HFStival 2010

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Sunday, September 26, 2010

Truth be told, this was the first time I’d been to an HFStival. Blasphemy, I know. During the festival’s heyday, I didn’t go to concerts like I do now and once I finally could, the famous festival became defunct. But, after going on hiatus for four years, HFStival was back with a bang. While the line up (with a few exceptions) doesn’t boast the biggest bands of the last few years, it does have several alums from years past, which made it a unforgettable day, if nothing else for nostalgia’s sake.

Marcy Playground:

As is the case for almost all bands on the main stage, Marcy Playground is an HFStival alum. Having first taken part in the festival in 1998, Marcy Playground were back to rock the festival over a decade later. Singer John “Woz” Wozniak told the crowd that when they’d played before he’d been “too drunk to give a proper show” and that he “was going to do it right this time”, and he did despite a broken finger in a metal brace on his fret hand. Their set was the perfect way to start off the show. Mellow, with just enough energy to start warming up the crowd. They played their biggest hit, “Sex and Candy”, early on in the set but didn’t seem to hurt their attendance or overall acceptance.

Vocals: 8.5
Crowd Response: 6
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 8
Overall Rating: 8.5

Set list:

1. Secret Squirrel
2. Sex & Candy
3. Poppies
4. Devil Woman
5. Rock and Roll Heroes
6. Special
7. Sherry Fraser
8. Saint Joe on the School Bus
9. Punk Rock Superstar


Aside from Billy Idol and Naughty by Nature, Lit was the band I was most excited to see. After the rest of the band had come out and started into their new song “Same Shit”, singer A. Jay Popoff strolled on with a beer in his hand and a grin on his face. All bands on the main stage were given forty-five minutes or more for their set (with the exception of Naughty by Nature and opener Funk Mnkyz) so the guys in Lit were able to play through a lot of their biggest hits and give the taste of the new music they were hoping to put out soon. Popoff told the crowd between songs that they’d recently been shopping around for a major label deal and they’d finally signed one (I believe he said with Universal) so they would [hopefully] be putting out new music by next year. I was surprised by the number of people who were familiar with Lit, more so than just with their hits. The whole crowd seemed to enjoy their set, and they went crazy when they ended with “My Own Worst Enemy”. Overall, Lit were in my top 3 for the day. They played with a lot of intensity and drive.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 9
Overall Rating: 9

Set list:

1. Same Shit
2. Four
3. Looks Like They Were Right
4. Miserable
5. Lipstick and Bruises
6. Zip-Lock
7. Over my Head
8. She Don’t Know
9. Something to Someone
10. My Own Worst Enemy


It’s hard to even call the band playing under the name “Fuel”, Fuel. The only original member of the band is singer and guitarist Brett Scallions. I suppose if you’re going to have one original member, it should be the singer. Still, it’s hard to take the band seriously with so many member changes. Scallions sounded pretty good, but lacked any real emotion and the rest of the band just sounded flat. There was a lot of energy, but the passion just didn’t seem to be present.

Vocals: 8.5
Crowd Response: 8
Overall Sound: 8.5
Band Activity: 9
Overall Rating: 8.5

Set list:

1. Untitled
2. Empty Spaces
3. Bittersweet
4. Innocent
5. Shimmer
6. Bad Day
7. Ozone
8. Hemorrhage (In My Hands)

The Presidents of the United States of America:

I was very surprised by POTUSA. I have known the name for quite awhile, but I’d never really had a song to place to the name. I don’t really know anyone who listens to them, so it was hard to imagine them going over that well. When they first started their sound seemed slightly out of place. However, I was completely wrong. There was a lot of energy put into their set, as well as humor. Singer and guitarist Chris Ballew had a good time talking to the crowd and playing the “world’s smallest harmonica” (which consisted of him putting two fingers closely together and pretending to play it). The crowd was in love with them, screaming along to every song. They were way better than I was expecting and were definitely one of the “sleepers” for me.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall Rating: 9

Set list:

1. Tiki God
2. Kitty
3. Highway Forever
4. Mixed Up Son of a Bitch
5. Back Porch
6. Lump
7. Video Killed the Radio Star [Buggles cover]
8. Love Everybody
9. Ghosts are Everywhere
10. Dune Buggy
11. Mach 5
12. Peaches
13. Kick Out the Jams [MC5 cover]
14. We Are Not Going to Make It

Ed Kowalczyk of Live:

Most people know Ed Kowalczyk as the charismatic front man of the rock band Live. But today, he’s not performing with Live (though you wouldn’t know it from his set list), he’s performing songs of his newly released solo album, Alive. Following much harder acts like Presidents of the United States of America and Lit, Ed was a bit of a momentum downer, but that didn’t stop him from having a good time and entertaining the crowd with some of his new material as well as classic Live songs. His covers of Live songs went over much better with the crowd, but everyone seemed to be enjoying his show.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 8.5
Overall Sound: 8.5
Band Activity: 6
Overall Rating: 8 Set list:

1.Just in Time
2. The Great Beyond
3. All Over You [Live cover]
4. Selling the Drama [Live cover]
5. Zion
6. Stand
7. The Dolphin’s Cry [Live cover]
8. I Alone [Live cover]
9. Grace
10. Lightning Crashes [Live cover]

Naughty by Nature:

It’s always hard to gauge how well a rap group will do at a primarily rock show. HFStival isn’t new to having rap on the bill after having the likes of Eminem, The Crystal Method, Cypress Hill and Kanye West on line ups past, but if the rap group doesn’t find some way to appease the rock crowd, it probably won’t go very well. Naughty by Nature did it perfectly, though. Implementing mash ups of some of rocks biggest songs, including “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, “We Will Rock You” by Queen and “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes, as well as some of raps biggest songs, they found a way to get the rock crowd more involved. Playing songs like ” O.P.P.” and “Hip Hop Hooray” didn’t hurt either. They were also the only main stage age who had not played any previous HFStivals. They were a great surprise and glad they lived up to the hype.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall Rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. Don’t Stop Believing [Journey cover]
2. We Will Rock You [Queen cover]
3. O.P.P.
4. Uptown Anthem
5. Craziest
6. Party Up [DMX cover]
7. Jump Around [House of Pain cover]
8. Seven Nation Army [The White Stripes cover]
9. Jamboree
10. Feel Me Flow
11. Hip Hop Hooray


Everclear was the disappointment of the day. As was the case for Fuel, singer and guitar player Art Alexakis is the only original band member. Most of the band was just added last year, and it showed. Everclear are tied with Third Eye Blind for the most veteran HFStival alum on the bill, but they didn’t play like a band with something to prove, they played like a band who’d never played on a major stage before…or at least didn’t care to again. Alexakis forgot some of the words to “AM Radio” and had to stop the song early and never seemed to have any interest in the set from the beginning. It was a shame for not only people like myself who had never seen the band before, but also hardcore fans that felt slighted by an overly apathetic performance. To their credit, the rest of the band seemed into it and overall musically they sounded pretty good and played from a fan-favorites set list but I can’t help but feel slighted by an apathetic front man which just tainted my opinion of their set.

Vocals: 5
Crowd Response: 8.5
Overall Sound: 8
Band Activity: 8
Overall Rating: 7.5

Set list:

1. Everything to Everyone
2. Father of Mine
3. Heroin Girl
4. AM Radio
5. You Make Me Feel Like A Whore
6. Volvo Driving Soccer Mom
7. I Will Buy You A New Life
8. Wonderful
9. Santa Monica

Billy Idol:

Wow, just…wow. Billy Idol put on one hell of a show. After starting his solo career in 1980, Billy Idol made quite the same for himself. For a man that’s almost fifty-five, it’s hard to imagine him putting on that he did. He didn’t have any crazy videos, pyrotechnics or anything of that nature; all he brought with him was his catalogue of hits, bad boy machismo and thirty-five years of experience. That’s all he really needed, any way. While the majority of the band was set up in the back of the stage, Idol and his lead guitarist Steve Stevens were located upfront and personal. Idol strode from side to side, up and down, and reaching out his hand to members of the crowd who he saw singing along. Young and old alike gathered to watch the rock legend play. It was amazing to finally see him play and he put on a show that none of us will forget.

Vocals: 10
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 10
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall Rating: 10

Set list:

1. Ready Steady Go [Generation X cover]
2. Dancing with Myself
3. Flesh For Fantasy
4. Scream
5. Eyes w/o a Face
6. King & Queens
7. L.A. Women [The Doors cover]
8. King Rocker [Generation X cover]
9. Blue Highway
10. Rebel Yell
11. White Wedding

Third Eye Blind:

Third Eye Blind had the unfortunate task of playing after Billy Idol. Whether Idol chose to play in that spot or not, Third Eye Blind were tasked as the headliners for the newly revived HFStival. Having played HFStival in 1997 and 2000, Third Eye Blind were no strangers to the festival, but had clearly worked their way up from a middle band on the second stage in 1997 to main stage headliners in 2010.

Half the crowd left after Idol finished, so Third Eye Blind weren’t left with much to work with besides die-hard fans and the casual fans who decided to actually get their moneys worth and watch everyone. Singer Stephan Jenkins did his best to keep the crowd engaged and entertained throughout the set and for the most part did a good job, but unfortunately playing after Idol was more of a daunting task than they expected. Still, they sounded great and made due with what they had.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall Rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. Losing a Whole Year
2. Can You Take Me
3. Graduate
4. Never Let You Go
5. Wounded
6. Motorcycle Drive By
7. Slow Motion
8. Don’t Believe A Word
9. Semi-Charmed Life
10. Jumper
11. Monotov’s Private Opera
12. God of Win

Photos (Bands Listed in Alphabetical Order):

Leave a Reply