Fans of all walks of life packed into San Bernardino’s San Manual Amphitheater last Saturday for the final date on Rockstar’s 2016 Taste of Chaos Tour. For the uninitiated, Taste of Chaos is an internationally recognized brand that garnered huge popularity throughout much of the late 2000’s, making a name for itself with live tours that spanned the globe from Australia to America. With lineups featuring some of the biggest names in emo, hardcore and punk, the festivals quickly gained a reputation as something of an alternative Warped Tour, giving fans across the globe a chance to see acts they’d otherwise never get the chance to experience.
Though the tour called it quits in 2010, Taste of Chaos returned in 2015 for a one-off, sold-out festival date at San Manual featuring genre stalwarts like Thrice and The Used among others. It was a resounding success. One year later, the tour has now grown into a gargantuan, 37-city trek for 2016. The exponential growth speaks volumes to the rekindled interest in the genre, not to mention the prospect for some serious cash money for all parties involved.
Last Saturday was a special date on the tour. Not only did it close out Taste of Chaos for 2016, but it gave organizers the chance to expand the tour into a proper festival, much like the year before. Half a dozen additional acts were added, all keeping in line with the brand’s ambition. The end result was a sweaty, giddy blast through the past celebrating all the music we’re still ashamed to appreciate.
This year’s touring lineup of Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Saosin and The Early November was joined by a variety of acts that ranged from 90’s post-hardcore pioneers Quicksand to pop-punk poster boys The Starting Line. Despite only having one stage for the entire roster of artists, festival organizers virtually eliminated changeover time with a unique lazy Susan-type setup that allowed the stage to rotate 180 degrees between sets, ensuring that a band was primed and ready to rock at all times.
Anytime you get a bunch of has-been bands together for a reunion show or tour, the results can be a bit unpredictable. Fortunately, nearly all of them sounded tight and well-rehearsed, with some bands like Saosin sounding the best they’ve ever had. Featuring its original singer Anthony Green of Circa Survive fame and fresh off the release of its latest studio album Along the Shadows, the post-hardcore outfit hailing from Newport Beach were incredible live, with Green possessing a manic energy onstage that other bands on the festival bill simply couldn’t compete with. Other notable highlights included a fan-favorite set from Taking Back Sunday and a refreshingly gritty performance from founding fathers Quicksand, who gained many new fans on this particular day.
While we’ll argue that charging $5 for a bottle of water is nothing short of appalling and that San Bernardino itself is a bit of a sweaty cesspool, the 2016 edition of Taste of Chaos was an undisputed success. You may not dig all the bands — and here’s looking at you Dashboard Confessional — but for fans of the genre, it’s tough to beat the total package that Taste of Chaos puts together. Here’s looking forward to 2017.