BFD Music Fest Hits and Misses

Twelve Hours of Non-Stop Live Music at Bay Area’s Day-Long Event

Modest Mouse at Live105’s BFD festival.

If you’re reminiscing over the Warped Tours and Projekt Revolutions of days past, then you’re likely a fan of sunkissed summer concerts; running from stage to stage to see your favorite two (or 20) bands; and high-energy sets from up and coming musicians who can competently work a crowd of 30 or 3,000 – in other words, BFD. This year’s sold-out show drew 24,000 fans to the Bay Area’s Shoreline Amphitheatre Saturday, June 6, with the promise of five stages, 40 performers, and 12 non-stop hours of live music for under $50.

Alternative electro-pop duo Twenty One Pilots played the Festival Stage at 5 p.m., eliciting the biggest crowd reaction of any band to perform at this year’s event. Twenty One Pilots played songs off all of their records (though perhaps one too many off last month’s release, Blurryface), and performed with zeal: singing and drumming on wooden platforms supported only by the crowd, running around the audience to perform behind them, and encouraging fans to jump, sing, and dance just as much as the band did themselves. Shortly after the band’s set ended, EDM superstar Robert DeLong performed a few yards away in the Subsonic Tent, where boys and girls in shorts and face paint danced the day away to thumping electronic beats.

While Twenty One Pilots and Robert DeLong also delivered incredible sets, my favorite act of the day was hands-down Panic! At the Disco at the Main Stage. Vocalist Brendon Urie not only performed fan-favorites from all four of Panic’s albums, but he threw in some back-flips and a staggeringly powerful rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which really set the crowd on fire. Few and far between are the singers who can successfully perform the iconic song, and Urie nailed it. The crowd screamed along wildly to every heartfelt tune, and the band did not let a single one fall flat. I would pay a lot more than $50 to see Panic! At the Disco do that again.

Around 10 p.m., headliners Modest Mouse took the stage. The last time I saw Modest Mouse, their performance was as vigorous as it was professional. This one, however, was pretty dismal. From the very first song, “The World At Large,” singer-guitarist Isaac Brock’s half-hearted vocals were barely audible over the guitars. Immediately after concluding that tune, the band paused the show to soundcheck again with all the lights on and no apology or explanation from the band, the soundboard, or LIVE 105, which hosted the event.

My hope is that Modest Mouse only seemed unanimated because if they moved a fraction of an inch or sang any louder, they would set off a deafening feedback screech–again. After performing their hit “Dashboard” with only slightly fewer technical difficulties (only three songs into the headlining act’s set) the lights went out as the band once again loudly soundchecked. Behind me, I could hear a series of “boos” and a drunken yell demanding that the band “quit fucking around.” This time it took 10 minutes to soundcheck, so the band had already lost a good 15 minutes of their one hour and 15 minute set–and about half the audience, who gave up and went home.


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