Despite local schools having already started their fall semesters, Sacramento residents still had enough appetite for at least one more musical hurrah in the form of City of Trees – an end of summer festival by local indie music radio station Radio 94.7. (For the record, Sac residents still have another chance with Aftershock next month for their live music festival fix for those metalheads and hard rockers.)
For the third straight year, Radio 94.7 hosted its summer celebration of indie rock on Sunday, September 24 at Paper Murphy’s Park (formerly Bonney Field) in the Cal Expo. While it was great to be in such a great live music setting, it was hard to shake the bittersweet feeling that summer has ended and that winter was coming.
The energy of the crowds amongst the festival’s four different stages seemed to come and go as time passed despite repeated pleas from numerous vocalists to bounce, dance, and whatnot. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that was it was actually a pleasant September day in which the temperature barely measured 90 degrees. However, in Sacramento, there’s really no reason to expend extra energy unless you’re already suffering in sweat.
The Greeting Committee had the unenviable privilege of opening the one of two main stages, but there was a surprisingly large crowd ready and willing to rock out with the mostly teenaged musicians who made up the Kansas City-based indie rock band. If any band truly encapsulated Radio 94.7’s youthful sound, it would be TGC with its hit song, “Hands Down.”
It’s commendable that organizers showcased several local acts like Rituals of Mine and Write or Die, but the festival grounds’ layout didn’t necessarily promote them as best they could. The same could be said for the DJs who performed at the adjacent Bacterium Stage, such as Joyzu and Zephyr. Sure, the stages are near a few food and craft vendors, but the artists felt so much like add-ons rather than featured guests. Part of this was a result of the venue’s permanent layout, but perhaps organizers can find a middle ground that gives these musicians a much more prominent space with additional active listeners.
Getting people to dance was a prominent theme. I don’t remember listening to anything too somber nor too dreary since most acts kept it light and upbeat. It was hard not to at least bob your head to alternative band and City of Trees veterans New Politics (“CIA” and “Harlem”) and new wave supergroup DREAMCAR (“Kill for Candy” and “Born to Lie”) made up of AFI and No Doubt alumni.
Sure, Sir Sly didn’t have the most bodymoving beats (“Gold”) nor did British soulster Bishop Briggs (“Wild Horses” and “River”), but the two lead vocalists definitely used that stage space and recirculated the last remaining daylight energy. Sir Sly lead vocalist Landon Jacobs even took the time to kneel during his band’s performance in reference to the similar actions taken by NFL players that same Sunday. (As an aside, one female fan used every Briggs’ performance pause to announce how amazing the experience was. A true fan indeed.)
Perhaps festivalgoers were saving all their energy for ’80s-inspired indie pop act Bleachers (“Rollercoaster”) or Hawaii native reggae jam band Iration (“Reelin”). Either way, it felt like the most boisterous the crowd elevated ever got was when headliner and alternative punk rock trio Blink-182 (Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, minus Tom DeLonge but plus Alkaline Trio vocalist Matt Skiba) took the stage. Could’ve been the trio or it could also have been the Stranger Things theme playing just before the curtain opening (FYI: You can binge Stranger Things season two starting October 22).
Blink performed a mix of newer (“Bored to Death”) and older songs, but it was weird to hear those classics sung by Skiba instead of DeLonge, especially with the latter’s distinctive pitch. This was most noticeable on “All the Small Things” during the encore. Regardless, the trio had a ton of energy, and it was great to hear those classics like “What’s My Age Again?” by musicians who appeared to enjoy performing together. That last part could be said about all the acts who performed, which just adds to the positive atmosphere.
Quote of the day: “After the show, I’m going on the water slide,” Hoppus stated in reference to the adjacent waterpark near Cal Expo.