Date: Saturday, July 16th, 2011
Line up: X-Fest 2011 – IRATION, FACE TO FACE, BUSH, INCUBUS
Location: Cricket Wireless Amphitheater. Chula Vista, CA. (All Ages)
Think back to the first time you heard an IRATION song, or went to one of their shows. Were you (A.) Thinking “Whoa, this band is sick! I bet their gonna blow up.”, (B.) Not thinking anything because you were lost in the rhythm, or (C.) Kind of both? Personally, I went with (C.). Evidently, San Diego’s premiere rock station, 91X, is thinking along the same lines, and if sharing a stage this past weekend with a few of the biggest and most influential artists in today’s popular music is any indicator of where they’re at, I’d say they’re right on the brink of going huge this year.
12:00PM. The day started fairly early for fellow Pier photographer David “The Poacher” Norris and me. X-Fest 2011, presented by San Diego’s alternative rock station, 91x, was not slated to begin until 3:00PM. We wanted to get there early before people flooded in, to say hey to the band, and get a feel for Cricket Wireless Amphitheater, which neither of us had ever shot before. Plus, Iration’s team had invited us to a little pre-show island-style lunch, complete with Kalua pig. As we arrived, we could hear Incubus soundchecking in the background.
Norris and I walked the grounds, and talked with the stage crew, and took some test shots during the Face to Face and Iration soundchecks. Such a cool experience, being in a nearly empty amphitheater, feeling the energy of an impending concert, everybody working together to dial-it-in right for an epic show.
The gates to the festival area were opened, and the crowd began to fill in. There were booths from Litebox, Sanuk, Sector 9, and other sponsors, and a smaller stage set up to feature 4 opening bands. We were only able to catch one set – the one that I was very anxious to see: Little Hurricane. One part The White Stripes (co-ed duo with a girl drummer), one part The Black Keys (gritty, tonal rock twosome), with a dash of old-timey female vocals. Very good and worth checking out.
That, followed by Iration’s autograph signing and 91X interview, and at 6:00PM sharp it was time for them go on. The pit at the front of the stage was already at full capacity, and the seats and lawn were filling up quick! Norris and I shot the first 3 songs from the front, just below the stage, then went up top to photograph the rest of the set. Lexo the Great was riling ’em up from side stage, and another friend of the band, Chad, was filming. Also in the house, Xavier from Silverback Music, and members of the So Cal-based reggae rock band Hi Roots.
IRATION’s clean, catchy, and melodic “New Roots” vibe was definitely getting the crowd warmed up. In fact, they were LOVING it! By the end of the set, everybody in the pit had their hands in the air, waving them like.. well, you get the idea. Even as I was taking photographs, I couldn’t help but dance!
The next of the 4 headliners to go on was punk rock/rockabilly staple, FACE TO FACE. They wasted no time picking up the tempo, and the crowd below turned more into a gaping whirlpool of moshing fans. The band was appropriately loud and very energetic, even after 20+ years of givin’ it!
Now, you may be wondering where the band BUSH has been the past few years (hint: fathering Gwen Stefani’s kids), but safe to say, they’re back. The fading sun was replaced by a flood of green stage light, and the smoke machine created an ambient fog.. perfect elements to highlight the band’s alternative rock sound and Gavin Rossdale’s grungy British vocals. As incredible as you’d expect!
And finally, INCUBUS. Just SO good. Being one of the more musically progressive bands in the alternative rock genre, they delivered a hard-rocking, yet ethereal array of sounds, due largely in part to Brandon Boyd’s highly recognizable vocal stylings.
All in all, a raging show, and an undeniable good time!
– Article & Photos by: Jenni Anspach