Pointfest 29 | 9.10.11

Unbridled excitement quickly took the place of any tension as Steve Ewing, beloved front man of The Urge, took to the stage to greet St. Louis again.

 

 

 

10 Years leadsinger Jesse Hasek, enjoys a more personal meet and greet.                     Bruce Matlock Photos
 
Every now and then 105.7 the Point, puts together a lineup that pulls beyond the normal bullpen of bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Three Days Grace, Staind, and Breaking Benjamin. This year, the Point was somewhat forced into that situation, partly due to the usual already touring in the area, though the station had expressed the urge in the past to put together an ‘old school’ type event. In 2007 bands like Wolfmother, and the Killers were featured on the mainstage, and 2009s’ headliners The Offspring strayed slightly off pattern. This years grouping of Cake, Bush, and the return of St. Louis band the Urge may have been the most off kilter, yet made the most sense given the fests roots.
 
Solid lower level bands such as 10 Years, Greek Fire, and Middle Class Rut helped to make the affordable alternative rock festival more than agreeable to the ears and wallet. Playing early in the day to perhaps their largest Pointfest crowd to date, locals Greek Fire took to the side stage with a ferocity yet rawness that comes only from a fine-tuned rock act.
 
Though the songs in their setlist are more than known to anyone who has been lucky enough to see them at Fubar, Pop’s or bought their new release Deus Ex Machina, the band makes them feel fresh every time out. While watching lead singer Moon roam/couch-surf the crowd may be fun for first timer’s to the band, a real show remains on stage as guitarist Ryan Phillips, bassist Mark Joseph Roth, and drummer Johnny Venus take the band’s extended jams to other-worldly levels. 
 
Greek Fire’s Moon brings the couch back from past Pointfest performances
 
Falling in the catagory of ‘they’re here so much they might as well be local’, Hurt once again brought their violin-infused metal to Pointfest. Though the band have appeared at the last several festival’s (with the exception of a canceled performance) the crowd was as into the band as ever. The band didn’t bring new material to their set, but song’s like "Ten Ton Brick" and "Rapture" more than filled the crowds desire to mosh.
 
Sometimes radio festivals are a bit of a disappointment in that they take a band like 10 Years and bring them to St. Louis every year give them a half-hour set, and leave chances for the band to return soon lesser. Having said that, with their given half-hour, the Knoxville, TN band make the best of every second. The band brought their radio friendly songs like the introspective “Beautiful” as well as the more progressive “Fade Into (The Ocean)” which comes across as a more approachable version of Tool. Seemingly not having had enough time with the crowd, lead singer Jesse Hasek, who’s chest was emblazoned with a Rage Against the Machine song title, "Born of a Broken Man", spent much of the band’s set-ending metal jam in the crowd.

Though lead singer John McCrea’s vacant, near expressionless vocals could turn some off, Cake’s brand of alterna-folk tinged, kooky-pop nabbed the attention of Pointfest attendees in seconds flat. Despite a seven year lapse in album releases, Cake didn’t miss a beat – nor funky trumpet line, harmonized lyric or vibraslap hit. The quintet played a wide range of songs – deep cuts and hit singles, including their newest, electric organ driven single“Long Time”.

As the sun set, Cake lured the crowd in to a funky mood inducing head-bobbing and a bit of dancing; however, Chevelle set out to turn things up to eleven. The band quickly turned the head-bobbing and dancing in to thrashing, head-banging and challenged the crowd to employ uninhibited use of air-drumming. Pete Loeffler’s assertive yet beautiful mix of wails soared over a crowd full of fans yearning to hear the Chicago outfit. While full of excitement, there was an inkling of anxiety filling the amphitheater as Chevelle treated both the casual fan and hardcore fan alike by playing songs like “The Red” and even some treats from their first album, Point #1.

Steve Ewing greets the large crowd at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

The anxiety hung in the cool air as the sun set to Chevelle’s heavy soundtrack and remained through the set change. Unbridled excitement quickly took the place of any tension as Steve Ewing, beloved front man of The Urge, took to the stage to greet St. Louis again as a member of The Urge for the first time in over six years. The soulful and funky rock-ska sextet showed no sign of rest; Ewing and Co., teeming with energy dove in to their set with ferocity. The horn lick to “Violent Opposition” was the starting pistol, and a fitting opening for the set, which featured many songs from 1995’s Receiving the Gift of Flavor.

“All Washed Up”, one of the singles to garner the group some attention from beyond St. Louis county lines in the 90’s, got every butt out of a seat, off the grass in the lawn and even sent people sprinting from the bathrooms to join along in the dance party taking place with 17,000 of their closest friends. “Say Yeah”, the group’s newest single, continued to hold the audience’s attention and was a catalyst for more energy to come. After wrapping up their new tune, Ewing antagonized the crowd with some fun banter about the reunion and provoked the crowd with talk of chaos and booze, leading to him jumping in to “Open All Night (Going to the Liquor Store)”.

 

The Urge return again Nov. 11th, and 12th at the Pageant.

“Closer” sent the crowd to frenzy with its abrupt opening and ended with a camp-fire sing along to Ewing’s discretion, the crowd repeatedly crooning his “Who-oa”’s while the horn section aided in the communal singing. With “Closer” the group had reached their apex and no one, on stage or in the crowd, was going to look back. The set continued on through “Four Letters and Two Words”, “Jump Right In”, “Brainless” and “It’s Gettin’ Hectic” to close out their all-too-short set. As I looked out over the crowd and over my fellow Urge fans on the lawn I saw waves rolling over and crashing from the back of the house all the way to the front – fans literally jumping right in during the song directing them to and during “Hectic” the thrashing created a tidal wave, jolting each and every person in the amphitheater. The crowd attempted to lure the six band members back on stage to perform an encore, continually insisting they “Play that motherfuckin’ Urge shit!”, but to no avail. Due to Pointfest’s festival-like nature, Bush was to close the night with the longest set.

 Bush would typically be lucky to have the closing set, but given The Urge’s local roots and hype over the reunion, Bush was met with a thinned out crowd. Though fans trickled out to the parking lot moments before Bush took stage, Rossdale came out with a smile brighter than the lighters illuminating the lawn for their 1995 hit “Glycerine”. Rossdale’s gravelly baritone only faltered slightly once or twice, but was easily overlooked as Bush, much like The Urge, had been on hiatus/broken up. The band’s grungy and rich guitar compositions, pounding percussion and vast vocals provided warmth on a chilly night and wrapped up Pointfest 29 in a stunning  and nostalgic walk down 90’s alternative lane. | Bruce Matlock & Jenn Metzler

 

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