Festival Review: Operation Kickass

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By: Paul Huether
Operation Kickass Festival
Chula Vista, CA
14, 15 September, 2013

Rock ‘n roll took over Chula Vista this past weekend – proving that the decreasingly popular genre is still in fact a crowd-pleaser. San Diego’s local rock station, Rock 105.3, along with Pizza Hut, Rockstar Energy, and Coldcock Whiskey, sponsored the event entitled Operation Kickass Festival at Sleep Train Amphitheater on Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, the 15th. Saturday’s bands included: Mindset Evolution, Hell or Highwater, and Attika7 on the Coldcock Whiskey stage, and All That Remains, HIM, Halestorm, Volbeat, and headliner Avenged Sevenfold on the main stage.  No matter how large or small the fanbase may be for these bands, every fan in attendance was there simply to enjoy real rock music. Knowing the words to some of the less popular songs isn’t important; just throw your arms up in the air, nod your head, and you’ll have a good time.

The festival kicked off at 1:30 pm Saturday afternoon. The small Coldcock Whiskey-sponsored stage drew quite the crowd by the time the final performer, Attika7, came on around 4:15 pm. This secondary stage was general admission only, so you can imagine this got a little intense, as pits were formed and moshing took over.

Attika7, a small band from Los Angeles, is made up of former members of bands including Biohazard, Walls of Jericho, StaticX, and Soulfly. Of these members, the most famous would have to be Rusty Coones, an actor on the hit television series “Sons of Anarchy”. The crowd, mixed with everything from pre-pubescent Avenged Sevenfold fans, to adults in their mid 50s, loved what Attika7 had to offer. Lead singer Evan Seinfeld definitely kept things interesting, sharing stories, and just enjoying being up in front of thousands. I think most in attendance would agree they put on the best act on the secondary stage.

When 5:00 pm rolled around, and it was time for everyone to make that exciting transition to the amphitheater, the place really filled up. It was now time for all of us paying fans to see the bands that we ultimately came for. It had already been a long day, considering most fans had been at Sleep Train since before noon. Seeing seats, to actually physically sit down in, was a blessing. Let me tell you, standing for five or more hours and being surrounded by thousands for hours is not exactly the best time. I prefer to be out of the craziness anyway; all in favor of just enjoying the music?

Lineup Highlights:

Halestorm – With over 15,000 eager fans in attendance, Halestorm was ready to take the stage around sunset. Halestorm, a small rock band from Pennsylvannia, is the epitome of unique: not only are they a 2013 Grammy Award winning rock band for their hit “Love Bites (So Do I),” they are also lead by a female vocalist. With all of this in their favor, Halestorm put on arguably the best non-headlining act I’ve ever witnessed. The crowd was easily infatuated with their performance, performing both fast-paced, screaming rock songs and their slower “love” songs. Lzzy Hale (yes that’s how it is spelled, and yes her last name is Hale, as in Halestorm) has a fierce, deep female voice, similar to (in my opinion) that of Pat Benatar. Oddly enough, Lzzy Hale, who has been with the band since the age of 13, has publicized that her idol is in fact Benatar.

Volbeat – Volbeat, a Danish band formed in Copenhagen and inspired by the voices of Johnny Cash and Elvis, entered the main stage after the sunset, giving their performance more of an indoor concert feel. Volbeat opened with arguably one of their most entertaining songs – “Still Counting.” They played most of their hits, but also wanted to focus this event on promoting their newest album, “Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies”, which was released earlier this year. In fact, this obscure album cover was used as the backdrop for their performance.

Overall, day 1 of the Rock 105.3 Operation Kickass Festival was a blast. Rock music is a genre that unfortunately isn’t as popular as it used to be, mainly due to the rise in popularity in other genres. It was great to see so many talented rock bands come together in San Diego to put on a fantastic show and really prove that rock isn’t dead. With audience members from all over the western continental United States and even Mexico, the diversity in the crowd was something I have never seen at a concert. It actually makes me wonder: is rock the ultimate universal genre of music? I hope that if you appreciate rock music you get the chance to check out a big festival such as this. It will be worth your time and money and will definitely change your perspective on the role of rock music in today’s society.