It’s a good time to be an emo fan. With the runaway success of LA’s now famous Taking Back Tuesday Emo Night leading the charge, we now live in an age that celebrates all the angst ridden, tear inducing music that made up our best high school mix tapes. And thus, it was with much fanfare that the original Taste of Chaos festival announced a 2015 revival, featuring a lineup of top shelf acts like Dashboard Confessional, Thrice, Finch and The Used all taking the stage at the San Manuel Amphitheater Saturday, October 3rd.
With impossibly short changeovers between sets, there was music flowing from the single stage virtually non-stop. Kudos to the organizers for keeping things running smoothly and on time. The food/drink/beer situation however was less than a homerun. Those fortunate to have cash on hand quickly lost it all quickly due to $13 dollar Bud Lights that went down like water against the warm sun. Those without cash were directed to a nearby ATM and its criminally high service fee for withdrawing cash. Hey, at least waters were under $5.00 right? (Read: $4.75)
Hydration issues aside, it was immediately apparent that this was a disparate crowd united in music. People watching grew to be a wonderful distraction and the venue’s prime location in San Bernardino drew a unique crowd of all shapes, sizes and colors.
Of course, the main star was the nostalgia heavy lineup of emo/screamo/pop acts that ran from noon to night. Highlights included a powerful, nearly flawless set from Thrice, whose much anticipated return to the stage was felt by a crowd eager for more. Panty-dropping sets from Dashboard Confessional and The All-American Rejects kept the ladies (and men) swooning late in the evening while the early afternoon was owned by Finch and the triumphant return of The Movielife.
However, like girl jeans on dudes, some of the music present didn’t quite age quite as gracefully. A long awaited set from Glassjaw left many underwhelmed, with formerly wild man Daryl Palumbo sounding slow and generally off key.
The festival’s biggest surprise can be attributed to Blink 182 bassist and frontman Mark Hoppus, who provided fans with a DJ set late in the day. What does this mean, you ask? Think Girl Talk but with way more pop punk. Despite a few rookie glitches, the set was mixed surprisingly well; with mashups like Taking Back Sunday and Lil Jon taking fans places they never expected. When he wasn’t button pressing, Hoppus danced around on stage and even provided some welcomed vocals here and there when dropping Blink tracks like “What’s My Age Again.”
Taken as a whole, Taste of Chaos was one hell of a good time. Sure, we were all a little poorer and ready for a nap by the end but when you’re packing a lineup like this, it’s hard not to appreciate the strength of that powerful drug known as nostalgia.