In a time where music festivals seem to be happening just about everywhere every weekend, Dave Grohl set out to do something a little different.
After appearing alone one stage under spotlights, Grohl explained how CalJam came to be.
With the new album “Concrete and Gold” in the works, thoughts of a record release party turned into something much bigger and much louder. He wanted a huge party for the fans where he would get to play with his friends and just hang out. It turned out to be a memorable night for everyone involved and the latest musical success in his legendary career.
The festival took place at the Glen Helen Amphitheater and took full advantage of the space, campgrounds next door and the open field directly next to the amphitheater.
Those who purchased camping passes were allowed to set up Friday and were able to take part in some activities and a few early shows that night.
The field next to the amphitheater was used for 2 smaller stages that were used throughout the day as well as the Foo Fighters Rock and Roll
There were also carnival rides spread out through the festival grounds including a ferris wheel, the usual mix of food stands and vendors, and a group of wacky inflatable tube men dancing away in the scorching heat.
Those that arrived early and braved temperatures in the high 90’s were rewarded with great sets from a solid line up.
On the main stage The Struts put on an energetic set led by the sequined lead singer. He
captivated the early audience and had them following along with anything he requested. By the end of the set, they were moving more than the fringe on his pants.
Following them up were Royal Blood, a 2-piece band from the UK and though only 2 people, they were definitely not lacking for sound as their front man made the bass sound as nasty as his Janet Jackson t-shirt.
Liam Gallagher was up next on the CalJam stage. Though he played his own material, Gallagher included a couple of Oasis songs in the set such as Wonderwall and Morning Glory, all done with the confident rock star attitude he’s known for.
With the sun finally done beating everyone down for the day, Cage the Elephant took over the stage. They started with a cover of Tom Petty’s Mary Janes Last Dance, in tribute to the legendary artist who passed away just days earlier, before launching into their own music. Singer Matt Shultz moved around the stage as he belted out the vocals, all while basically in his underwear.
The set lit up the audience as much as the pyrotechnics and filled up the pit area for the first time of the night.
Had the night ended here, many could have still gone home happy, but there were still the 2 huge bands to go.
Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age will be heading to South America later this year, so this was a nice preview of what should be an awesome tour.
Queens of the Stone Age took the stage with little on stage other than a few tall lights spread around in between them. Josh Homme came ready to make the crowd move and after a few older songs, new materiel from Villains definitely got the crowd going.
The most memorable moment during the set was when Homme asked to have all the lights on so he can see all of the massive crowd.
He spotted sign in the audience and asked for it to be passed up. The sign had Vegas Strong on one side and the names of all the victims from the tragic shooting that happened days before.
The sign was left on stage for the rest of the frantic performance that ranged from the recent single, “The Way You Used to Do” to “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” and “A Song for the Dead.”
Finally, it was time for the Foo Fighters to take the stage.
Grohl took the stage alone and talked to the audience before going into Times Like These with the rest of the band joining in part way through. The song choice seemed very appropriate considering the events of the weekend before.
They immediately went into other favorites All My Life, Learn to Fly, and The Pretender before heading into the latest release.
The Sky is a Neighborhood sounded even better live, and the next song brought out the first guests of the night.
Dave Koz played the sax and Alison Mosshart of The Kills helped on vocals for La Dee Da. Other guests for the night included Greg Kursten on keyboard for Sunday Rain, Inara George on Dirty Water, Rick Astley for the mash-up of Never Gonna Give You Up/Smells Like Teen Spirit that you’ve no doubt seen online already, and Joe Perry joining in for a cover of Aerosmith’s Draw the Line.
For the finale, they brought back Kursten, Perry, and Liam Gallagher to cover Come Together by the Beatles. To close out the night, the band played Everlong.
Hopefully we’ll only have to wait a year to find out as Grohl teased CalJam as a yearly event. If you weren’t able to make it this time around, be sure not to pass up the chance next year.
Review by Mauricio Gonzalez
Photos by Debi Del Grande
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