Music Festivals

Guitars, Raps and a Sell-Out Crowd: Another Lovely BuzzFest is in the Books

Photo by Cory Garcia
Mike Shinoda had a huge turnout over on the second stage.
BuzzFest 2018
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
October 27, 2K18

It’s a little funny that festivals with bigger buzz — think Something Wicked, Middlelands and Day for Night — make a big splash only to disappear after a few outings while somehow BuzzFest continues to roll on year after year. But that’s the power of radio festivals for you: when you mix some acts on the rise with some nostalgic favorites, you’ve got a combination that’s guaranteed to move tickets. Sure, there was a fair share of rapping done by this year’s artists, but these crowds still love their guitars, no matter how they get them.

Lest this become a 500-word meditation on the headliner — to the disservice of the many other great acts on the bill — here’s a look at the five best sets at this fall’s installment of BuzzFest.
click to enlarge Local act Hold On Hollywood delivered early in the day. - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
Local act Hold On Hollywood delivered early in the day.
Photo by Cory Garcia
5. Hold On Hollywood

No one looked happier to be on stage all day than Houston’s own Hold On Hollywood. Smiles were in abundance, both while they were performing and as the members of the group bumped around the rest of the day. There’s some real potential in their original material, and their cover of “Take Me Home Tonight” was pretty fun.
click to enlarge Chevelle - more popular than you might think. - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
Chevelle - more popular than you might think.
Photo by Cory Garcia
4. Chevelle

Chevelle may not have an epic stage show, but they’ve built a pretty solid collection of songs that have clearly connected with the public. Dare I say it, but I think that the crowd might have been more on board with them than with the show’s headliner. If I were them, I’d give serious consideration to a Wonder What’s Next full album tour, because I think that would go over like gangbusters.
click to enlarge Grandson marches to his own drum beat, like it or not. - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
Grandson marches to his own drum beat, like it or not.
Photo by Cory Garcia
3. Grandson

I appreciate Grandson’s spirit as much as I appreciate his music. He’s going to hit the stage, he’s going to say what he wants to say and you’re just going to have to deal with, and not only does he know it, he’s not afraid to point that out. The obvious point of comparison sonically is Rage Against the Machine meets the social media age, and I don’t see that as a bad thing. We need more artists who are uncompromising in their message while also writing bangers.
click to enlarge Badflower put on an intense performance. - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
Badflower put on an intense performance.
Photo by Cory Garcia
2. Badflower

I was unfamiliar with Badflower before today, but they quickly won me over with lead singer Josh Katz’s quiet intensity. He’s the type that, lost in the music, gives off a bit of a Joker vibe, giving the performance an unpredictability that most bands try and force but seems completely natural here. The early crowd seemed completely on board with what they’re doing, and it seems like they have big things in their future.
click to enlarge A Perfect Circle's Maynard James Keenan likes to stick to the shadows. - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
A Perfect Circle's Maynard James Keenan likes to stick to the shadows.
Photo by Cory Garcia
1. A Perfect Circle

Obviously, the fact that they’re at the top of this list means I thought their performance was great, but it was also very weird. APC just don’t feel like the type of band that should headline a show like this, what with their dark colors, little chatter and hidden frontman. That probably explains why a healthy chunk of the crowd cut out early. That’s their loss, because a late in the set performance of “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” was outstanding, like something straight out of a nightmare. Their whole set sounded nearly flawless, but even with radio singles they’re not the most radio-(festival)-friendly act; still, I am glad I got to see them at a venue like the Pavilion.

Personal Bias: The only time I’ve ever been up on the barrier up front at a concert was when I saw A Perfect Circle on the tour behind Thirteenth Step. When the band came on, the crowd predictably surged forward. After about three songs I had to head to move, and once I did I could feel my guts repositioning themselves back into their normal places. I’ve yet to feel that squished again.

The Crowd: They sell the Pavilion out. They sing very loud. What more could you want?

Overheard in the Crowd: “The first concert I ever went to was Nickelback — no homo — Puddle of Mudd and Three Doors Down,” said a man. (Apologies if he said “Three Days Grace” instead of “Three Doors Down”; I feel it could go either way, to be honest.) He also said “no homo” after admitting to seeing Def Leppard. Y’all, we have to own our bad taste without reservation or casual homophobia.
click to enlarge Can't say I'm in love with his music, but Scott Stapp does know how to pose. - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
Can't say I'm in love with his music, but Scott Stapp does know how to pose.
Photo by Cory Garcia
Random Notebook Dump: Here are one-line reviews of the other bands I saw:

Kulick: I get trying to own the fact that nobody knows who you are, but maybe just say your name once at the start and once at the end and let the music, which is perfectly fine, do the talking.
The Struts: Totally not my thing, except that they were pretty enjoyable so maybe they really are my thing and I just have to stop judging books by their covers.
Puddle of Mudd: As a 30-minute nostalgia act, Puddle of Mudd is not the worst act you can book.
Scott Stapp: Danzig with fewer skulls and more Jesus.
Mike Shinoda: I’ll never complain about a set that features “Papercut”, but a slightly less triumphant set than I had hoped for.