By Ramon Gonzales
For the 12th installment of Jack’s self-titled shindig, an eclectic roster of artists helped christen Irvine’s FivePoint Amphitheater with full day of performances that felt more like a party. Indulging a bit of nostalgia while asserting continued relevance, all of the bands on the bill have decades in the game, while having yet to show any signs of slowing. It’s rare that a show runs the duration without a lull, but Jack’s 12th managed to keep a pace that will prove difficult to follow this time next year.
Tasked with the toughest job of the evening, the original line up of Eve 6 needed little time to kickstart the festivities. Showcasing the kind of charisma befitting a proper frontman, Max Collins introduced selections like “Open Road Song” by painting a a vivid picture of a long car ride in a 1982 Pontiac station wagon. Performing their ballad, “Here’s To the Night,” Collins would explain that the selection was the band’s love letter to their fans adding, “it’s because of you that we can continue to do the only thing we know how.” Capping their stage time, the band’s most recognizable tune, “Inside Out,” functioned as the first highlight of the evening. The fans from the pit to the stands made their voices heard as Collins detailed putting a tender heart in a blender, sending everyone at FivePoint spinning into a beautiful oblivion.
Lit skipped formalities and began their performance with an earnest tribute to Tom Petty, a move that immediately won over the entire footprint. Nailing a proper rendition of “American Girl,” the bittersweet moment resonated with an entire amphitheater of fans eager to singalong to the rock n roll standard. Tugging at the heartstrings again, the band broke out the acoustic guitars to perform their latest single, “Fast,” a tender ballad detailing how quickly life tends to pass us by. Tactfully poignant, frontman Ajay Popoff segued from the song to acknowledge the recent tragic events of Las Vegas. While confiding that it would be impossible to forget the tragedy, Popoff also added it was encouraging to see so many people come together to share live music. Sealing their set with the hits, “Miserable” and “My Own Worst Enemy,” the gang from Fullerton flexed a real command of the crowd.
Gin Blossom’s Robin Wilson came equipped with a tambourine, a harmonica, and a sense of humor as the band took FivePoint into the evening hours. Delivering a wise crack between songs, Wilson admired the size of the crowd and quipped, “this is a lot bigger the casinos we have been playing.” The playful banter complimented a set from the Blossoms that included fan favorites like “Follow You Down,” “Til I Hear It From You,” and powerful punctuation with, “Hey Jealousy.” The singles were among some of the most effective selections of the night.
Skipping the obvious stoner puns, Cypress Hill thrived as the only hip-hop act on the bill. What could’ve been a curveball on the evening functioned as a direct hit as B Real and Sen Dogg pummeled the fans with a succession hits. In a set that included a handful of highlights, the duo began their classic, “How I Could Just Kill A Man,” with a snippet of Black Sheep’s “The Choice Is Yours” only to end the same song with the Rage Against The Machine version from the Renegades album. The seamless, fluid transition between rock and hip-hop was again evident when CH got particularly loud with the single, “(Rock) Superstar.” Inciting a whole amphitheater to jump in unison, the tandem’s biggest coup came when the first bars of “Insane In the Brain” blared from the stage, sending the fans into an uninhibited frenzy.
Controlling the swell of momentum, The Offspring took the stage and immediately went for the jugular. Opening with essentials including “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” and “All I Want” circles began whipping around near the front of the stage. The spectacle of a little slam dancing aside, the band reiterated their penchant for songwriting as selections like “The Kids Aren’t Alright” and an especially poignant rendition of “Gone Away” further substantiated the band’s relevance and longevity. Adding a little levity, the Dexter and Noodles continued to crack jokes with the fans, even asserting that, “there are going to be some babies made here tonight!” The playful banter reaffirmed the band’s ability to be equally endearing and entertaining. Sealing their set with one of the most significant highlights of the day, “Bad Habit” is the kind of tune that no one could ever get tired of seeing live. Watching 12,000 fans sing expletives fueled by road rage proved to be a glorious sight.
Providing an emphatic punctuation on the night, 311 could not have missed if they tried. Armed with a set of songs that span the band’s 20-plus years in the spotlight, classics like “Down” and “Don’t Stay Home” were just as effective as the band’s newest additions in “’Til The City’s On Fire” and “Too Much to Think.” As is the tradition, crew would break and allow drummer Chad Sexton to steal some shine. Tearing into his drum solo, the fans at FivePoint were left mesmerized by Sexton’s dexterity. The band would reemerge behind their own drums for a percussion interlude that worked to rally the energy into the late night portion of the evening. While feel good jams like “Amber” and the homage to Robert Smith and The Cure in “Lovesong” proved winners, 311 would finish strong as “Creatures (For A While)” served as a fitting ceremonial culmination to another Jack FM rager in Irvine.
It might be way too early but we are already looking forward to lucky number 13.