Logistically, moving the music event to the tried-and-true Bonney Field at Sacramento’s Cal Expo (which currently hosts the Sacramento Republic FC soccer team) made transportation much easier for the thousands of attendees to get to and from and actually legally park their cars.
Aesthetically, however, the event lost the wonderful environment of a regional park and the freedom that goes with being able to park yourself under a tree to simply enjoy the show from afar and in some shade. That said, the stadium bleachers allowed for actual seating and good views for those not wanting to spend the entire time on their feet—a legitimate compromise, I think.
Organizers moved the event a month up from last year in a bid for cooler weather, but September in Sacramento can still be hot, which it was on Saturday. Personal plastic fans were distributed, free water made available (although the station ran dry about halfway through the day), and every inch of shade was occupied under a couple of big tents set up toward the back of the field. More than a few vocalists commented about the heat, so be assured that everyone else was sweaty too.
Los Angeles-based The Rebel Light opened the Music Discovery Stage with its ode to the lazy times of ’60s California rock, including “Strangers” and a cover of “Be My Baby” (The Ronettes). Texas indie rockers The Unlikely Candidates took it up a notch by starting with the whirlwind anthem “Your Love Could Start a War” on the Main Stage. Frontman Kyle Morris was full of energy as he moved all around including down below with the crowd during “Follow My Feet.”
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time to make it to the Sacramento Tent, which was located toward the event entrance and away from the main stages. I did manage a quick break there in time to see The Color Wild perform “Wild Things (Where the Wild Things Are)” to a very enthusiastic following.There were major sound issues with alternative rock band Weathers‘ set. I took some nice photos, but I couldn’t hear anything the band performed. I tried to later match up some lyrics I jotted down, but I couldn’t match them with anything available online. They most likely played their two big singles “Happy Pills” and “I Don’t Wanna Know.” Weathers returns to Sacramento next week, so maybe I can catch them again.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness drew large applauses throughout their entire set, which included a couple of inflatable wacky waving tube men and a large parachute that McMahon used to sing under with the crowd during “Synesthesia” (as similarly seen here). Crowd favorites were “Fire Escape” and “Cecilia and the Satellite.” Denver, Colorado-based alternative electro band 888 added a different sound to the event with some punk sensibilities on “Seattle Rain” and “Critical Mistakes.”
Phantogram provided some electronic flair to help energize the crowd. The duo performed a new heartbreak single “Same Old Blues” live for the first time, as well as big hits “Fall in Love” and closing song “When I’m Small.” On the other side of the spectrum, English rock band The Struts provided the glam that proved showmanship wasn’t dead, as lead singer Luke Spiller thrilled the crowd with his British charisma on “Could Have Been Me” and “Put Your Hands Up.”Indie rock legends Weezer followed with a setlist full of iconic hits like “Pork and Beans,” “Hash Pipe,” and “Beverly Hills.” Frontman Rivers Cuomo endured light wardrobe changes as he donned a sombrero, Hawaiian flower necklace, and cape and crown combo throughout the show. Much of the audience sang along during “Island in the Sun” to which a person next to me commented that’s when you know you’ve made it when everyone is singing your song. It wasn’t a one-time occurrence, as the audience also sang along to classics “Say It Ain’t So” and “Buddy Holly” for rapturous applause.
French DJ Kungs had a quick set to help keep the energy up during a main stage transition. Kungs mixed in Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime” and his hit song “This Girl” with Cookin’ on 3 Burners.
I never knew how popular Panic! at the Disco was until I was heard everyone in the front rows, including countless teenagers, singing along to every Panic song from the opener “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” to “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” to the self-empowerment anthem “Hallelujah.” Panic performed a traditional cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” that invited more group singalongs. My personal favorite was “Nine in the Afternoon” and its loopy melodies.
Thankfully a delta breeze hit Bonney Field right at sunset, which was a welcome relief from the previous hours of nonstop sharp sunlight. Also, exiting Bonney Field went smoothly as I replayed the bands I saw and catchy songs I heard. I foresee a repeat here next year.
Note: All photos taken by author.