March 15th, 2014
Saturday morning outside the gorgeous University of Phoenix stadium, the sun shined down like a perfect spotlight on the freshly built stages, warming them up for the exciting day ahead – Liquid Sol Festival 2014. Tammy and I had our sunscreen on and our backpacks overflowing with notebooks, cameras, and water, ready to catch as many sets as we could. There were three stages set up across the fest, and we planned our day out to a tee so we could effectively watch a little of everyone. We ended up getting to catch 15 out of the 23 bands there, and each one had their own unique style they added to the day, giving the festival a dynamic and energetic atmosphere unlike any other.
Lovehammers opened the Beer Pavillion stage and brought an insane amount of energy for 11 in the morning, waking everyone up and prepping them for the fun, music-filled day ahead. The White Buffalo opened the main stage and blew us away before the clock struck noon, playing with deep, sorrow-filled intensity the entire time. They delivered one of my favorite shows of the entire fest, filling the stage with true feeling and heartfelt music. Authority Zero drew one of the first big crowds of the day to the Beer Pavillion and excited everyone with their fast-paced, punk-rock-feeling performance. Cracker was a perfect fit for the afternoon slot on the main stage; the crowd jammed out under the hot sun to their chill tunes. Back to the Beer Pavillion, Travis Warren from Blind Melon gorgeously sang “No Rain” like it was a celebration, turning the grounds into one big party with everyone smiling and dancing to the dark lyrics.
Vertical Horizon kept the crowd engaged with an exciting set featuring songs like “Everything You Want” and “You’re a God.” By the time Tonic hit the Beer Pavillion stage the crowd was overflowing, teeming with groups of people mingling on blankets. Everyone stood up to watch them as they put on an incredible show, playing songs like “If You Could Only See” and “You Wanted More.” Kelley James brought another dimension to the festival, using a mixture of pop, hip hop, and reggae to intrigue the audience and steal their attention as the sun began to set. Running back and forth from stage to stage throughout the day, Tammy and I saw a steady stream of people slowly begin filling up the grounds, and by nightfall it was packed. It was a beautiful site to see so many people excited about music, laughing and having fun in the open Arizona air.
Even with the sun-setting rays in their faces, Fuel delivered a captivating set and ignited sing-alongs to famous songs like “Hemmorage” and “Bad Day.” Buckcherry followed their lead, tearing up the stage and allowing the crowd to sing along to their favorite songs like “Lit Up” and of course, “Crazy Bitch.” One of the greatest sites to see during Buckcherry’s performance was a teenager who looked embarassed to be there with his parents pause for a song and sing it with them, too caught up in the fun, good music to care about what he looked like. All day the bands were bringing people together, new relationships being created left and right because of their common love for music. In between rocking out to Fuel and Buckcherry we ran over to the beer garden tent to catch the end of Flava Flav announcing Royal Bliss, giving us a good round of laughs. We stayed for as long as we could to jam out to Royal Bliss, watching in awe as they killed their performance, turning people’s heads from across the grounds and making many wish they had the VIP access needed to watch them.
Over on the main stage, Ed Kowalczyk kept the crowd grooving during the normal mid-afternoon lull from being in the hot sun all day. He made sure to play classic hits from the band that rose him to fame, Live, like “I Alone” and “Lightning Crashes,” with the latter making everyone in the festival, no matter where they were, stop and listen to the timeless, stunning song. Gin Blossoms started to draw a crowd next, and looking at the size of it you’d have no idea that they weren’t headliners. They got everyone dancing to “Hey Jealousy” and “Follow You Down,” throwing everyone in the crowd back a few years to their fun memories with old friends jamming out in their cars to the popular hits. Everclear performed next on the main stage and were one of the first to play after the sun set, jamming with a cooled-down, half-tipsy crowd to “Father of Mine” and “Santa Monica.”
By the end of their set the dark night sky had fully taken over, and the crowd was set for the big show. The lights hit the stage and the entire festival went quiet as they waited for The All-American Rejects to come out. AAR blew up the stage with one of the most theatrical performances I had ever seen. Tyson Ritter jumped around the stage, acting out the songs as he sang them, even rolling around on the floor while singing “Fallin’ Apart.” The guitarist, Nick Wheeler, wasn’t much different, running around with Tyson, tossing water from a bottle onto Tyson and the crowd, never missing a beat. Bass player Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor delivered all night, bringing their own pizzazz to the stage to easily keep up with Tyson and Nick. AAR interacted with the crowd all night, and at one point Tyson called one girl out saying, “Honey, I know that’s not your real nose, but that’s okay, everyone here tonight is so beautiful,” making everyone smile.
Train was next, and after waiting for hours in the warm sun the audience was more than ready to watch them play. They opened with “Help Me,” and kept the energy up all night playing songs like “Drive By,” “Hey, Soul Sister,” and “Meet Virginia.” I was wondering why it seemed like the crowd knew every song, then I realized it was because Train just is that popular; everyone really did know and love each song. In order to make the crowd happy Pat Monahan made sure to touch on as many songs as he could, singing just a verse and a chorus for some because they were running out of time; he didn’t want anyone to leave without hearing their favorite hits. Like AAR, they interacted with the crowd, making everyone laugh and feel a part of the show. Train even brought some people on the stage with them towards the end, making a few fans’ dreams come true. They closed the night with “Drops of Jupiter,” bringing the whole festival to an end with everyone in attendance swaying together and serenading each other to the beautiful song.
At the end of the day, the festival was a huge success. The weather was picture perfect, and the patrons, young and old, ran around with smiles on their faces all day. One of my favorite parts of the day was watching parents share the experience of live music with their children. The crowd had an incredible range of ages, and countless families were there making memories together that will last years. So many other great artists, including but not limited to, The Virgin Marys, 7Horse, and 28 North graced the VIP stage, filling it with pure talent and amazing music. No matter their taste, there was something at the fest for everyone to love. The mixture of the constant music, the amazing energy from the crowd, and the beautiful weather made for a remarkable festival that people will look back at and smile about in the months and years to come.
Make sure to keep checking the site for more of Tammy Vega’s great pictures from the Fest, here is just a few of my favorites!