In just four short years, the Epicenter festival has already become a California classic, an end-of-summer blowout that over the last several seasons has featured everyone from Blink-182 and Eminem to KISS and Limp Bizkit.

Now a one-day concert as opposed to the two-day fest it started out ass, this year brought the usual mix of classic and cutting edge to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, Calif.

The sweltering day started on the Monster Stage outside the main venue, where Hyro Da Hero, Beware of Darkness, and Hollywood Undead, among several other acts, sweated it out in the midday heat which approached 100 degrees.

Once the sun set though, the sold out amphitheater (which includes a sprawling lawn up top) was treated to a solid and durable array of bands starting with up-and-comers Dead Sara. While the L.A.-based hard rock quartet didn't play to a capacity crowd, they nevertheless delivered an energized set decorated with huge vocal hooks courtesy of frontwoman Emily Armstrong.

Chevelle was next, followed by Scars on Broadway, the side project of System of a Down's Daron Malakian. Both bands delivered respectable sets, but it was not until the big final three took over that the crowd settled in filled in the outdoor arena and seemed to start paying closer attention.

Charles Epting

The summer air stayed warm even as nightfall hit, which added to the sweat-stained fury of both Bush and Deftones. Gavin Rossdale and company delivered an intense, passionate set that included "Machinehead" and a couple of newer songs, "All My Life" and "The Sound of Winter."

Charles Epting

Deftones, led by Chino Moreno, raised the bar even higher with an inspired, blue-collar assault that was all raw energy and fire. They also unveiled their new single, "Leathers," from their upcoming November release, Koi No Yokan.

Then it was time for the headliners, Stone Temple Pilots, who were in the news last week for having missed a show. No worries at Epicenter though. Frontman Scott Weiland was sharp and on point, in solid voice and in a loose and relaxed mood, dancing, spinning and gesticulating to hit after glorious hit. "Big Empty," "Plush," "Vaseline", "Interstate Love Song," the opener, "Crackerman" - all were played with understated style and street cool that has come to define this powerhouse band. Blending funk, grunge, dark and swirling psychedelia, STP was at their powerful best.

Charles Epting

Brothers Robert and Dean DeLeo, bass and guitar respectively, anchored things beautifully on either side of Weiland. Rob's trademark duck-walk-upright-bass dance added the usual backbone to everything, and drummer Eric Kretz was reliable as ever,

All in all, a very satisfying, sweaty and powerful way to end summer, despite the torrid temperatures.

Charles Epting