This Easter weekend was filled with 10 bands and 10 hours of music as Tempe Beach Park hosted Lucky Man's festival of punk-rock and post-hardcore bands. Tempe Beach Park Festival (the unofficial name for the event) made use of some big name acts like Offspring, A Day to Remember, and more.
The festivial used two stages, and when one band finished on the first stage, a second band began on the next. A similar formula if you've ever been to a festival with multiple stages, though some sets were a little too long. With Saturday's weather being a nice spring day by Arizona's standards and a large amount of vendors with a better selection of beer than the recent Pot of Gold Music Festival, it was a perfect day for the event.
The North Stage hosted the punk-rock artists for the day. Up first was old-school California punks Strung Out. The band made use of their time on stage to get things going and set the tone for the day. Crowd-wise, Strung Out may not have outdone any of the bands that came after them, and for starting the show they had a pretty decent sized crowd, but they set the bar for how the rest of the day would look for the punk side.
Starting things off for the South Stage, where the mix of artists shifted away from the punk rock, Michigan post-hardcore band Chiodos offered a set of material that their fans were able to vibe with. Both Chiodos and Strung Out played 45-minute sets, while the rest played an hour each. Even with their shorter set, Chiodos was able to fit in their fan-favorite, and closing song, "Baby, You Wouldn't Last A Minute on the Creek" to a roaring response.
Of the punk bands that took the stage at Tempe Beach Park, The Vandals were definitely a take it or leave it act. There was nothing that really stood out about their performance other than guitarist Warren Fitzgerald running around his somewhat goofy attire. Don't get me wrong, the set was worth watching, but it seemed to be the point in the day where people were off getting more beer and food to hold them over. The crowd that stayed appeared to be die-hards; many attendees were either wandering around or waiting for the next stage's band to go on.
As Memphis May Fire took the stage, their intense stage presence kept the crowd alive. Having never seen these guys live, their sound and overall quality of their performance left quite an impression. Singer Matty Mullins varied between screams and clean singing with ease. Several pits of people moshing around and swinging their arms sprung up during their set, with one person breaking my buddy's nose in the process. For only being a few hours into the concert, Memphis May Fire's set was something for the rest of the bands to live up to.
Returning to the punk stage, living legends NOFX gave a performance that was fast and upbeat and a bit of a breather from the in-your-face performance prior to them. What made the group more interesting was their on stage interaction with each other. Unlike the other artists that only speak to the fans, NOFX's witty banter with each other was paired nicely with their songs. It was a wonder why these guys weren't higher up on the set times. Like the rest of the punk bands, these guys have been around for quite some time and could have easily played later on in the night and still commanded the audience.
The crowd seemed to Falling in Reverse. Starting off fairly strong with music that was in line with their stage's lineup of bands, the band powered through a number of songs before things started to sound off. Singer Ronny Radke seemed to struggle during their set when he switched to parts that required him to scream, sounds as though it was straining him in the process. As far as their set went, certain songs had rapping parts that just didn't flow well with the rest of what they were putting out. Compared to the rest of the bands, these guys weren't a must-see group.
Simply put, Rancid was a lot of fun to watch. As one of the final four bands that had a strong performance, they were able to hold the attention of the crowd that was eagerly waiting for the remaining artists. The band kept things interesting with a number of songs that had each member trading off on vocal duties and playing a range of new and older material. Rancid was the first band that was able to make use of stage lights and create a visually appealing set that the other artists weren't quite able to achieve. Using "Time Bomb" and bringing Fat Mike (sporting a '92 Bush/Quayle campaign t-shirt) from NOFX on stage as one of the final songs to send them off made for a fun transition to The Used taking the stage.
If there was a band that shattered my expectations, it was hands down The Used. The band had such a heavy guitar and bass tone that was able to top everyone that came before them. The band's on-stage setup featured hollowed out TVs with lights in them to add to the visual experience with their music. The amount of energy they brought to a point in the show where fans were getting anxious for The Offspring and A Day To Remember provided a second-wind for the next few hours. The Used played a large chunk of their older hits like "Take It Away" and "All That I've Got." Prior to the end of their set, singer Bert McCracken said, "Sometimes we like to pretend we're a heavy metal band ... like Lamb of God." At this point the singer had the crowd split down the middle for their attempt at a wall of death that erupted when "Pretty Handsome Awkward" kicked in. The band ended their fun set with a medley of Rage Against the Machine and Nirvana, pairing it with "A Box Full of Sharp Objects."
I was skeptical about the Offspring, but I left their performance with a much better appreciation of the band. I had some concern that the group wouldn't sound like their recordings of the last 20 years, but they pulled through and delivered a performance to remember. The Offspring didn't have a stage presence that saw them running across the stage like some of the other punk acts, but watching them play their hits in a relatively stationary position was suitable for their set. There was no over-the-top moment or anything insane that happened, but they made use of the large monitors that acted as a backdrop to show videos that played along to the song they were playing. Out of their set list, the most fun songs to hear were "Self Esteem," "The Kids Aren't Alright," "Why Don't You Get A Job," and "Come Out and Play."
There's a lot that could be said about the final act of the night and all of it is positive. A Day To Remember proved to be the best act to close out the festival, being a band that combines elements of punk into a post-hardcore style genre, it was only fitting. Once the band began to take the stage, the people in the audience began to press even closer together and anyone that was close to the front of the stage was shoulder to shoulder with one another. It was the only set the entire day that was able to get most of the audience off their feet, either by jumping, moshing, or my personal favorite, the band's signature "surfing on a crowd surfer." While it has become something relatively common to see at festivals, it was fun to see the fans helping a girl in a wheelchair crowd surfing like everyone else, with one of the guitarists throwing a guitar pick her way as she reached the stage. A Day To Remember proved how they continue to be a contender in various genres of music with a setlist that spanned much of their discography with songs that explored their soft side such as "End of Me" and "Have Faith In Me," the heavy side with "Downfall of Us All" and "2nd Sucks," and their energetic side with "All I Want" and "Right Back at it Again." Regardless of whether you went for these guys or not, they were a must-see act that couldn't have been followed.
Personal Bias: This was a festival of music that wasn't exactly something I'd normally be at, but I couldn't pass up the chance to see The Used, The Offspring, and A Day To Remember in the same night. As someone that primarily goes to metal concerts, this was one of the more fun festivals I've been to and seeing a marriage of punk-rock and post-hardcore styles of music is something I wish more festivals would do with different genres of bands to keep it interesting.
What It Needed: If there was a complaint to be had about the event, it's that the sets almost felt too long. Having nearly every band play for an hour was a bit exhausting and you would occasionally look around to see some people blankly watching the current band as they reached the final 15 minutes of their set. It was manageable to sit through each act, but the vibe could be felt when people wanted the next act to go on.
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