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Tool, Linkin Park, Alice In Chains Rock Epicenter

Proving all things to rock fans — save for those who prefer the old school stuff — the Southern California’s inaugural Epicenter festival offered something to rock you no matter what your tastes.

New metal? Check, with Hollywood Undead and Atreyu. Platinum acts? How about a little Linkin Park and Tool headlining? Socially conscious? There was Street Sweeper Social Club featuring Tom Morello and the Coup‘s Boots Riley. Some cosmic hard rock, even? Yes, Wolfmother for you. Hell, even grunge was represented with the reformed Alice in Chains.

Backstage, acts were trying to juggle all of their responsibilities with getting to see the monster show. “Hopefully we’re not doing press by the time Alice In Chains, Linkin Park and Tool come on,” Hollywood Undead’s Charlie Scene said to Noisecreep backstage.

Before Alice though, Wolfmother brought their spacey rock to the tens of thousands of fans out in front of the Pomona Fairplex stage. Coming off one of the most promising hard rock debuts in recent memory, the Australian act has found itself basically as a new band with only frontman Andrew Stockdale remaining for the upcoming album ‘Cosmic Egg.’ So there were obvious questions and concerns as to whether the new lineup could live up to the impressive stage show Wolfmother exhibited the first time around. Consider those concerns resolved, as their set was a highlight of the day, sounding tight as ever on ‘Woman’ — and going psychedelic on ‘Dimension.’

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Epicenter 2009
Tool, Linkin Park, Alice In Chains and more rocked Epicenter on August 22, 2009. See All Photos >>

Kevin Winter, Getty Images for AIC


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    Mastodon at Scion Rock Fest 2009 held at the Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia Saturday, February 28, 2009

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    Crowd at Scion Rock Fest 2009 held at the Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia Saturday, February 28, 2009

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    Neurosis at Scion Rock Fest 2009 held at the Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Brian Manley for Spinner

    Neurosis at Scion Rock Fest 2009 held at the Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Brian Manley for Spinner

    Crowd at Scion Rock Fest 2009 held at the Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Brian Manley for Spinner

    Baroness at Scion Rock Fest 2009 held at the Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Brian Manley for Spinner

    Baroness at Scion Rock Fest 2009 held at the Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Brian Manley for Spinner

    Baroness at Scion Rock Fest 2009 held at the Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Brian Manley for Spinner

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Questions are something Alice In Chains can definitely relate to. Since reforming with new member William DuVall, the iconic Seattle group has faced criticism and doubts after moving on without late frontman Layne Staley. But the group, as they told Noisecreep recently, is taking the next step forward with the forthcoming ‘Black Gives Way to Blue,’ and fans seem to be accepting the move more. At least that’s the case if their set show was any indication. Mixing the new, such as ‘Check My Brain’ and ‘Looking to You,’ with Alice classics, like ‘Would,’ ‘Man in the Box,’ and ‘Rooster,’ the band deservedly had the entire front of the stage pumping their fists in appreciation and drew the praise of their fellow bands.

“It’s great to see Alice In Chains up here sparkling on stage,” Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington said during LP’s 80-minute set. And before Alice came on, Atreyu vocalist Alex Varkatzas turned back into a fan. “To see Alice in Chains would be awesome,” he told Nopisecreep backstage excitedly.

Following that kind of emotional moment would be tough for any band, but Linkin Park — despite some technical difficulties that saw the sound cut out for two minutes during ‘Breaking the Habit’ — got the crowd up with a greatest hits-laden set that turned more adventurous in the encore. Bennington brought out his new band, Dead By Sunrise, for a promising three-song sampling, including the lead single ‘Crawl Back In,’ before his LP band mates laid out a sterling rendition of ‘New Divide,’ the massive hit from ‘Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen.’

And then there was one. Taking advantage of being the first act to play completely after sundown, Tool came out to a full-on rock star welcome under an array of bright lights, lasers and trippy video images for the opening ‘Jambi.’ And that Maynard James Keenan, who frequently stands in the shadows anyway, stayed there due to a leg injury that left him on a crutch did nothing to diminish either the band’s impact or the crowd’s insane enthusiasm for Tool, as they proved once again why they are one of hard rock’s most headline-worthy acts.

Backstage, Varkatzas expressed hope Epicenter would become a fixture on the Southern California festival scene. If it does — which we’re all for — this year left a strong blueprint to build from.

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