Concert Reviews

Edgefest Didn't Fill Toyota Stadium, But It Delivered the Alt-Rock Nostalgia It Promised

With Cage the Elephant, the 1975 and more
Toyota Stadium, Frisco
Saturday, April 30, 2016

Good Charlotte didn't headline 102.1 FM The Edge's annual Edgefest at Toyota Stadium on Saturday, but they did say what everyone was thinking. The station's marquee event, taking place for this 26th time over the weekend, continued its march towards a purely alt-rock and pop-punk set-up and Good Charlotte's front man Joel Madden summed it up perfectly when he yelled, “We’re gonna’ take this thing back to 2003, OK?”

Cage the Elephant headlined this year's event in Frisco. The 1975 played second-to-last billing. Good Charlotte – back after a five-year hiatus to gleefully remind millennials everywhere of their middle school selves – took the final slot on stage two. Also around were Bastille, CHVRCHES, Silversun Pickups, Foals, Blue October, the Struts and the Joy Formidable, among others.
But we must start with Good Charlotte and its heavily tattooed lead, Madden. Since taking a step back from GC, Madden has been doing things with his brother and Good Charlotte co-founder, Benji. Those things have been a little less punk and a lot less successful. Back in action as the mid-2000s pop-punksters, you wondered how the band would present itself on stage. And you wondered what their reception would be in front of a crowd that was in considerable part comprised of fans young enough to have come of music fandom age after the Madden’s and their guys entered public consciousness.

That, it turned out, didn’t matter. The back-to-2003 intro was for “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous” (actually released in 2002, but who’s keeping track). Maybe the young ones had gone to the seats, or maybe they embraced the raucous nostalgia for raucous nostalgia’s sake, or maybe they were just drowned out. Whatever the case, Good Charlotte stayed in its lane and delivered what – all things considered, including a depleted end-of-night crowd at Cage – was probably the festival’s liveliest set. They played while the sun set, and then they started throwing four big flood lights out onto the crowd, a fitting deflection of self-indulgence. No joke: 2016 Good Charlotte was lit.
Then came the 1975, back on the main stage, using these giant glowing rectangles and their electro-pop-punk-who-knows-what style to play with lighting and everyone’s emotions. They played “A Change of Heart” while lit up in green and pink, and you felt the mood of the stadium settling a little. The 1975’s performance felt like a nightcap, the sort of mood you’d shoot for if you were throwing on tunes in your living room after a night out.

Which, of course, challenged the task in front of Cage the Elephant that much more. Headlining a daylong music fest is difficult enough as it is. Fans get tired, drunk, dead.

But Cage’s Matthew Shultz came on stage and rocked his FitBit dysfunctional. (If he was wearing one, that is.) You ever sing a concert during your cardio? Shultz was everywhere. He was far stage left, and then he was far stage right, settling into the darker crevices, singing out to the front row. And then he was run-skipping back across to center. And in the scrum, the people were coming back. The 1975 had lulled the festival into an electro-daze; Cage found their pulse.
And so it was that an up-and-down day ended on one of its highest of notes. The band played their first few songs, and then Shultz acknowledged the energy, saying simply: “Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here. We are Cage the Elephant. Shall we continue?” The performance was big, and Shultz’s polite exercise in humility was fittingly small, a downplay of himself in favor of the performance.

The seats had at this point thinned out considerably, but all day they never scared capacity, which was a double-edged sword. Any angle to the stage you wanted was yours, but you weren’t going to find much energy in the seats. The place, in general, feels a little too big for the crowd – which is one side effect of the two-stage approach, where each goal line of FC Dallas’ stadium contains a stage. It traps in space and plays with the aesthetics of the venue, and not necessarily in a positive way.

The bands, engaging as they were, made that less of an issue. Edgefest has been around for 26 renditions now; many of its attendees know what to expect. This year, the fest landed one of its better lineups, and the roster produced.
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