WSTR brought their British take on power pop to sunny California and played an opening set that really amplified the energy in the spacious venue. Vocalist Sammy Clifford led the crowd through fist-pumping anthems of individuality and non-conformity. Sammy held their values of lifting each other up very literally when he actually leapt from the stage to catch a girl who was crowdsurfing from falling over the barricade. The audience seemed to like their genuine, no-nonsense approach to having a good time.
Hot Mulligan played the other side of the punk spectrum with more raw vocal delivery and slamming breakdowns between intricate finger-tapped riffs. The gorgeous harmonies between lead singers Tades Sanville and Chris Freeman weave their way through every song about lost love and bittersweet nostalgia; the inspiration from Taking Back Sunday’s early work is evident without being derivative. Hot Mulligan will be releasing “You’ll Be Fine” on March 6th, 2020 and it’s sure to be full of personal but relatable stories written into passionate shouts and catchy hooks all over some sweet sweet twinkle melodies.
Grayscale splits the difference with pop punk that was hard enough to have the audience thrashing but polished enough for everyone to sing the choruses. They’re the headliner for a reason- their production design and stage presence were that of scene veterans even though they’ve only been releasing music since 2015. Hot off the release of “Nella Vita” in September of 2019, Grayscale was fully ready to present their newer sound to their audience. On it they decided to experiment a little and diversify their catalogue- from ballads that had the crowd slow-dancing to songs that had them in a circle pit. They’ll be returning to the road in 2020 with Four Year Strong.
Words and photos by Brandon Phipps