All-American Rejects Were the Highlight of Saturday's Tempe Music Fest

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Celebrity sightings, beautiful weather, an on-site Circle K and a stellar music roster were part of the fun Saturday for the Tempe Music Festival. Our annual fest brought out names such as Frankie Muniz from Malcolm in the Middle, who held hands with his girlfriend most of the afternoon backstage, Little Steven from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and TV personality Brad Perry, who was recently laid off from Channel 3.

And the fest was also packed with a variety of ages for the show, which featured Three Doors Down, All-American Rejects, Mute Math, Shiny Toy Guns, The Nightwatchman and Vayden.

We hit the fest as Vayden was taking the stage and watched our AZ rock favorites blast through a killer set of tracks from their disc Children of Our Mistakes. Highlights included "The One You Left Behind" and "Karma is a Professional Wrestler."

"If they don't pay tribute to the great rock and roll bands that came before them, take them down a little notch," lead singer Curtis Casey warned the audience of local bands before breaking into a rockin' cover of The Beatles "Come Together."

Shiny Toy Guns and Mute Math played before the sun set to a large crowd. While Shiny Toy Guns performed a fun dance/rock show, Mute Math wowed the audience with an electro experimental rock performance that had lead singer Paul Meany heaving his body on a keyboard and bouncing around all over the stage.

And while Three Doors Down closed the night around 10:30 p.m., the stand-outs of the day were All-American Rejects, who followed up a rock set from Rage Against the Machine and ex-Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello's act The Nightwatchman. Their set was short, but so very sweet and left me looking forward to a longer performance.

"What an eclectic show," AAR lead singer Tyson Ritter, who was dressed in a shiny red jacket, tight red jeans and pink glittery Converse, said. "We just played after Tom Morello and a garage band. Pretty bad ass."

The charismatic Ritter led the band through AAR hits such as "Swing, Swing," "My Paper Heart," "Dirty Little Secret," and "Move Along," which had most of the crowd singing and dancing along. Other favorites included "I Wanna," "Wind Blows," "Top of the World" and "Mona Lisa."

The bulk of the group's set was from When the World Comes Down, the band's latest and greatest effort to date.

AAR concluded their performance with "Gives You Hell," the kick-ass first single off their new album, and left many of the audience wanting more.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Tempe Music Festival at Tempe Beach Park (All-American Rejects, Three Doors Down, Mute Math, Shiny Toy Guns, The Nightwatchman, Vayden, etc.)

Better Than: KEDJ 103.9 FM's annual Edgefest in the Q.C.

Personal Bias: I've always looked forward to Tempe Music Fest but felt really let down this year. I've had a blast the last two years, but found myself looking forward to leaving this year. 

Random Detail: Frankie Muniz was rockin' out while Shiny Toy Guns performed.

Further Listening: All of these bands have albums out, but we highly recommend AAR's "When the World Comes Down."

By the Way: New Times music editor Martin Cizmar was thrilled by the on-site Circle K and was excited he could order a Slurpee and Flaming Hot mix of Cheetos, Dorito's, Sun Chips and Pretzels.

One More Thing: AAR lead singer Tyson Ritter is what I like to call sex on legs. The guy radiates this crazy sexual energy.

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