SoCal punk legends Face To Face hit the Observatory OC with a trifecta of shows between December 26th and 28th. The first annual Triple Crown boasted three unique nights with albums Don’t Turn Away, Big Choice, and Self Titled being played from front to back. Each night had an overwhelming amount of energy and included unique twists like deep cuts and rare treats for old school fans.
An hour and a half after doors the three openers brought their own style and flair to the stage along with their own set of dedicated fans. Pulley quickly kicked off the first show in front of the biggest opening crowd this writer has seen in a long time. Almost immediately after Scott Radinsky grabbed the mic circle pits sprung up in full force.
Guttermouth opened night two of the trifecta and had even more crowd engagement. As Mark Adkins ran around the stage and jumping on monitors he playfully argued with fans. Although Guttermouth’s songs are short Mark threw around plenty of witty banter to get the crowd riled up. As the fast-paced sounds and comedic lyrics of songs like “Marco-Polo” and “Perfect World” filled the amphitheater fans started hurling shoes, hats, and cups of beer at the stage. As Mark tried on the newly found articles of clothing during the 45 minute set.
On the third night of the Triple Crown, the Observatory OC seemed significantly emptier during Unwritten Law’s opening set. Apart from a few dozen headbangers and dancing girls the crowd stood almost completely still. Lead singer Scott Russo held the mic out to give fans a chance to sing, but Bad Religion got more of a response as house music played between bands. Unwritten Law’s style seemed much slower than their predecessors. Luckily they picked up the pace at the end of their set which finally got the circle pits spinning.
The long wait paid off. Once it was time for Face to Face to hit the stage they started with a bang! By the time the band blew through the tracklist off Don’t Turn Away they’d already hit fan favorites like “Disconnected”, “You’ve Done Nothing”, and “No Authority” with the addition of songs they rarely play live. Once Face to Face hit the final track “1,000 X” fans were begging for more. Trever and the gang premiered “Merry Christmas” as a special holiday treat and played “Not Enough”, “I Used To Think” and “Dissension” before leaving the stage. The energy of the room continued at an all-time high when the band returned to encore with “Walk the Walk” and “It’s Not Over” for those who weren’t attending all three trifecta dates.
Don’t Turn Away may have been one of Face To Face’s most popular albums, but what better way to follow it up than with Big Choice? Along with New and additional side lightening on either side of the stage, the band had some exciting tricks up their sleeve. As they neared the end of Big Choice Face To Face Invited original bassist Matt Riddle onstage for “Debt” and “Late”. Hearing their cover of “Bikeage”, (originally Decendents) was also great live. During the final track of the night “You’ve Done Nothing” Trever Keith handed his guitar to Scott Shiflett, Scott handed his bass to Matt, and Trever picked up the mic. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
It’s hard to top Matt’s short reconnection with the band, but it was obvious that Face To Face fans were still eager for more. Some of the highlights of the Self Titled playthrough came from fan favorites “Blind”, “Walk the Walk”, and “Ordinary”. Face To Face was also the first album Trever, Scott, and Chad Yaro recorded together. Although night three belonged to the Self Titled This writer’s favorite moment was when fans screamed an entire verse from Disconnected back at the band leaving them in shock.
Overall the trifecta pass provides a great three-day experience for fans of Face To Face, but changing up the banter between songs and picking a different set of extra songs after the albums finished before the encores would have made it even better. This may be nitpicking, but since the show was advertised as three different albums with three different openers it would have been nice to treat repeat attenders with a few new tracks. That being said, this writer is already excited to see what the band plans on doing for the second annual Triple Crown and recommends attending to old and new fans alike. If you did miss these shows, the Face To Face: Fans & Collectors Connection group on Facebook has tons of fan captured photos and videos from all three nights. One thing’s for sure, By the Barricade will be headed back to the OC Observatory and you should too.