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National Acts The end of summer is cause for celebration, and what's better than a genuine, bona fide opportunity for musical time travel?
Some of alternative rock's finest Weebles (they may wobble, but they don't fall down) descend on Tempe for three days by the fake lake. Summer Ends, like a beacon in the night, sends out a message to all wannabe hippies, drug-crazed college kids, and wide-eyed concertgoers to come hither so it can sell them T-shirts and beer and spray 'em with a water cannon.
On Friday, Capital Cities, the Los Angeles-area '80s revivalist indie-dance band, headlines an eclectic lineup. The horns and the synths of the group's single "Safe and Sound" were inescapable during the past year, and if you don't recognize the name, you'll recognize the song, guaranteed. Sandwiching locals Dry River Yacht Club between Lindsey Stirling and Brooklyn's American Authors, another dominant force on alternative rock radio last year, is a feat of pure scheduling genius. Stirling, of course, is the Gilbert-born instrumentalist who overlays violin on top of dubstep-inspired beats, and whose act received a brutal verbal smackdown from Piers Morgan on America's Got Talent a few years ago. O.A.R. and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness round out the lineup on the main stage in what proves to be a strong, diverse kickoff to this event.
Talk about welcome back to 1982, Saturday's lineup is simply stellar. Headliners The Replacements have tons of Phoenicians shaking in their stylish shoes and salivating at the idea of getting shitfaced to one of the premier drinking bands of all time. Cabs, people, take cabs. Rumor has it Descendents are playing their seminal album Milo Goes to College in its entirety at many dates on this year's festival circuit, which alone would be worth the price of admission. Be sure to check out the cool grooves of Luscious Jackson when your time machine visits 1992 during the afternoon, although Taking Back Sunday may painfully remind you it is still 2014 when they play a few hours later.
Summer Ends will conclude with possibly the best purveyors of pure pop bliss the festival has to offer, as Foster the People headlines on Sunday. Sing-alongs will definitely happen, although the over-40 set most likely will relive past glory while dancing their asses off to the Violent Femmes, who take the stage at the ridiculously early time of 3:30 p.m., just before Kongos. What a great way for Kongos to say hello to their home away from home and set the stage for the mega-'80s revival act, Fitz and The Tantrums.
Each day promises something special for both the music snob and the casual fan in your group of friends and if they're lucky, they might even take a short walk down the street and get a table at Restaurant Mexico while a band they don't want to see is playing. (Free tip: Order the number six with soup-style beans. You won't regret it.) --Tom Reardon
Visit the next page for the full Summer Ends schedule