Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
September 22, 2012
Unseasonably warm temperatures fittingly provided earthquake weather for the Epicenter Festival at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. A solid rumbling lineup of Stone Temple Pilots, Deftones, Bush, Chevelle, Scars On Broadway and Dead Sara brought their earth-shaking riffs to the annual alt rock show.
Billed as their only Southern California appearance of the year, Stone Temple Pilots headlined Epicenter armed with their arsenal of hits. Things got off to a rocky start for the band as they hit the stage fairly late. Guitarist Robert DeLeo fired up his Gibson Les Paul for the chugging riff of “Crackerman” augmented by the bullhorn vocal effects of lead Scott Weiland.
Mega 90's hit “Vasoline” didn't seem to have its usual punch as it was played a tad slower than I remembered when I saw them at the KROQ Weenie Roast a few years ago. Weiland was his usual twirling and dancing all over the stage and jumping up on the risers. In between songs, they would go into these weird musical interludes before finally playing the opening notes of “Big Empty” which felt like a slowed down lounge version of the song.
“Between The Lines” had some fiery fretwork from Robert DeLeo and showed that Stone Temple Pilots can turn it up when needed. Even gigantic rockers such as”Interstate Love Song” and “Plush” suffered from a slower tempo. Things did pick up with “Big Bang Baby” but seems like Stone Temple Pilots missed an opportunity to fulfill their role as the headliner.
Deftones simply destroyed. From the razor-sharp riffing of “Rocket Skates” to the eardrum crush of “Diamond Eyes”, Deftones perfectly blended in new and old songs to win over the audience. Fan favorites like “Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)” and “My Own Summer (Shove It) had Chino Moreno bouncing across the stage interacting with bassist Sergio Vega and guitarist Stephen Carpenter.
Deftones also used the opportunity for a live debut a new song “Leathers” from their upcoming album Koi No Yokan, a track they dedicated to Rob Halford of Judas Priest. The song started off in typical ethereal Deftones fashion before devolving into a crunchy guitar riff played on Carpenter's eight string guitar. Deftones were easily the highlight of the day and my favorite set. Hopefully they will be back soon to play longer than eleven songs.
The masses would probably say Bush put on the best set of the night. While it technically could qualify as a hometown show for Gavin Rossdale and company, Bush smartly stacked their setlist with old favorites and never relented during their entire set. Opening with “Machinehead” and including “Everything Zen” and “Little Things,” Rossdale had the crowd on his side. Rossdale further ensnared the audience by running up to the terrace seats to meet and greet the fans mid-set. Definitely a man of the people.
Daron Malakian of System of A Down unfurled his sporadic Scars on Broadway project. While not straying too far from System of A Down's unique rhythms and vocal stylings, “Chemicals” had some poetic lyrics and featured some detuned riffs. I'm still hoping for a new System of A Down album.
Chevelle did their best with their pile driving detuned riffs including songs “The Clincher” and “The Red”. Dead Sara were a fireball of energy and deserved a longer set. Led by ferocious front woman Emily Armstrong, Dead Sara were hotter than the temperature on stage as they whipped through a handful of songs from their debut album.
Critical Bias: Deftones were the main reason I went.
Crowd: Typical KROQ crowd with lots of Monster energy hats and logos since they sponsored the event.
Overheard: “It's so damn hot.”
Random Notebook Dump: I spotted Ron Jeremy on the side of the stage during the Deftones set flanked by two females.