Back in 1999, I drove down from Ardmore, OK to Dallas, TX with three girls loaded into my parents' Ford Taurus (yeah, I was that awesome). Actually, I wasn't that awesome. I was simply a friend who was old enough to drive and could guarantee the safety of three families daughters (yep, for all they knew, the car was full of girls). Regardless of my failure to capitalize on the sheer girl to guy odds, we embarked on a rite of passage as we were heading to our first Edgefest. And with headliners Goo Goo Dolls and Collective Soul, you knew this one was a show for the ages. I kid. But 23 years strong, this North Texas institution has brought countless talents to the stage, from the amazing to the downright awful. This year proved to be in the upper echelon of lineups.
I'm not going to lie. Before the festival had started, I only knew a fraction of the day's lineup. But that meant I was going to be surprised, good or bad. And to tell the truth (again), I was pretty blown away by almost all of the performers. My festival started with a budding talent in the group, Kitten. Fronted by frontwoman Chloe Chaidez, the band seems to be heading in the right direction. Despite being fairly early in the schedule, they got a nice reception from the building crowd. Falling in Reversed followed on the second stage and I am still wondering what their sound is supposed to be. Outside of making his lip bleed, frontman Ronnie Radke paced back and forth on the front of the stage and growled a lot into this flying mic. I'm not sure if they want to be glam, but that's how it comes off. But this is where the festival takes it up a notch.
Youngblood Hawke really brought the crowd to life. It seemed to be a trend with this year's festival as more electronic-influenced bands graced both stages. Youngblood almost seemed carefree onstage. From bouncing around all over stage to simply smiling throughout their entire set, they were definitely one of my favorite acts from the day. Back to the second stage, I was really looking forward to seeing the Mowgli's. A blend of folk and rock, they also had a lot of fun onstage but I don't think their music translated well with the crowd. I think they would have better luck in a smaller, more intimate setting. Following in the footsteps of Youngblood and taking it a few notches, Capital Cities really brought the electronics to the main stage. Where most electronic groups would falter, Capital Cities took the bull by the horns and really got the crowd going. It was definitely odd to see a crowd that would typically mosh, by Edgefest standards, dance and bounce around wildly. They were a lot of fun.
The Neighbourhood was another anomaly for me. The group had the look and sound of a rock band but with rap-inspired lyrics, it just didn't fit totally well with me. Perhaps if I had heard any of their material prior to their performance, I would have a better perspective of their sound. Yet, I know of Atlas Genius. And providing a heavier sound than their electronic brethren, they also held control of the main stage crowd. But if really wanted a heavy electronic sound, look no further than Robert DeLong. His dynamic and bass heavy set (marred by some technical difficulties) gave the dubsteppers something to cheer about. Not particularly my cup of tea, his set was entertaining and seemed to go over pretty well with the second stage audience. Following on the main stage was LA's Fitz & the Tantrums. No stranger to North Texas, the soulful sounds of Fitz and his Tantrums brought a different look and sound to the main stage but brought lots of cheers and singing.
Twenty One Pilots really caught me off guard. Coming onstage in skeleton outfits, I really had no clue what to expect. But the bulk of their set was actually pretty poppy and fairly entertaining, especially the ukulele improvisations of Top 40 songs. The Airborne Toxic Event also proved to be a smart booking and amped up the main stage crowd with its catchy hooks and singalong lyrics. The Gaslight Anthem. Meh. Did not care for them. But that's okay, because AWOLNATION would dominate the entire stadium on this day. With the exception of the headliners, AWOL probably drew the largest crowd of the day. And why not, they have skyrocketed in the last few years and could easily headline this festival some day. They also had the most crowd surfers, if that counts for anything. Not to be outdone, A Day to Remember brought the post-hardcore to the second stage. They also brought the intensity. So much so, the crowd ended up breaking the barriers stage left. Haven't seen that since Muse in 2007.
Getting down to the nitty gritty, I probably saw more Paramore shirts than anything other band shirt during the day (Deftones, a close second). Vocalist Hayley Williams knows how to work the stage and work the crowd. She had them in the palm of her hand. One of the more dynamic performers, she was also one of the more expressive artists, really connecting with their fans and the crowd, in general. Though Paramore brought more t-shirts, I think Deftones brought more loyal fans. They were out in force, staying for several hours at the second stage to catch their performance. That's the awesome thing about the second stage, no wristband is needed so anyone in attendance can get up close and personal with their favorite artist. They really put on a show. It was simple: play hard, play loud, and really mean it. It's no doubt they had so many fans in attendance, they really know how to put on a show.
Finally down to the last two acts. The headlining upstart and the elder stateman. Bush didn't have to do much to get the large crowd on their site. Starting their set with "Machinehead" was a good start. It was simply a good time. Outside of their newer material, the crowd sang out loud all of the songs that Bush made famous, culminating with a fantastic solo performance of "Glycerine" by Gavin Rossdale. Even though Bush has had a lasting impression on my musical history, I came to Edgefest for Phoenix. Years in the making, I finally had the chance to see the men of France perform live. Opening with a fantastic performance of "Entertainment", the crowd was enthusiastic, despite spending hours in the sun. It was obvious that the crowd was more familiar with cuts from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, such as "Lisztomania", "1901", and "Girlfriend". By time the Frenchmen had finished their set, a good chunk of the Edgefest crowd had left but all in all, it was a fantastic day. With the great strides KDGE has taken in the past few years, I cannot wait to see what next year holds in store. Photos of the festival are below:
Falling in Reverse
Fitz & the Tantrums
Twenty One Pilots
The Airborne Toxic Event
The Gaslight Anthem
A Day to Remember
Edgefest 23 @ FC Dallas Stadium, Frisco, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 1:03:00 PM Rating: