Taste of Chaos Festival Proves Emo Nostalgia is Alive and Well

Taste of Chaos Festival
San Manuel Amphitheater

The second Taste of Chaos festival in 9.5 months went down in San Bernardino on Saturday, and the emo-centric event lived up to every bit of the hype started by last year’s. Multiple generations of emo kids all came together in the desert for a full day of their favorite music, and hopefully no one left any sadder than they arrived.

Headlined by Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday, the two groups performed sets on opposite ends of the 2000s emo spectrum. Neither one disappointed the thousands of black-clad millennials in attendance.

Following an entire afternoon of emo, post-hardcore, and whatever other subgenres fell into the festival’s category, the two older acts of the day — the Get Up Kids and Quicksand — each proved they could hang with the (slightly) younger generation of performers as the final two acts before the headliners. Most of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with Quicksand, but many quickly realized how Matt Pryor and Walter Schreifels (see: Gorilla Biscuits, if you’re still confused as to who Quicksand is) helped shape the other bands playing the festival.

When Taking Back Sunday hit the stage a little before 9 p.m., it was the first time the bulk of the crowd had all gathered for a single performance. Through most of the set, the New York-based band did a great job of cycling through both new and old material to keep as many fans happy as possible. Although the older songs (“Cute Without the E,” “Timberwolves at New Jersey”) predictably got the most applause, plenty of people even knew the band’s latest track, “Tidal Wave.”

As the band’s always-talkative frontman Adam Lazzara was quick to point out (after he was done making jokes about saying the festival’s full name to earn $30 each time), Taking Back Sunday was the band much of the crowd was listening to as teenagers while they were learning to drive, ditching high school, and getting it on in the backseats of daddy’s car. Although this year’s Taste of Chaos festival lineup wasn’t quite as deep as the 2015 edition’s, Lazzara’s point was made that it’d be tough to find a more appropriate band for the day than Taking Back Sunday.

Just as the emo icons seemed to be losing steam, Lazzara decided to climb the stage’s scaffolding to hang by his legs for the latter half of “MakeDamnSure” to close out the set. It was the kind of performance you always wished to see at Warped Tour a decade ago, but it was generally too hot and bands were too worn out to really perform such acrobatics.

With Taking Back Sunday over and only Dashboard Confessional left, a good amount of the dudes at Taste of Chaos cleared out. Apparently, most of the bros weren’t there to be serenaded by Chris Carrabba — although they totally could’ve gotten a phone number or two if they pretended to know the lyrics while many of the women were in their Carrabba-induced daze.

From “Vindicated” to “The Swiss Army Romance,” and then “Screaming Infidelities” to the festival-friendly extended rendition of “Hands Down,” Carrabba proved once again that he’s the go-to heartthrob for much of the 2000s emo scene (particularly those who shelled out hundreds to meet him and see a quick acoustic set before festival doors opened). Aside from seeming impossibly nice, Carrabba let his talent shine as Taste of Chaos wound down, blending slower acoustic tunes in for roughly half of the set before letting a handful of members from other bands come out and contribute to his cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” for one of the final tracks of the night.

Of the bands to perform in the afternoon, seeing OC’s own Saosin — reunited with Anthony Green — perform to a huge crowd was certainly one of the highlights, as was James Dewees bringing out members of Taking Back Sunday, Hot Rod Circuit, and a fellow Get Up Kid to power through a hilarious Reggie and the Full Effect set to kick things off.

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