Inland Invasion 3
The Cure, Duran Duran, Hot Hot Heat, Echo and the Bunnymen, Violent Femmes, Psychedelic Furs, Interpol, Marc Almond of Soft Cell, Fountains of Wayne, Berlin, Kings of Leon, and Dramarama
Hyundai Pavilion, San Bernardino, CA
September 20, 2003
The Hyundai (formerly Blockbuster) Pavilion is the probably the worst place to see a concert.... unless you're in the first ten rows. If you're in the lawn (like most people) then just forget about it. You might as well be watching it on TV because you're going to be spending the whole day staring at the jumbo-screens. Today's lineup is pretty impressive and it's the first time that I ever heard of the "nation's largest amphitheater" selling out.
Dramarama was the first band that I caught on the side stage and there was a pretty big crowd because nothing else was scheduled on the main stage. I don't know if Dramarama is an "LA" thing because when they played "Anything Anything" everyone was singing it word for word. The odd thing is that there were seven(!!) people on stage at one point and that just seemed like three too many. The show was pretty boring despite Chris Carter, the lead singer, jumping into the crowd which always gets you points in my book!
Kings of Leon was next. I decided to see these guys instead of General Public in order to see as many new bands as possible. Their picture in the free program made them look like 1970's Black Sabbath. I've heard their album and thought it was just "okay", but I enjoyed their live set. They rocked just a little more live then on record. They played right after Dramarama on the second stage to only about a quarter of the people.
Fountains on Wayne went on early. When has that EVER happened?!?! They were supposed to go on at 4pm but started around 3:50. This was the first band that was on main stage and I was totally blown away at the amount of people. The capacity is 65,000 and the bulk of the crowd was in the lawn. We climbed up to the back of the venue to buy some water and from that far away the vocals are actually out of sync with the screens because light travels faster then sound. YES, it's just like how you see the lightning a second before hearing the thunder. That's how freakin' far away we were standing!!! Luckily you can also cruise up to the front of the lawn area. By the middle their set we were sitting about twenty feet from the barrier and the audio was now back in sync with the video screens. Songs that I knew: "Mexican Wine", "No Better Place", "Bright Future in Sales", "Stacey's Mom" and "Red Dragon Tattoo". I thought they were fantastic but when they were leaving it seemed like no one really cared. That's the weird thing about a venue that size. Unless everyone is making noise you don't really hear anything. All the Fountains of Wayne fans were too scattered to make an impression.
Marc Almond came out and just like Dramarama, I'm only familiar with like one or two songs. He had a real simple setup with just a guitar player and a guy on keyboards. Everyone, inluding me, seemed pretty board by his set until he threw down "Tainted Love" and left.
Interpol were great. I really like their album and it was nice to hear it live. Granted, they have a very boring show, but I still enjoyed it. Their set included "Untitled", "Say Hello to Angels", "Roland", "Stella Was A Diver and She Was Always Down", "Obstacle 1" and "PDA".
After the long forty-five second break (gotta love that rotating stage!), Psychedelic Furs came out with "Love My Ways" which got everyone on their feet. Richard Butler happily went through the entire set with a big smile on his face. He tripped over a step during "The Ghost In You", fell flat on his back and finished out the verse on the floor before getting up. The only other song that I knew for sure was "Pretty In Pink".
Violent Femmes opened up with "American Music". This might be another "LA" thing because everyone was on their feet singing along to pretty much every song. They rolled through "Blister in the Sun", "Add It Up" and a few others. The crowd totally ate it up, probably because KROQ drilled these songs in our head back in the day. While they could play for 65,000 people and have them all on their feet, the Femme's can't sell out a 1,000 seat club on their own anymore.
I couldn't believe who came out next. Before all these bands were KROQ DJ's doing the introductions and they actually rolled out Rodney on the ROQ to do the intro for Echo and the Bunnymen. I can't believe he's still around doing the same radio show on KROQ. At least back in the day some of the stuff that he would break folded into normal KROQ airplay (He was the first in LA to play Stone Roses, Oasis, Ride, Duran Duran among others). I doubt any of the music on his show is breaking into the nu-metal genre. Anyway, Echo and the Bunnymen started with "Lips Like Sugar" and Ian McCulloch's voice is absolutely stunning. They also played "Rescue", "Back of Love" and "Over the Wall". Ian introduced "Killing Moon" as "the greatest song of all time". They finished with the "Cutter". Despite all these great songs, they suffered from the same problem as Interpol. They make great music but the live performance was just dull.
I have no idea what Hot Hot Heat were doing there. All the other new bands appealed to an older crowd , but these guys just out of place. If they had to be anywhere on the bill, I would thought the side stage right after Jet around 2:30pm or so. But THIRD on the bill? When everyone who's coming is probably in the amphitheater by now and just waiting for Duran Duran and The Cure. The only way I could explain it is that Hot Hot Heat's label must've gave KROQ a dumpload of cash to allow them to play in front of 65,000 people. That's the only way it makes sense to me. Oh, they sucked by the way.
Since Hot Hot Heat only played a thirty minute set, there weren't the normal 45 second gap between bands. Duran Duran took the stage after about 25 minutes and opened with a classic, "Friends of Mine". The entire setlist:
- Friends of Mine
- Hungry Like the Wolf
- Planet Earth
- Come Undone
- What Happens Tomorrow
- Ordinary World
- Save A Prayer
- Wild Boys
- Careless Memories
- Girls on Film (encore)
I've been a Duran Duran fan since I was a kid so this was pretty exciting. When they played "Planet Earth" we finally got some visuals on the screens instead of just the bad camera work. Their new song, "What Happens Tomorrow" is okay, I think everyone was pretty happy that it didn't suck as bad as anything they've done post-Wedding Album. Hands down the best song of the night was "Carless Memories". The visuals were shots from all the old videos. It brough back a lot of memories if like me you have an older sister that made you watch the videos a billion times while growing up. The only downer is that with all the material that they have they're still playing almost the exact same set every night on their tour. So I'd seen them perform all these songs just a few months ago when they played their own gig in Costa Mesa.
Up next was The Cure and I'm going to include Jason's notes instead of mine as they are more complete:
It was 9:45 pm by this time and Jed the Fish (of KROQ radio) came out to introduce the Cure and said they'd be coming out in...25 minutes. WTF? We'd gotten spoiled by the quick turnaround on bands.
However, at 10pm the lights went out, and the Cure opened with... "10:15 Saturday Night"!? Wow.. I knew something was up. I thought, "OK, let's hope they read the crowd because Duran Duran pretty much got them pumped up." Next up was "A Forest" - another shocker to be so early in the set.
Followed by.. "Primary" (first I've heard that since 1996)?
Ok, I'm seeing a pattern. They're either doing 1) singles in order or 2) songs from each album in order. Robert acknowledged my second thought - they're playing some songs from each album in chronological order.
From Pornography, they jumped into "100 Years", much to the crowd's dismay. They were certainly expecting it to be an all singles night, or at least for god's sake play something we know!
The 7+ minute song then slowed down to "The Figurehead", and the crowd's hopes sank lower as the hardcore fans like myself sang along to "I'm a vision of hell, I laughed in the mirror for the first time in a year." Ok, I thought, they have to bring it up with "Let's Go to Bed", from 1983's Japanese Whispers (as that was for sure the next album). But no, Robert launches into "A Strange Day" from Pornography, as I hear groans and moans from the crowd that was growing listless.
I noticed some people were starting to leave.
But then - "Let's Go to Bed"! Yay! A single some people knew and a few stood up and danced around!
Would he keep up the pace with "The Walk", also from the album? NO!
Certainly he wouldn't choose "The Caterpillar" from 1984's album The Top, because THEY NEVER PLAY IT. So, as I thought, he jumps right into "Shake Dog Shake," with lyrics like "As stale and selfish as a sick dog, spurning sex like an animal of God" to REALLY get the crowd, um, scared, I believe.
More people leaving...
"Back to pop now," as they jump into "Inbetween Days". And OH MY GOD - "Just Like Heaven", and they all stood up and danced around like fools. Hooray! They're thinking, "The song I wanted to hear was played!"
But wait - "'Pictures of You'! I'm sticking around for this one as well!"
An excellent "Pictures of You", I might add. The sound mix for the Cure's set was excellent, although a bit distorted. Robert's voice was at the front of the mix, and you could hear the lyrics quite clearly.
"Fascination Street" followed, and a few more people were trickling out. We glanced right and the long lines to get out were growing.
"Sticking with Disintegration, this one's called 'Lovesong'" - and they were on their feet again!
Followed by.. "High"? or "Friday I'm in Love"? NO! "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea," the 7+ minute masterpiece that had more people leaving. :(
Next album would be Wild Mood Swings, and the excellent "Want," which I hadn't heard since 1996.
More people leaving now, as some might have been expecting "The 13th" or "Mint Car". Um, nope.
And finally jumping into the last 3 of the set from Bloodflowers, "Maybe Someday" got a couple people that were still here on their feet, followed by "39", my least favorite Cure song on Bloodflowers. And finally, the song "Bloodflowers".
First encore was "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep", following by a crushing "The Kiss". The screaching, wailing guitar of "The Kiss" was too much for some - I looked around and tons more people were heading to the parking lot.
"Plainsong" and "Disintegration" were the next encore, and we left when Disintegration started because 1) I've heard it a dozen times and 2) it was 11:55 and time to G.O.! Turns out they played "Boys Don't Cry" as well for the 3rd encore, which I've heard a dozen times as well - no loss there.
So there you have it. I hate to say that it was such a dry evening because the lineup is stellar, but it was. I simply just wasn't moved by anyone's performance.