AWOLNATION, New Politics rock Edgefest 2015

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The smell of beer, marijuana, cigarettes, assorted vapors, and body odor hang thick in the air. The sun is brutal. It burns from above and reflects off the plastic, white flooring, cooking the crowd evenly. A man walks between the sunburnt masses spraying them with water.

Space is limited. Sweaty strangers are forced into very intimate positions. Then a guitar screams. A drum kicks and the crowd is taken to a magical place where no one smells, personal space doesn’t matter, beer flows like water (for $9 a pop), and music is the only thing that matters. Man, you gotta love music festivals.

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Photo credit: Ryan Miller

On Saturday, 102.1 the Edge and iHeart Radio held its annual celebration of alternative rock music, Edgefest at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, The Offspring, AWOLNATION, the Kooks, Vance Joy, YelaWolf, Robert Delong, Hozier, Modest Mouse, Dirty Heads, Girl Talk, New Politics, Death Cab for Cutie, Banks, and Joywave made up the line up.

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Photo credit: Ryan Miller

The Kooks started off the party with “Bad Habit” and played their way to their earlier hits from 2006 like “Naive” and “She Moves in Her Own Way.” Luke Pritchard, the bands lead singer, sounded fantastic and was one of the better performers of the day.

This one dude, who we affectionately call Mark from Edgefest, said the Kooks were the most underrated opener of all-time. While that is a bit of a stretch, they were definitely undersold leading up to Saturday, so I have to agree with Mark.

Joywave opened with “Destruction” and lead singer Daniel Armbuster wasn’t satisfied with the crowds engagement.

“Joywave shows are pretty special,” Armbuster told fans. “We will play songs over and over again until we get the reaction we want. That wasn’t good enough. So we’re going to play it again and now you know it. I f***ing love this song!”

The crowd got into it and Joywave had a good set, which ended with current hits “Somebody New” and “Tongues.”

Yelawolf and Dirty Heads join the Kooks as the most undersold groups this year. Yelawolf’s performance of “I wish” is up there with best of the day and got a great response from the crowd.

I was disappointed Dirty Heads didn’t play “Medusa” but “My Sweet Summer,” “Lay Me Down,” and “Dance All Night” flirted with life-changing musical experiences.

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Photo credit: Ryan Miller

I had the pleasure of seeing New Politics at Edgefest in 2014 and thought they were the best show that year. I was surprised to see them on the second stage again, but after their performance I chalked it up to personal choice. Stage two had better bass and fit their set better than there main stage would have.

Once again, New Politics was one of the best performances. The highlight of their set was during “Fall Into These Arms” when David Boyd (lead vocalist) dove into the crowd at the end of the song.

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Photo credit: Ryan Miller

When I went to Edgefest last year, I was shocked Beck was the headliner and not Cage the Elephant. I was equally shocked this year when it was The Offspring and not AWOLNATION.

Don’t get me wrong, I love “Self Esteem” and “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)” and The Offspring absolutely killed it Saturday night.

But AWOLNATION was the best of the day. The use of lights in “Run” was perfect. The bass for “Sail” was exactly as amazing as anything you could have dreamed of (it was on the second stage). And the entire set moved. There was a really good feel about it and each consecutive song made sense within the context of the performance.

When AWOL sang “All I Need,” the entire crowd reached out and held each other – it was a sweaty, stink-filled, beautiful moment. When they finished their set, everyone was sad it was over.

And that is true of the whole festival. You spend about 12 hours with thousands of strangers, singing your hearts out and dancing with unabashed drunken enthusiasm. And when it is over, it leaves you feeling a little empty… and it’s kind of great.

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Photo credit: Ryan Miller
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