Pointfest | 05.10.14

fest AFI 230 20140510AFI vocalist Davey Havok possesses some of the greatest pipes of the genre, growling and snarling while holding on to melody and nuance.

 

 

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Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, St. Louis

Saturday saw the return of Pointfest to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. With 29 bands on 4 different stages, this was one big festival. Music fans of every age and variety were present, making it an eclectic and well-rounded event, a celebration of music as well as style. With pop sensations Neon Trees, to alternative heavy-hitters like AFI and the Offspring, this year’s crowd welcomed the variety, which has not been seen at Pointfest in a few years.

Two entire stages were built side-by-side for this event, the Black Stage and the White stage. Kicking off at noon, Hollow Point Heroes took the Black Stage. Playing tracks from their debut album, HPH were a great start to the day, with searing guitars and killer vocals.

Up next on the White Stage was local band and Pop’s Pointfest winner Arythma. The five-member band has opened for such acts as Disturbed, Bullet for My Valentine, and Hollywood Undead. Arythma are heavy and aggressive, yet melodic. With one EP and a full-length album, Life…Changing, under their belts, the band rocked it hard. Vocalist Chad Sweazea has a voice that can go from pure and melodic, to an outright raging howl. Bassist Douglas Kessinger keeps relentless time with flair and precision. It was obvious why Arythma won the Pop’s contest. They are much more than a mere heavy alternative band; they possess their own unique style and sound. Closing their set with “Void” from their EP, Arythma was very well received by the crowd, and I expect we will hear big things from them in the future.

 The-Offspring 048 20140510After a small break, the next band up was L.A.’s Chelsea Wolfe. Bringing what is described as “drone metal art folk” to the stage, their 20-minute set started out with 15 minutes of sound and technical problems. Many fans lost interest and walked away. Once they started playing, with dissonant keyboards and a shrill, harsh vocal from Wolfe, the remaining fans filtered out, as well. Honestly, Chelsea Wolfe is more art than music; unfortunately, the fans either didn’t get it or didn’t like it. Either way, the band seemed out of its league at Pointfest. Whether or not they are acceptable as art is debatable; musically, however, they were subpar and unlistenable.

At this point, I decided to check out the tunes coming from the Pop’s Stage. Making my way to the other side of the amphitheater, I saw the vendors out in full force. From jewelry, sunglasses, t-shirts, and other wearables, to fancy hookahs and even cars; just about everything a music fan would want was available.

I next encountered Midnight Hour, a band from right here in St. Louis. Lead singer Patrick looked like he stepped out of 1986, with long, bleached hair and white leather clothes—then he started to sing, and my face dropped. They came across as your typical metalcore band, complete with vocals un-decipherable to the human ear. Musically, they were spot on; vocally, they were disappointing and common.

Moving onward, back to the Black and White Stages, I arrived just in time to catch Crosses. They were fantastic! This is the kind of band I was excited to see at Pointfest. Hailing from L.A., this band is the side project of Deftones lead singer Chino Moreno. Their debut album, dubbed “witch house” in style, is making big waves on the scene; music fans are eating the band up. Playing their recent singles, including “Bitches Brew,” Crosses are gathering quite a following, and will be touring with Pointfest attendees Nostalghia after their festival dates.

Now it was time to take a break from the music and hop on the tour bus belonging to L.A. gypsy punk artists Nostalghia, for my exclusive interview with the band. Though the band went un-advertised by Pointfest, the crowd was ready for Ciscandra and her cohorts. As they are one of my favorite new artists, I was thrilled to have the chance to meet and interview them. Their set on the Pop’s Stage was intimate and explosive. Drummer/keyboardist Roy Gnan and live cellist Claire Courchene turned over an intense set, while vocalist/lyricist Ciscandra Nostalghia gave a most incredible live performance. With a voice like a demonic angel, Nostalghia tore through tracks from their debut CD, Chrysalis. Delivering songs like “Stockholm Syndrome, “I Am Robot (Hear Me Glitch),” and my personal fave, “Homeostasis,” Nostalghia are the type of artist Pointfest is custom made for, and it was truly exciting to see them there.

 Neon-Trees 045 20140510After a break and a bite to eat, it was on to the Main Stage, where first up were pop sensations Neon Trees. While some fans wondered why such a band was on the roster this year, it was artists such as these that made Pointfest a more diverse show than in past years—and they rocked it out! Playing selections from their previous releases, as well as their newest opus, PopPsychology, lead vocalist Tyler Glenn sang his heart out for the now heavy crowd, all the while sharing with the audience his personal growth over the past year. “I am one happy guy!” he exclaimed, as he explained his going to therapy and coming out of the closet. Playing their newest single, “Sleeping with a Friend,” along with other tracks from the new CD, including “Love in the 21st Century” and “First Things First.” Glenn thanked the Pointfest crowd for coming early to see them. After a short 45-minute set, Neon Trees said goodnight, making the way for heavy-hitters AFI.

After a short breakdown of the stage, alt-metal’s own AFI hit the stage. AFI (which stands for A Fire Inside) are sweethearts of the alternative music scene. Formed in 1991, they have grown more avant garde over the years, setting themselves apart from most other alt-metal/metalcore acts. They have received kudos for being more melodic than most of their contemporaries, and their newest release, Burials, is a testament to that. Playing their newest single, “I Hope You Suffer” along with tunes like “Girls Not Grey” and “Miss Murder,” the band seemed to truly be enjoying themselves on stage. AFI have a large, dedicated fan base, and that was made even more obvious on Saturday night. With a sound that has evolved over time, they have carved a definite niche for themselves with alternative music fans. Their set was blistering, and technically amazing. Vocalist Davey Havok possesses some of the greatest pipes of the genre, growling and snarling while holding on to melody and nuance. AFI slayed the Pointfest audience, leaving them sweaty and wanting more. Though their set was only 55 minutes long, they made the most of every one.

Next up to grace the stage was Queens of the Stone Age. Now, admittedly, I am not their biggest fan, yet tonight the band impressed me. Coming off the release of their last CD, Like Clockwork, their folk-alternative style was right at home at Pointfest. With tunes like “No One Knows, “I Sat by the Ocean,” and “My God Is the Sun,” QOTSA put on a meticulous set, showing off their technical skills while keeping their sound and style intact. Again, this is the type of band that gives Pointfest its edge. I arrived not a fan, and left with a new band in my likes. That’s what a festival is all about, folks—and it even works on me.

Rounding out the night’s festivities were The Offspring. Someone in the crowd asked me, “Why are they on tour? They don’t even have new stuff out.” I smiled as I replied, “They’re touring simply because they can. They’re The Offspring. They don’t really need a reason.” Alternative music fans love this band…and The Offspring showed everyone why that night. A steaming set of rock came from them, with tracks like “The Kids Aren’t Alright” and “Self Esteem.” The pit was crazy with energy as The Offspring raged through an hour-long set. This was a superb choice of band to end this year’s festival, and what I said is true: This band does not need new material to bring the fans. An hour-long set is not enough for most Offspring fans, but it had to be tonight. After blistering versions of fan favorites “Gotta Get Away” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job,” the show came to a close. Another Pointfest is now a memory, and most fans look forward to the next one. I know I do.

Though this year’s gathering was not a sellout, the fans left happy and exhausted. I would say this year was a success on many levels. The variety of acts alone was a nice change of pace, though more acts that have not played so many Pointfests in the past would be nice to see in the future. | Marc Farr

Photos by Greg Artime

About Marc Farr 244 Articles
Marc Farr is the Live Music & Assignments Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. He's so invaluable to us, we've nicknamed him Mr. Music. Reach out if you have coverage ideas! "I know it's only rock and roll...but I like it!"
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