Last year the first day of the Tempe Music Festival featured headliner Lifehouse, a mainstream alt-rock band that had much in common with Saturday’s headliner, The Fray.
The result was that most folks came out to Saturday’s show to see more current hitmakers The Fray, leaving Tempe Beach Park comparatively desolate on the first day of the festival last year.
This year the organizers of the event, Entertainment Solutions, Inc., broke the bank to get two red-hot headliners, pop/goth/punk act My Chemical Romance for Friday, and pop princess Fergie for Saturday — and it paid off big-time Friday as My Chemical Romance played to the biggest crowd on opening day in the Tempe Music Festival’s six years.
The New Jersey based band, led by lead singer Gerard Way, had the mostly black clad teen and early 20s crowd singing along from their opening tune, “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”, a blast of the band’s patented catchy power pop/punk that sounds like sped up Cheap Trick with brooding, emo-laced lyrics.
Way, an energetic frontman dressed all in black (right down to his black eye-liner) had the teen girls screaming throughout, singing along with the lyrics to nearly every tune on the set list, which included such alt-rock hits as “Famous Last Words,” “Helena” and probably the band’s best known song, the epic “Welcome to the Black Parade.”
Preceding My Chemical Romance on the main stage was comeback-ing post-grunge rockers Puddle Of Mudd, who scored plenty of alt-rock hits earlier in the decade and whose latest disc, “Famous” (2007), is the band’s finest disc since their multi-platinum selling 2001 album, “Come Clean.”
Puddle Of Mudd frontman Wes Scantlin, who proved to be an engaging stage presence in the opposite way as MCR’s Way, often joking with the audience in between tunes, led his band through several of POM’s best known hits, including “Control,” “Blurry” and “She Hates Me" (all from “Come Clean”), “Famous” and Psycho,” both from “Famous,” and a blistering cover of Nirvana’s “Breed.”
Other mainstage acts on Friday included Canadian screamo band Billy Talent, on tour with My Chemical Romance, and a trio of some of the Valley’s best bands — the Americana-tinged Dorsey, power-poppers The Summer Set and alt-rockers Dear And The Headlights, all of whom proved that they could hold their own with the better known national acts on the bill.
Impressive acts on the Emerging Artists Stage included locals Age Of Evil, a band of teenagers who play artful metal, synth-poppers Peachcake, who performed the most original set of the evening (the band’s lead singer wore a dress and cavorted about the stage in plastic red sunglasses while the other Peachcakers danced with abandon to their own catchy grooves), hard rockers Vayden, who recently scored a label deal with Silent Majority Group, and Florida alt-rockers Nonpoint, who headlined the second stage and played to the area’s biggest crowd.
Saturday’s lineup features local heroes Gin Blossoms and Meat Puppets and Fergie on the main stage, and two of the Valley’s finest acts, The Loveblisters and what laura say thinks and feels, perform on the Emerging Artists Stage.