On June 14th the SeaPort Marina Hotel in Long Beach, CA was stormed by almost 20 bands including Mest, Left Alone, Clearview and We’re No Gentlemen for this year’s Rock The Arts Festival and the By the Barricade team was there to catch the action. Rock The Arts set up multiple stages like those found at the Vans Warped Tour but on a much smaller scale. Don’t be mistaken, this intimate atmosphere was by far the best and most memorable part of this year’s festival which produced a show unlike any other this writer has ever seen.
Originally slated for Mirror Image Studios, Rock The Arts landed smack dab in the middle of the SeaPort Marina Hotel in Long Beach after a venue change. The disjunctive layout was jarring at first, especially with mismatched time slots and a single list telling fans when and where their favorite bands were scheduled, but after a few minutes the impromptu layout worked wonders for the overall flow of the show.
The fans lucky enough to attend were treated to an experience that few festivals can hope to pull off. With chandeliers nearly scraping the performers heads and a huge window that gave the room tons of natural light provided a very open but small feel. The two stages set up at opposite ends of the second floor ballroom alternated a diverse group of bands and left almost no downtime. Adding the “Rock Room” downstairs and the constant barrage of music from every direction was not only astonishing, but entertaining. The diverse group of rock, punk, and reggae bands kept on playing for over nine hours. Luckily one of the show’s sponsors, West Coast Chill, left the bars stocked with free energy drinks which kept fans dancing and running from stage to stage all day long.
Rock The Arts has been putting fantastic bands on the bill since 2010. One of this year’s standouts was the melodic alt-metal band Clearview, who won the Get Busy Living Fest battle of the bands a few weeks prior. These SoCal rockers later joined female fronted band, We’re No Gentlemen, for a spontaneous and hysterical onstage party.
The Last Gang, a local three piece punk band made quite a an impression on this writer with an awesome old school style set and sound that is similar to The Interrupters. Luckily The Last Gang wasn’t the only Rancidesc band on the bill. When Elvis Cortez isn’t rocking out with The Transplants he’s center stage with Left Alone. The band’s keyboard driven sound kept a definite punk rock edge, and the Rancid style riffs really got the crowd moving. The band even played a track off their upcoming album titled “Leather Bound Book proving” which proved their upcoming releaseis bound to carry the band’s amazing energy and sound. It was a shame that punk rock super group Implants could not play their set due to scheduling conflicts, but both Left Alone and The Last Gang made sure Rock The Arts had more than enough old fashioned punk rock to go around.
Once it was time for energetic and crazy pop punk icons Mest to hit the stage the show took an unexpected turn. Those that anticipated stage dives, mosh pits, and crowd surfers were completely out of luck, but the swinging chandeliers, NOFX style banter filled set, and intimate atmosphere made for one truly unique and amazing set.
Assuming We Survive’s lead singer Adrian Estrella even hopped on stage to rock out with Tony Lovato’s guitar. Tony’s banter between the bands seven classic hits pressedpast the shows end time, but the fun didn’t stop there. As stage hands took away the microphones, Adrian brought each and every fan straight to the stages edge and took the reins directing the screaming fans like a punk rock choir as Tony jumped behind the drum kit during this instrumental version of “Cadillac”
The amazing and fun filled set Mest put on took this great festival over the top and made Rock The Arts an unforgettable experience. Details on next year’s event are sparse, but one things for sure. By the Barricade will be back in the front row ready to see what surprises are in store.
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