Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee stole the show at Sunday's season-closing concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
Paul Wellman

It was a suitably chilly Central Coast night that closed out the 2007 season at the Santa Barbara Bowl. But while those that assembled in the bleachers might not have been properly equipped to handle the enveloping conditions, those on the floor were certainly afforded sufficient reason to be oblivious of them, for what emanated from the stage over the course of the night was a genre-crossing serving of hard-hitting rock. Julien-K embraced the harder edge of electronica, the Sick Puppies touted their post-grunge indie onslaught, and Evanescence took on power pop.

It was Los Angeles-based Julien-K that launched the evening’s proceedings. And with statements like, “You had no fucking idea we were this good, did you?” the band’s self-confidence was just as overstated as its pounding electronic-infused sound. While equally as relentless, the musical approach and the self-awareness of Australia’s Sick Puppies was a little more organic. The band behind the music of the “Free Hug Campaign” video that has all but consumed YouTube, these Puppies have certainly found effective vehicles to carry their music to the greater public. But Internet videos could never quite match the delivery of their live sound. It is unrestrained, raw, and totally scintillating.

Still, it was unquestionably Evanescence that stole the show. With the stage enshrouded in an all-encompassing cloak, a single spotlight shone down upon frontwoman Amy Lee. And as a gentle refrain of piano notes flowed from the stage, hundreds of hands grasping cell phone cameras reached for the heavens, and a chorus of screams filled the amphitheater. For the remainder of the evening, piano and synthesizer beats mixed with driving drums, crunching guitars, and soaring vocals as the ensemble pleased their devoted fans through an offering of their finest tunes.

The unadorned execution of “Good Enough” saw Lee’s bellowing vocals accompanied solely by her own piano playing; the exploding dynamics of the beat-laden “Fall into You” was not only propelled by thrashing rhythms and crunching guitar, but also a flood of light and showering of smoke, crafting a varied and unique atmosphere. The driving nature of each of the night’s acts ensured that the current season of the Bowl was closed out in forthright fashion. And Evanescence fittingly saw that it was done with grace and style.


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