There was a little something for everyone at the Chandler BBQ and Beer Festival, and it was pretty clear who was there for what purpose. Families formed long lines in front of numerous barbeque vendors, beer cups littered the ground, and a sea of punks and drunks surrounded the main stage.
"This is the SoCal '90s tour," said Trever Keith, singer of Face to Face. Each band formed some time between the late '80s and early '90s and all hail from somewhere in the Los Angeles area, with the exception of Buck-O-Nine, who is from San Diego, and all four play some variation of ska and/or punk.
Every frontman, except Frank Casillas of Voodoo Glow Skulls said something about old age--Oldfinger was my favorite--and how long they've been in a band. The magic year of nostalgia seemed to be 1996.
"We should bring a swing band up here to complete the circle. Cherry Poppin' Daddies, dude," Keith said during one of his many lengthy set breaks. He claimed the promoter asked him to stretch out the set time, but also admitted to being drunk off a bunch of IPAs. I'm not sure which (if not both) is true, but it was fairly entertaining, especially as Keith kept complaining about his gray beard.
"I have no idea what I'm saying. I'm totally drunk on IPA right now. Playing music with a beard is a nightmare. I'm never doing this again. I'm shaving as soon as I get home," he said.
Face to Face's set was pretty similar to the one played at The Nile last year. Keith asked who was at that concert (he forgot the name of the venue) and complained about the heat and the lack of people that went to both shows.
Disregarding a few gray hairs and songs from Laugh Now, Laugh Later, Face to Face's set really hasn't changed much since their Warped Tour heyday. Keith said the BBQ Fest was essentially the "anti-Warped Tour because everyone was age appropriate."
One of my favorite moments from any Face to Face show is hearing "Ordinary" and "I Won't Lie Down" as they appear on the self-titled album. Both songs are linked by guitar strumming and Keith asking the audience to jump. Back in my invincible teen years, that meant jumping in the circle pit for "Ordinary" and pogoing during "I Won't Lie Down," but I'll leave that to the diehards now.
Although Face to Face was the headliner, Goldfinger stole the show. Their set was laced with irony, namely because Goldfinger played a barbeque festival. Read the liner notes of 2002's Open Your Eyes, and you'll see how dedicated the band is to animal rights. Frontman John Feldmann has a vegan tattoo on his wrist and said, "You're barbeque and beer people, right?" I'm a sober vegan." He later said that he hates all modern music" (except for Ke$ha, Charlie Paulson likes her), yet Feldmann is an A&R rep for Warner.
Nitpicking aside, Goldfinger had a solid set full of humor and a little chaos. Feldmann's levity included comments like, "This song is about the ability to surf and snowboard in the exact same day--with a lot of gas and a little bit of meth," he said, introducing "San Simeon" with a sped up intro.
Craig Mabbitt from Escape the Fate took the mic during the screaming part of "Open Your Eyes" and nailed it. Aside from the stoner vegan comment, the band didn't say a peep about animal rights, which is odd considering the PETA literature floating around at every other Goldfinger show. Paulson claimed the band hadn't played in Arizona for five years because we aren't a very welcoming state, and said Jan Brewer met them at the airport.
During "Miles Away," the band introduced drummer Darrin Pfeiffer's signature Twinkie trick, but held off because they couldn't find a Twinkie and there were kids and police watching, so instead, Pfeiffer drank beer out of a stinky shoe.
"I don't want to go to jail, Phoenix jails are the hardest jails in the country," Pfeiffer said, toasting to the Phoenix Coyotes. He then split the crowd in half and asked how many people had seen Braveheart, and, well, if you have seen the film, you can guess what happened as soon as the band resumed the song. If not, it looked a little something like this:
Let me get this out of the way: I'm really picky when it comes to ska, as in, if it's annoying, I don't like it. Voodoo Glow Skulls has always irritated me. I think their music would be decent if they didn't have a brass section and Frank Casillas wasn't constantly yelling and including weird laughs in songs, but that's what defines Voodoo Glow Skulls.
Casillas took the stage wearing a luchador mask and yelled "Voodoo" as the crowd echoed back "fuck you!" The songs I recognized--"Ugly Bastard," "Charlie Brown," El Coo Cool," and "Say Goodnight" all sounded like their recorded versions. The audience was constantly dancing around and a guy holding a toddler even jumped in the pit a few times. Seeing Voodoo Glow Skulls live didn't really change my opinion of them, though I can say they were very entertaining.
Buck-O-Nine is what I like about ska. I'm not sure where the distinction lies, maybe it's because it's not as in your face as a band like Voodoo Glow Skulls. I also listened to Twenty-Eight Teeth a lot in my teen years, so I was pretty stoked to see Buck-O-Nine for the first time. Their performance made me think about cool things in San Diego, like the bassist's 91X shirt, and the song "My Town." They put their own spin on covers of Operation Ivy's "Soundsystem" and "Wrong 'Em Boyo" by The Clash.
The Great American BBQ and Beer Festival was a lot like my experience snowboarding on Friday. When I was a teenager, I could play extreme sports and go to punk shows without hesitation and I loved every minute of it. Now, I'm cautious and avoid getting hurt. In spite of going down the mountain ass first and having a crowd surfer dropped on me, that cheek straining shit-eating grin kept finding its way on my face. You've got admire the folks who keep the punk faith.
Face To Face: You've Done Nothing Should Anything Go Wrong Walk the Walk Struggle Bill of Goods Pastel Ordinary I Won't Lie Down It's Not All About You You Lied Blind A-OK I Believe In You I'm Trying Disconnected
Encore: Velocity Bikeage It's Not Over
Goldfinger: Spokesman Counting the Days The City With Two Faces Answers Get Up San Simeon Here in Your Bedroom Down Open Your Eyes Miles Away Superman 99 Red Balloons
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Buck-O-Nine: Jennifer's Cold Who Are They? Soundsystem (Operation Ivy cover) Pass The Dutchie Irish Drinking Song Cook Me Into The Bowl Wrong 'Em Boyo (Clash cover) Fall Guy Voice in my Head My Town Barfly
Encore: Round Kid Calling in Sick
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: The Great American BBQ and Beer Festival at Dr. AJ Chandler Park. Personal Bias: I've been seeing bands like these since before I had a driver's license. The Crowd: Punks and curious BBQ fans. Overheard in the Crowd: "Shaun White's here!" -in reference to a guy with long, red hair in the Voodoo Glow Skulls pit. Random Notebook Dump: Face to Face didn't play "I Want." Really?