If the first rule of punk rock is to never trust anybody over 30, the kids at Bamboozle Left on Saturday should have been awfully suspicious of the main stages. The weekend-long blowout at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine of more than 100 bands plying every permutation of pop punk was striking not for any rising stars or inventive updates of a vintage (well, vintage '90s) sound. Instead, the day felt like a victory lap for grizzly forefathers such as Face to Face, Alkaline Trio and the Bouncing Souls cq all three .
Pop punk is fundamentally about distilling music to its essences of speed, energy and hooks. The assembly lines at Victory and Fueled by Ramen records churn out screamy bands whose names combine seasons, girls' names and objects on fire. Maybe the kids are looking backward because so few contemporaries are looking forward.
The early sets of Bamboozle had the charmingly distracted air of a high school homecoming game, where the onstage action was less important than flaunting T-shirts lauding obscure members of My Chemical Romance.
The Starting Line's Kenny Vasoli touted his band's first tour with the grooving, spy movie-inspired Rx Bandits, who played after them, as "my best memory of the road," setting the tone for homages to the old dudes (and aside from Paramore and Automatic Love Letter, Bamboozle's stages were nearly exclusively dudes).