Liquid Sol Music Festival - Sportsman's Park - 3/15/14

Liquid Sol Music Festival Sportsman's Park in Glendale 3/15/14

Nostalgia was one of the many themes at Liquid Sol Music Festival on Saturday at Sportman's Park in Glendale. It was arguably one of the last nice days before the summer heat starts to bloom, and the daylong festival was the perfect place for those who just wanted to throw back a few cold ones, enjoy some music, relive some memories, and have a good time. And most of Liquid Sol's performers were excited to indulge the crowd.

Train headlined a festival that essentially was the musical equivalent of comfort food, but they weren't the only rock 'n' rollers in the lineup.

Train headlined a festival that essentially was the musical equivalent of comfort food, but they weren't the only rock 'n' rollers in the lineup. The BoDeans, for instance, were also featured, taking to Liquid Sol's main stage midway through the afternoon. The recent departure of founding member Sam Llanas made the Wisconsin-based band's lead singer and guitarist Kurt Neumann nostalgic.

Before the BoDeans played songs such as "Fadeaway," "Good Things," and their signature hit "Closer to Free," he mentioned the year they were written before the band played. He stated they were written during a time when "the world seemed right." His sentiment seemed appropriate as the quintet jammed through their brand of Midwestern Americana rock.

Cracker, who performed earlier in the day, seemed just as proud of their past. Lead singer David Lowery declared "We play rock music. We know there isn't a lot of it these days. We think it's a good thing. We like guitar solos." They never shied away from their love of blues and it was apparent as they zipped through their hits "Euro-Trash Girl," "Get On This," and their biggest hit "Low."

Over on the Beer Pavilion stage, Tonic played an unusually loud set, while Blind Melon ventured in the opposite direction with new lead singer Travis Warren asking the crowd if anyone took Quaaludes, which is ironic considering former lead singer Shannon Hoon fatally overdosed on drugs in 1995. The band thanked Warren for helping to keep the project alive, and he more than succeeded in doing so by paying tribute to Hoon with a rendition of "Change" before playing the group's signature hit "No Rain."

Elsewhere, Mesa skate punk band Authority Zero actually departed from the nostalgia theme briefly to play the new song "Take It or Leave It," only to ask female members of the audience to show them their boobs afterwards.

As day slipped into night at Liquid Sol, the surprise set of the evening came from Arizona's own Gin Blossoms, who lead singer Robin Wilson introduced the quintet as Glendale's "pain-in-the-ass cousins from Tempe."

The jangle pop and light alternative rock contained in their set came largely from the Blossoms' acclaimed 1993 album, New Miserable Experience which was written with late guitarist Doug Hopkins. They strummed through hits like "Found Out About You" and "Follow You Down" with the vigor of a triumphant homecoming.

Wilson even ventured out into the crowd to give security a run for their money for "Hey Jealously," only to throw his faulty harmonica down in frustration for "Follow You Down."

One could make the argument that Everclear has always been living in the past, especially when you consider their hits "Father of Mine" and "AM Radio" are about such themes. With the exception of their 2012 release Invisible Stars, the last few years the band has coasted by on releasing cover albums and re-recording their hits.

The band seemed to struggle through their set partially because Art Alexakis' vocals were turned way down, making it difficult for anyone in the audience to hear him cry the band's early hits "Santa Monica" and "Heroin Girl."

Other sound issues popped up after Everclear's set when the microphone went out in the middle of a stirring speech by members of the Glendale Fire Department were giving a tribute to the 19 firefighters who perished in the Yarnell Fire tragedy. Since this the first year of the Liquid Sol Festival, issues with the sound can be forgiven, even when they caused bands to go on an hour later than scheduled.

Emo-pop quartet The All-American Rejects tried and admittedly failed to properly duplicate the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind" and it was merely a hiccup in a strong set, which is something of a comeback for lead singer and bassist Tyson Ritter as the band's 2009 tour was cut short because of his knee surgery.

The band powered triumphantly through their anthems "Move Along," "It Ends Tonight," and "Swing, Swing." Ritter even attempted to recreate the piano scene from "Big" with his keyboardist, a movie that came out four years after he was born.

Train ended Liquid Sol and the San Francisco-based trio was joined by a bevy of brass and backup singers for the song "50 Ways to Save a Life." Lead singer Pat Monahan then took pictures of the crowd with his cell phone for the band's Twitter feed while acknowledging that band did not have the hour and a half that they were originally allotted to play and wouldn't be able to talk much as a result.

The crowd sang along to the sugary-sweet lyrics of "Hey Virginia" and "Calling All Angels" until the nostalgia bug bit Monahan. He then switched things from their usual adult contemporary stylings to Monohan's Led Zeppelin cover band days by busting out a medley of "Black Dog" and "Ramble On," which he actually had the vocal chops to pull it off.

Monahan attributed his sudden change in behavior to the full moon that shone over the Main Stage, but the nostalgia of the 90's and bad cover songs that seemed to be uniting theme for the festival's diverse lineup.

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Liquid Sol Music Festival at Sportman's Park in Glendale

Personal Bias: I was knee deep in puberty when most of the bands I saw were in their heyday. I've never liked Train. I did not see Fuel, Vertical Horizon, Buckcherry, Kelley James, and Ed Kowalcyzk of Live fame on purpose. This had a little to do with my personal taste and more with the fact that no one on the main stage started on time.

The Crowd: Mullets! X-Files tattoos! Emo kids! And their parents!

Overheard: "Long Wongs!" shouted by middle-aged hipster guy during the Gin Blossoms set to demonstrate his cred.

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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil