Words & Photos by Alicia Armijo
BFD 2018, KEGL (97.1 FM, “The Eagle”)’s annual hard rock festival, took Dallas for a wild ride last Saturday, May 26th at the freshly dubbed “Dos Equis” Pavilion (previously known as the Starplex Pavilion). While the persistent 100+ degree weather and humidity may have deterred some, this day-long festival in the Texas sun brought out the most serious of festival-goers. From the start of this blazing summer day, the Fair Park amphitheater was filled and bustling with sweaty, yet passionate music lovers. Nothing was going to stop this committed crowd from getting their fill of music, beer-drinking, and beach ball bouncing.
This clever, yet crudely named festival (“BFD” stands for exactly what you would expect) had a stand out year, selling more tickets than any year before. I suspect this is primarily due to this year’s unique lineup, which featured phenomenal performances by A Perfect Circle, Stone Temple Pilots, Theory of a Deadman, I Prevail, Nothing More, Candlebox, and 10 Years.
Of this choice collection of bands, alternative metal giants, A Perfect Circle, were a prominent headliner both in their style and verve. Truly, there is no band quite like them. Still, as curious as it may have seemed to many fans to have them on this bill, they have spent the last few months standing out evermore distinctly on other summer music festival bills, including this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (playing along with bands as Beyoncé, Eminem, and The Weeknd).
After their reformation last year, A Perfect Circle has triumphantly returned to make waves across the music scene. This spring, the band has embarked on a run of festivals, spreading their badassery and the good word of their hotly anticipated LP, Eat the Elephant. The album was released in April of this year and was the first album that they have put out in fourteen long years. This concept album masterfully sustains the heart of the band’s emotionally-charged sound and vulnerability, yet Eat the Elephant powerfully propels the band in a new direction that fans–new and old–are taking note of for its technically adept instrumentals and very honest, relatable critique of contemporary western culture. This novelty is something that BFD festival-goers were eager to experience live.
Before the final act of the night, Stone Temple Pilots indulged the crowd with a rock and soulful performance. This show was an excellent introduction for long-time fans to the band’s new lead singer, Jeff Gutt, who brought an undeniable energy to the stage. At times, it was almost uncanny how seamlessly Gutt fit with the seasoned crew of STP. But, much like the band’s adored former frontmen (Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington), Gutt has a dynamic stage presence and vigor that makes him an excellent addition to this new quartet. The band harmoniously wove together a few new releases with many of their classic hits, including “Interstate Love Song” and “Wicked Garden.” Before the close of their set, Gutt called out to his adoring crowd, “Ready to sing, Dallas? …Dallas is feeling it!” before launching into fan-favorite “Plush,” and sparking a venue-wide sing-along. This heavy-rock set was a high note on which many fans chose to end their long day of festival-fun. But, this could hardly be noticed when the final act of the night took the stage.
As many die-hard fans are sure to know, there is nothing quite like experiencing the magic of an A Perfect Circle performance. Truly, their show is a grand production. This handsome five-piece band is supported by a tremendous familial crew that all importantly contribute to creating an experience that fans marvel and travel great lengths to see. For this final U.S. festival performance of their spring tour, we were fortunate to see this band at the height of their tour. Bassist extraordinaire of APC and The Beta Machine, Matt McJunkins, even described this show as one in which things came together in a way that hadn’t quite happened during other performances of the tour. After many consecutive performances, rhythm, and dynamism surely abound.
This incredible performance included some fan-favorites from previous albums, including “The Hollow,” “Weak and Powerless,” and “3 Libras,” but largely showcased songs from their latest album. While some of these new songs were met with less enthusiasm from the crowd than others, many of the early released songs were greeted with a certain familiarity to sing along that is likely to grow with the album in time. Notably, during their play of “The Doomed,” the band was in wonderful sync with dark, mesmerizing geometric visuals that many of the band members later remarked were impressive and unique to this performance. Lucky us, Dallas. Lucky us.
While there were many aspects of this festival performance that were much different than a full night with A Perfect Circle (such as, the noteworthy interludes between songs from frontman Maynard James Keenan or the telling of ridiculous, punny jokes by rhythm guitarist James Iha), the band delivered as compelling and gripping a performance as ever. After an extensive summer adventure through Europe, we can look forward to catching them again in the U.S. this coming fall. Lucky us, U.S. Lucky us.