COVERAGE BY: TOBY HUGHES
One of the most anticipated festivals of the Summer took place this past weekend on September 9th in San Bernardino, CA. High and Low Festival drew thousands of fans in for big name artists such as Death Cab For Cutie, PUP, Tegan and Sarah and Citizen, but the main attraction that made everyone’s mouths drop and wallets open was Brand New. Music and comedy were combined to create a day that one only had to witness with their own eyes and hear with their own ears to believe was possible.
The day started out a bit slow and quiet. Most fans that were there for the early day sets chose to only stick around for a few songs before wandering off to check out the full grounds amenities. Elder Brother opened up the day first on the side stage that was set up inside an airplane hangar. Bands such as Charly Bliss, PUP, Cloud Nothings and Now, Now set up camp on this stage for their sets. At some point throughout the day, this particular stage became delayed in time by almost thirty minutes which caused a time overlap between them and the main stage leaving fans literally running from one to the other to catch all of their favorite artists. Citizen was my must see band for the side stage. With a new album coming early next month, I was eager to hear some of the new music that everyone has been talking about. They started their set with one of their newest singles “Jet,” and it is even more impressive live.
In between sets, if one could find time, attendees could take a minute and listen in on some live comedy sets going on in an air conditioned building on the grounds presented by The Hard Times. Like any comedy set there was a host for each comedy group, a few openers and a headliner. I found a quick minute to pop in and hear a few lines from comedian Mike Lawrence. I’m familiar with his name as he is known for being on Comedy Central’s Roast Battle and he’s definitely a personality to see. The days remaining headliner acts came from Kurt Braunohler (The K Ohle with Kurt Braunohler - Nerdist Network), Cameron Esposito (Standup Comic) and Guy Branum (X-Play, Chelsea Lately).
The main stage was full a good majority of the day and this was because of the people who showed up early to secure their prime real estate spot for when Brand New took the stage at 10:00. Coming onto the stage third, Bad Suns seemed to be the band that got that crowd really going and geared up for the day but it was renowned artist Andrew McMahon that really had fans screaming at the top of their lungs in the heat. Riding through the crowd on his famous blown up "rubber ducky" and jumping on top of his piano, McMahon stole everyone’s hearts. Pulling past music from his catalogue from his previous bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, the now solo artist had attendees screaming out the lyrics to favorites such as “Dark Blue” and “I Woke Up In A Car.” Death Cab For Cutie was also one of those big names that made people look past the ticket price just to see them in person. A band that has been around for 20 years still hold true to their distinctive sound and unique style.
With all the talent shared on this day, nobody could really fully prepare themselves for what was to come with Brand New. After randomly and surprisingly releasing their first album in 8 years last month, “Science Fiction” has already been placed as best album of the year and there are still three months remaining in 2017. This night was the first night that Brand New has ever performed any of the new tracks from “Science Fiction.” Playing in a cage like tomb, the band took the stage with the debut of “Lit Me Up.” Fans were actually crying along the barricade hearing this beautifully articulate song in person. A ninety minute set filled with 16 tracks (7 new in total) was just enough to keep fans happy, until the cherry on top arrived during Jesse Lacey’s solo acoustic encore performance of my all time favorite, “Soco Amaretto Lime.”
This was the first year for High and Low Festival and although there were the few minor stage times that caused a few setbacks, all in all it was a success, especially with a lineup like this. Regardless if the festival becomes an annual thing or not, no line up after this year’s can be topped. Not so much with the fact that Brand New was the headliner but the fact that the timing of the band playing this festival is what makes it memorable. The fans in attendance got to be the first listeners to live debuts from an album that had one of the fastest rises to the #1 chart spot. The weather was warm, the atmosphere was friendly and the music was everything I had hoped for.