Taste of Chaos 2016 — An Emo Dream Come True

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At the conclusion of last year’s Taste of Chaos Festival, fans were left wondering if the festival would return in 2016.  In March of this year, it was announced that Taste of Chaos would be returning, this time as a national tour with headliners Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday.  The tour also featured Saosin with Anthony Green, The Early November and special one-night performances from Saves The Day, Motion City Soundtrack and The Starting Line.  The Taste of Chaos tour concluded its  six-week run with a festival in San Bernardino on July 16, 2016.  The festival’s expanded lineup included: Quicksand, The Get Up Kids, The Starting Line, Senses Fail, The Anniversary, Hot Rod Circuit and Reggie and the Full Effect.

The Taste of Chaos Festival kicked off around 2:00 p.m., and continued until shortly after 11:00 p.m.  Like last year’s festival, a “turntable” stage was utilized, allowing for a seamless transition between performances.

Slidebar Battle of the Bands winner, Cory Wells was the first to perform, and he set the tone for the day perfectly.  Armed with an acoustic guitar and raw emotions, Wells poured his heart out on stage.  His performance was reminiscent of early Dashboard Confessional performances.

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Next up was Reggie And The Full Effect, who are always entertaining because you never know what vocalist and keyboardist James Dewees will say or do for that matter.  For example, Dewees declared himself the “Fat Mike of Taste of Chaos” between swigs of Jack Daniels, due to his weight and age, and then welcomed everyone to the “Vagrant America Tour – 2003”.  Despite having one of the shortest sets of the day, Dewees was joined by Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids, Andy Jackson of Hot Rod Circuit, Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday and Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional.

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Hot Rod Circuit have only played a few select shows since their breakup in 2007, however, their performance at Taste of Chaos made it seem as though they never stopped.  Towards the end of their set, vocalist/guitarist Andy Jackson had some technical issues with his guitar.  Apparently, this set had even exceeded the expectations of the band.  Jackson commented that they had planned to just go out there and “bang around, we’re old.” Fortunately for Jackson, The Anniversary (who were due up next) were able to loan him a guitar to finish the set, after some quick tuning he was up and running.  Hot Rod Circuit’s set did not feature nearly as many guests as Reggie and the Full Effect’s performance, however, Jackson was joined by Chris Carrabba during their final song, and biggest hit “The Pharmacist”.

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The Anniversary broke up in 2004, and since then many of the bands members have pursued solo projects or formed other bands.  Aside from some technical issues with their keyboards at the beginning of their set, The Anniversary’s performance went off without a hitch, opening with “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”.  The fans were thrilled to see The Anniversary on stage again, and were left wanting more.

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The Early November was on a brief hiatus from 2007 – 2011, however, since then the band released two studio albums, performed on the Vans Warped Tour and toured as a supporting act with Bayside.  The Early November was full of energy, sounded great and the fans enjoyed their performance immensely.

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After a relatively calm first half of the festival, fans were jolted awake when post-hardcore bands Senses Fail and Saosin took the stage.  Regardless of whether this was the result of drinking too many Rockstar Energy Drink samples, or not, Senses Fail and Saosin were a great fit for the center of the Taste of Chaos Festival’s lineup.

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The Starting Line have been on and off hiatus it seems since 2008.  Last year, however, the band released their first studio release in 8 years, an EP titled Anyways.  The Starting Line’s performance at Taste of Chaos included the hits “The Best of Me” and “Up and Go” from their first full-length album Say It Like You Mean It.  The crowd went crazy when the band began to play “Greg’s Last Day” from their debut EP With Hopes of Starting Over.  A bittersweet highlight was when vocalist Kenny Vasoli jumped off the drum kit riser, but didn’t stick the landing and landed on his butt.  He quickly jumped up though, which assured everyone that he was okay, just a little embarrassed and out of practice.  It didn’t slow him down though he continued to jump around as if he was still an eighteen-year old and heading out on tour with Finch.

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The Get Up Kids formed in 1995 in Kansas City, which made them the second oldest band performing at the Taste of Chaos Festival, Quicksand was the oldest.  Much like Quicksand, The Get Up Kids greatly influenced many of the bands playing the festival.  Unlike Quicksand, however, The Get Up Kids were known by most, if not all, of the fans in attendance.  The Get Up Kids set included “Holiday” and “Impossible Outcomes”.  During their performance of “Red Letter Day” the band was joined by Andy Jackson of Hot Rod Circuit.  For those lucky enough to make it to the Taste of Chaos early enough to see Reggie and the Full Effect they were able to see the contrast between the Get Up Kids and James Dewees side project, both enjoyable but for completely different reasons.

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Quicksand is a post-hardcore band from New York which was primarily active from 1990 – 1995, when they broke up.  The band reunited in 2012 and played a few shows before embarking on a North American tour in 2013.  Although many of the fans who attended the Taste of Chaos Festival were unfamiliar with Quicksand, most of the bands had been influenced by them.  This was probably the one performance, of the entire night, where the bands were more excited than the fans.

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Taking Back Sunday performance began with the opening theme to Disney’s The Lion King, an odd choice, but amusing nonetheless.  They kicked off their set “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team)” from their debut album Tell All Your Friends.  This was followed by “Liar (It Takes One to Know One)” and “What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost” from Louder Now.  In addition to hearing the songs they know and love, fans were also treated to a new song, “Tidal Wave”, from the band’s seventh studio album of the same name.  Tidal Wave is scheduled to be released on September 16 by Hopeless Records.  Adam Lazzara made a point to tell fans that he knows that they want to hear the old stuff, but he has new stuff that’s good too.

The band’s energy overflowed from the stage, filling the audience with feelings of joy and excitement as they sang along to their favorite songs.  Perhaps the most exciting part of Taking Back Sunday’s performance was during their final song, “MakeDamnSure”.  After singing a little more than half of the song, vocalist Adam Lazzara began to climb up the stage scaffolding.  Lazzara then entwined his legs with the scaffolding, and hung upside down, virtually doing “crunches,” while he sang the rest of the song.

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Dashboard Confessional, the only band to return from last year’s Taste of Chaos Festival, took the stage just before 10:00 p.m. and it was the perfect way to close out the Taste of Chaos Festival.  Fans gathered as close to the stage as possible, and sang along with Chris Carrabba to hit after hit.  Dashboard Confessional opened with “Vindicated”, which was made popular by the film Spider-Man 2.  What else could he have played to match the excitement of Adam Lazzara singing “MakeDamnSure” from the scaffolding?  Their set also included “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most” and “Screaming Infidelities”.

In lieu of an encore, Carrabba informed the audience that the next few songs would be their last, and they would serve as the encore.  According to Carrabba, this was done so that they could play more songs instead of wasting time on the side of the stage.  Carrabba then briefly lead the audience in a chant of “Dashboard!”, “Dashboard!”, “Dashboard!” to make the encore more official.  Their final song was “Hands Down”.

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– Martin Shook

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All photos by: Martin Shook

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