Continued from here.
That morning, I met some folks at the Airbnb who were also going to the festival, so I hopped in with them, and arrived nice and early to the site for the second day. Much more of an emo feel to the day (with the exception of happy ska-punkers Less Than Jake). The first couple bands played pretty solid sets of earnest punky rock, but Story Of The Year were the first band I knew. A real throwback to the early 00’s emo phase, both for me, and the world, and probably the most cliche of all the bands I remember from those days. Overtly stereotypical emo lyrics and wacky on-stage antics were always a strange mix, and lead to them being the unwritten target of a lot of criticism for the ’emo’ genre and punk rock songs. These days they’ve lost a guitarist, lost the back flips, and written some new songs. They’ve also lost their edge. A fine set, but only the ‘classics’ for want of a better word, got much of a reaction, and the sound was weak with only one guitar. It’s nice to see them outliving the critics though, and still doing what they love – it’s almost inspiring.
Less Than Jake did exactly what was expected, a good set of heart-felt ska punk track about leaving home and all the rest. Another throwback for me, and always a good show. The Wonder Years have the same lyrical content, but a different take on it, more depth, more depression, and less ska. Their part of the new pop-punk scene that’s really progressed from the late 90’s, and while it hits a lot of the same notes, there’s a raw honesty to it, a sincerity that strikes a new chord with the new generation of disillusioned youth. I’d not seen them before, and I now like them more than ever, I’ll be going again (when I move out of the mountains…). They’re probably top of the list of bands I would recommend from this festival if you were to ask. Anthony Green is the lead vocalist of another old favourite band of mine, Circa Survive. Generally lumped in with the emo scene, but I always felt that was an insult for this band, they had a more intricate song writing ability and some serious talent that just calling them ’emo’ was an offense. Anthony has done various side projects, and a solo project as well, so seeing him play these other songs, with a carefree attitude that comes with the success of multiple musical projects and enough time in the scene that he has friends to join him up on stage, and just have some fun with the music. Not as good as Circa Survive, but interesting to see him doing something different.
The Story So Far definitely belong in the same new wave pop-punk category as The Wonder Years, but they’ve got a bit bigger. I personally don’t think they’re better, and honestly I don’t like seeing them live. I was a big fan of their first album, but the later efforts haven’t hit the spot for me. I’ve seen them once before, and I didn’t get to hear much of the tracks I like, and this time was the same – not that a blame them for that. Personally I find the front man really off-putting he has the swagger of Noel Gallagher from Oasis, and a similar dress sense, and to me it puts off a vibe so un-punk that it hurts to watch him. The arrogance comes off him like a bad smell, and while I feel like punk is about not being judgmental I just can’t like him. I’ll stick to their albums, and be dodging live. The final band of the festival is emo/punk-rock royalty – The Used. Probably one of the most stereo-typically emo bands, somehow more cliche than Story of the Year, but also able to get away with it because they pretty much invented some of those cliches. They’ve had a rocky history, but survived and are now adored, they were paving the way for the really huge bands to come in afterwards. A great show, but I sneaked out part way through the encore to make sure I could actually get an Uber. I found the pizza shop, ordered a pizza, and waited. Got home a decent time that night.
The next day was the mission back to Downtown LA, so buses, trains, long waits, and finally Union Station. I decided to explore a bit more this time, heading out along Olvera Street, a little slice of Mexico right opposite the station, and into China Town. From there into Radio Hill Gardens a spot that could’ve been nice, but was now more of a home for the homeless than a garden. My target was Elysian Park, but getting around on foot wasn’t ideal, I did finally make it though, and it’s not too bad, it’s just a shame about the views and complete lack of maintenance. The park doesn’t have many paths, and areas are overgrown, nearly every hard surface has graffiti and there’s basically no signage in the entire park. I did find the swing up on the hill, a nice touch and I’m surprised it’s survived. In every direction the park is surrounded by city, big ugly grey city. The view towards downtown is almost nice, but the giant parking lot for the dodgers stadium ruins that. I did get my first glance at the Hollywood sign, which was kinda cool, although hard to spot through the smog. I pretty much walked the whole park, and by the time I had I was craving some WiFi to order an Uber back into town, but sadly no. It was a bit of slog, but I did eventually make back through to China Town and into Downtown. I did get to see the Grand Park, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall along the way, so my eyes were happy even if my feet weren’t. By the time I got back to Santa Monica I was more than ready for an early night.