I’ve only been in Los Angeles for a short period of time and it’s not taken me long to realize that the promotors and venues in the area know how to throw an event. The latest event, Chain Fest, did not disappoint. Put on by two well-known and longstanding venues in the scene to celebrate their 20th year in business. The festival kicked off around noon and finished out the night on the main outdoor stage with an impressive trifecta of headlining bands: Underoath, Circa Survive, and Coheed and Cambria. While the main stage held the grand majority’s attention all day long, the indoor stage at the Observatory still hosted packed crowds all day long. Some acts even managed to draw enough people to run a huge line out of the door of the 550-cap venue!
The bands residing on the main stage all had admirable crowds to play for. Despite the heat, tons of fans crowded around for acts including Turnover, The Story So Far, and Title Fight. Personally, the first main stage act I attended was Dance Gavin Dance. The full lineup performed with Andrew Wells of Eidola on second guitar. The set flowed extremely well after they kicked it off with “Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise.” Despite having a set of crutches and large brace on his leg, Tilian kept up with the rest of the band, matching the crazy riffs with a soaring vocal performance. While understandably favoring Tilian-era jams, the band was clearly not limiting themselves to playing songs from newer albums exclusively. The band finished strong with a performance of “We Own the Night.” Eventually, the sun began to set during Portugal. the Man’s set and the throngs of people still there for the day began to rush to the main stage. At this point, the festival really took off.
Underoath took the stage shortly after and delivered a strong performance spanning albums from They’re Only Chasing Safety to Lost In the Sound of Separation. The crowd was not disappointed. Vocalist Spencer Chamberlain quickly put to rest any thoughts that UO’s return would be short-lived; only a couple songs into the set, he began listing off the band’s plans for the future to the eager faces watching the set. The crowd screamed and sang along to favorites like “A Boy Brushed Red…” and “It’s Dangerous Business…” throughout the band’s hour-long set; as time ran out for the revered post-hardcore act, the set was closed out with Define the Great Line single, “Writing on the Walls.”
Circa Survive arguably had one of the best crowds of the entire day. As the band launched into their set with “Child of the Desert,” the powerful, odd-metered single from Descensus, fans in attendance went crazy. From that point forward, the band covered all their bases by playing songs from nearly every release. Frontman Anthony Green remarked (multiple times) that the crowd reminded him of all the times CS had performed at Chain Reaction in the past. As the set came to a close, the band ended with “Act Appalled.” Circa’s crowd energy was unmatched by any other band that played that day.
Despite a large walkout by crowdgoers following the Circa Survive set, headliner Coheed and Cambria still brought out a strong show to the huge mass that stuck around for the end. It only took a couple songs for frontman Claudio Sanchez to let down his insane mass of hair as the energetic set kicked off. To everyone’s surprise, C&C’s set was not strictly limited to their latest release, The Color Before the Sun. It was in fact heavy on the band’s classics such as “A Favor House Atlantic” and “Blood Red Summer.” To no surprise, the headliner’s set was brought to a close as Sanchez pulled out his Gibson EDS-1275 double-neck guitar and began to pick out the familiar intro to “Welcome Home.” As the last notes of the song’s dueling guitar solos rang out, the band cut off the song abruptly and headed off stage.
The long day was anywhere but over at this point. Following the festival, members of Dance Gavin Dance and the organizers of Emo Night made a collaborative effort to DJ a post-concert party inside the Observatory from the main stage. Emo Night happens once a month in Echo Park at the Echo/Echoplex and in the two times I’ve been in attendance, the line has wrapped around an entire block with people waiting for a chance to enter the already-at-capacity venue. Once inside, you’re greeted with the event’s signature black balloons and merchandise bearing their hard-to-forget slogan, “Sad As Fuck.” Beyond that you’ll experience multiple stages hosting DJ sets blasting classics like Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, and Saosin. Recently the events have even seen live performances in the upstairs room from artists whose songs are being played downstairs.
Following the festival, the previously empty general admission pit in the Observatory was once again packed with kids and adults alike screaming the lyrics to songs from the early 2000’s, handpicked by the Emo Night and DGD crews. This went on from around 11:00 until nearly 2 am. Eventually, a few minutes before last call, security pulled the barriers and the crowd swarmed onto the stage joining the bands and concert workers they’d been watching all day to sing a few more songs before everything cleared out for the night.
If you missed out on Chain Fest this year, I am truly sorry for you. Here’s to hoping the festival becomes an annual occurence and not a one-time celebration. Either way, Chain Reaction and The Observatory are here to stay and will continue to host shows for everyone and they know how to throw one hell of a 20-year celebration. Get out and support the bands and the venues and cross your fingers that the next festival’s lineup can hold its own nearly as well as this year.
Anthony Green is currently on tour and his latest record Pixie Queen is out now! Here are the remaining dates. Pick up his record HERE.
9/23 – Denver, CO @ The Summit
9/25 – Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
9/26 – Detroit, MI @ Shelter
9/27 – Columbus, OH @ Basement
9/29 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls
10/1 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Dance Gavin Dance kicks off their headliner this Thursday in Los Angeles with a sold out performance at El Rey for the Mothership tour with Hail the Sun. Mothership comes out everywhere on October 7th. Watch their ridiculous video for “Betrayed by the Game” and check tour dates below!
Hail the Sun dropped their third full-length, Culture Scars in June on Equal Vision Records. They will be supporting DGD on the upcoming tour. You can check out a music video of their single, “Paranoia” below as well!
9/22 – El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA –SOLD OUT
9/23 – Social Hall SF – San Francisco, CA –
9/24 – Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR –
9/25 – Neumos – Seattle, WA –
9/27 – The Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO –
9/28 – Granada Theatre – Lawrence, KS –
9/29 – Amsterdam – St. Paul, MN –
9/30 – Portage Theater – Chicago, IL –
10/1 – Emerson Theatre – Indianapolis, IN –
10/2 – Crofoot Ballroom – Pontiac, MI –
10/3 – Mr. Smalls Theatre – Millvale, PA –
10/4 – Lee’s Palace – Toronto, ON –
10/5 – Les Foufounes Électriques – Montreal, QC –
10/6 – The Waiting Room – Buffalo, NY –
10/7 – The Middle East – Cambridge, MA – SOLD OUT
10/8 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA –
10/9 – Webster Hall – New York, NY –
10/11 – Baltimore Soundstage – Baltimore, MD –
10/12 – The NorVa – Norfolk, VA –
10/13 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC –
10/14 – The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA –
10/15 – The Orpheum – Tampa, FL –
10/16 – Culture Room – Ft. Lauderdale, FL –
10/17 – The Social – Orlando, FL –
10/19 – Rocketown – Nashville, TN –
10/20 – The Ready Room – St. Louis, MO –
10/21 – Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK –
10/22 –So What?! Music Festival – Dallas, TX –
10/23 – Scout Bar – Houston, TX –
10/24 – Mohawk – Austin, TX –
10/26 – Vinyl – Las Vegas, NV –
10/27 – The Nile Theatre – Mesa, AZ –
Coheed and Cambria are also back out on the road with Saves the Day and Polyphia in support of The Color Before the Sun (Deconstructed).
Sep 23 Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theatre
Sep 24 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
Sep 25 Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall
Sep 27 Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
Sep 28 New Orleans, LA @ Civic Theatre
Sep 30 Gainesville, FL @ The Forum
Oct 01 North Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
Oct 02 Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
Oct 04 Knoxville, TN @ The Mill & Mine
Oct 05 Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre
Oct 07 Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom
Oct 08 Grand Rapids, MI @ Orbit Room
Oct 09 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theater
Oct 11 Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
Oct 12 Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre
Oct 14 Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre
Oct 15 Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom*
* Coheed and Cambria and Polyphia only.