Monday, March 29, 2010

Orianthi, Piebald and others standout at Bamboozle

Photo credit: Drew A. Kelley
This story was originally published earlier today on the Orange County Register Web site in the Soundcheck blog.
With any kind of festival featuring so many artists spread across a trio of stages, there are sure to be hits and misses. Fortunately, there were a number of highlights strewn throughout Sunday's (March 28) second half of the Bamboozle California to make the even worthwhile.
Strumming awy on the side stage was Bobby Long, a British singer-songwriter with a rick, authentic baritone, who delivered his songs to the lone accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. He got a small but enthusiastic crowd to listen to winning songs such as "Penance Fire Blues."
Following Long on the side stage was San Diego-based We Shot the Moon, a gifted quartet that performed a 30-minute set highlighted by the infectious "Miracle," the driving "Red Night" and the piano-anchored "The Brightside." Singer Jonathan Jones' voice (notably his use of a distinctive falsetto) and inventive keyboard playing provided the extra element to bring depth to the group's mix of indie, Britpop and modern rock, blended into a sound all its own.
Although Orianthi (pictured above) has performed or appeared on recordings with the far-flung likes of Michael Jackson, Steve Vai, Carlos Santana and Carrie Underwood, there is no doubt the 25-year-old Australia native is rapidly becoming a star on her own. Performing on the main stage, the virtuoso may not yet have found the ideal way to combine AC/DC-esque riff-rock ("Think Like a Man"), 1980s-mining Van Halen ("Feels Like Home") and commercial pop (her biggest hit, "According to You had everyone dancing around). But she can sure shred on the guitar.
Her half-hour appearance was noteworthy simply because it was such a break from so many of the other alt- and indie-styled rockers. With her mix of blues and metal sensibilities, Orianthi wound up one of few truly alternative acts of the festival. And on song after song she provided dazzling and stylish guitar work, whether in quick licks or extended solos.
Not every act was so convincing, however. I grew bored with the Ready Set, out of Fort Wayne, Ind., and walked away after two songs. The quartet worked hard to involved the audience and played its alt-pop with zeal, yet their songs and music just weren't strong enough to sustain my interest.
The same can't be said, though, of the powerful reunion set from Piebald. The four-man outfit, celebrating a number of upcoming reissues this spring (as well as a live DVD, Nobody's Robots - A Farewell to Piebald), the group rocked hard, immediately connecting with a fanatical crowd positioned in front of the side stage. The band's mix of hardcore, emo, Americana and Devo-ish quirkiness continues to be a winning formula.
And this post wouldn't be complete without a nod to the amazing performance by Something Corporate. The headliner took the stage right on schedule (8:30 p.m.) and proceeded to play 14 great songs over the course of 65 minutes. It was great to see one of Orange County's best bands back in action again. Writer George Paul reviewed their set at length and you can read that in the Soundcheck blog at

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