So Cal Rock Revolution @ The Queen Mary 6/19/07

Written by Big Smile Staff

Posted Jun 19, 2007, by The Bear.

So this past Saturday (the 16th) I went down to Long Beach to see AHL’s So-Cal Rock Revolution at the Queen Mary, and I have to say it was quite an event. Even permanently moored and set up in an enclosed moat, the Queen Mary is still an impressive ship, and still leads a very productive life, serving as hotel, tourist attraction, and performance venue. Only two of the six stages were actually on the ship, but even throughout the rest of the performance area that ship is an imposing backdrop.

I got there around 11:30 AM and scouted the area out. There were six stages, and about 60 bands. The main stage (stage 1) was easy to spot; it was in the middle of everything, it was bigger than the other stages, and all of the other stages sort of sat around it in a kind of satellite formation. Easy to get around, but raising the question of “will the main stage bands bleed over onto the other stages?” Unfortunately for the first band I saw, Art By Design, who performed on stage 3, the answer was yes. Whenever they weren’t playing loudly, they had to contend with the loud sounds of Deibler over on the main stage. Not an auspicious start to the day.

Happily however the rest of the smaller stages did not have this problem. Stage 2 (which was by the entrance) and stage 4 (located next to the ship) were both sufficiently insulated from the main stage that this was not an issue. As for stages 5 and 6, the two indoor stages on board the Queen Mary itself, in many ways these were the best stages to perform on for several reasons: 1) they were both located in the same room and alternated back and forth. It was a lot like a big club, and if the people who run the Queen Mary ever decide they want to have a regular club on the ship that room provided an excellent example of what they can do. While one band played on stage 5, stage 6 was being set up for the next band, so as soon as one band finished the next one started with no waiting time. You could spend the whole day in that room and not have any breaks. 2) The ship’s wall completely shielded it from noise from the outside stages. 3) It was air-conditioned (at least it felt like it), and 4) This was the one area where you could buy alcohol and not have to stand in a specially designated area away from the stages to drink it.

The one problem with big festivals like this is that you can’t see everyone, although I did manage to see a lot of bands throughout the day . Following Art By Design I caught Glass Cactus on stage 5, a trio turning out an excellent blend of classic style rock. I’m sorry I didn’t see their whole set because they really knew how to lay down excellent guitar grooves. Another highlight was Limelife, who played the restaurant stage (stage 2). They describe themselves as “experimental / indie / rock” but mostly they just rock. The lead singer has a very flexible tongue and somehow manages to say/sing a lot of words in a very short time. I don’t know how he does it, but I’d sure like to know.

Then there was Bad Seed, who played a good reggae-type of blend that everyone in my group appreciated, including me. It was a nice mellow break from the harder bands of the day. They were followed later on the main stage by National Product, whom I had never seen, but whom I trust I will be seeing again in due course, as they put on a very good set. They’re usually labeled as “indie / alternative” and that may be good shorthand for a quick categorizing, but they bring a stronger, more individualized flavor to their music which helps them stand above the rest of the crowd.

The most surreal thing that happened all day occurred over on the ship stages where I saw Punk/Hardcore band Cry Havoc and Metal band Perpetual Maddness back to back. They both turned in tight, harsh, loud, fast-paced sets that had the moshers jumping – well at least until the venue security put a stop to the dancing. Yes, you heard me right; security refused to allow the kids to dance. In fact, one of my friends was specifically warned twice to stop moshing. No, I don’t understand this one either, so moving on....

I think my favorite performance came from Zebrahead, who hit the main stage just before 8:30 PM. They had taken a break from being on the road for two days just to come back to Southern California to do this show, having been in Texas the day before, and scheduled to go to Florida the next day. However by the energy with which this band connected with the crowd you wouldn’t have thought they were running a hellish travel schedule; they rocked with abandon, as if they’d had plenty of rest before-hand. Matty and Tabatabaee were in perfect sync with their singing / rapping vocals and they (and the rest of the band) got the crowd going nicely, at one point even managing to get a lot of the fans to sit down on the ground for a moment, just so they could get them to jump up from the ground when the next song started.

I decided to leave after Zebrahead’s set, however I didn’t quite make the clean getaway I’d been hoping for. As I headed toward the entrance I had to pass stage 2, where Haivyn was playing, and, liking what I was hearing, I decided to stay and watch them. The lead singer of Haivyn is one of those loud female rockers who follow the mold of Patti Smith and Joan Jett. She has a strong, hard-rock presence on stage, and the whole band rocks pretty hard too. They were a good ending to the day.

I also saw good performances from We Are Handsome, Feel the Fall, Dead Air Delay, Wingman, Prisoner’s Dilemna, and Porcelain. It was very much a festival atmosphere, and it was a good day of music.

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