. To see one man breathe excitement and life into a heat-exhausted and tiresome crowd was quite astounding. He played a big portion of Recovery and sprinkled the set with the classics. He truly engaged the crowd with every aspect of the ride. Anger, humor, sadness, and recovery were the themes of the evening, and this one proved that Eminem is back in full form once again. The encore performance of “Lose Yourself” was an exceptionally magical moment.
Though called the “Hottest Show on Earth,” KISS has proved that they are the greatest show on earth. Though it seems crazy after so many years, this band is filled with circus tricks and genuine rock n’ roll. KISS did not disappoint an instant of the show, playing all the original hits rocking Epicenter 2010 to its core. This band is phenomenal in all aspects and a true iconic image of rock and roll – well worth their permanent slot in music history.
Day 2 posed to be another exciting day of amazing bands and, sadly, hotter temperatures. There really is only one way to describe the second day’s line up: solid. It was packed with heavy-hitting bands and thousands of pumped and energized fans. First up was The Academy Is… who brought enough pop-punk to go around. With a nice-sized crowd, this quintet really created a trend for the punk-themed day. The band was like a machine roaring and rocking with intense spot-on drumming and teenage angst vocals sending a message to the young, lively crowd.
The punk day continued with Against Me! delivering a crushing set of radical, inspired and love driven melodies and songwriting. Playing live, this band seems very apt to convey their band’s authentic punk abilities. They gave a classic punk performance with all that this genre offers. This band warmed up the crowd for the true punk act, Bad Religion. However, it must be made clear that Bad Religion, even after 30 years, have not lost a beat. This band had a massive, sweat-drenched crowd rocking and fueled with the spirit that started the punk rock movement. Greg Graffin seems to remain a consistent, awesome leader and talented vocalist inspiring the crowd. Through the stage presence and amazing catalogue of songs – new and old – the band seemed to stir a revolution in Fontana.
As the day continued, the performances seemed to elevate the people in attendance. The last side-stage band to take the Monster Energy stage was 80s punk heroes Suicidal Tendencies. This band was probably critical in the foundation of this genre in Southern California. The crowd was packed with people young and old, screaming and chanting along to the classic hits. With Bad Religion and Suicidal Tendencies taking stage to fully packed crowds, one thing was certain: punk is very much alive.
Now to close the hot and mind-blowing weekend was one of the strongest bills in a long while: 30 Seconds to Mars, Rise Against, and Blink-182. Jared Leto and the gang came on stage with the presence of an epic stadium band and had the most crowd interaction of the weekend. The band made their way through their best works including many songs off the latest record. Massive sing-a-longs and screaming girls were the typical crowd responses of the very popular 30 Seconds to Mars trio. Meanwhile, the crowd was drenched with high-powered hoses, which gave a break to the still-strong sun.
As the sun dimmed and the weekend was coming to a close, the mighty Rise Against took the stage and set the crowd off. They captioned a mighty revolutionary- a socially conscious set list – which was one of the strongest shows the second day had to offer. Fueled and charged by political views and a strong sense of humanity, their music serves as perfect rebellious punk. It also helps to have amazingly catchy guitar/bass riffs, intense percussion, and Tim McIlrath’s mind-altering vocals.
Finally closing out the festival was pop-punk royalty, Blink-182. The world of music is so much brighter with Tom, Mark and Travis playing again as friends. Potty humor and pop-punk brilliance is what this trio brings to the stage. They played all the hits (minus a few) in only ninety minutes. Mr. Barker is always the highlight with his tremendous drumming and the intensity he brings. However, Hoppus and DeLonge add their own unique sounds making this band a well-oiled machine of superb music. Finishing the weekend off with “Damnit” was the perfect cap to Epicenter 2010.
All photos by Gary Moratz