While San Diegans have to endure a slew of “American Idol” rejects and one-hit-wonder bands at their county fair, Orange County has teamed up with local radio stations to put together a summer concert series that presents some of the most popular names in music today.
Hawthorne Heights was one of the first bands on that list. Armed with four radio hits, the Ohio quintet led the crowded amphitheatre through a 12-song set that had baby animals clinging to their mothers for dear life.
Hitting the stage with “We Are So Last Year” and going directly into “The Transition,” front man J.T. Woodruff led his guitar-slinging soldiers through a good selection of tracks from both 2004’s “The Silence in Black and White” and 2006’s “If Only You Were Lonely.”
Woodruff’s haunting vocals mixed with guitarist Casey Calvert’s blood-curling screams filled the amphitheatre with the sound that has made Hawthorne Heights famous.
Bassist Matt Ridenour, drummer Eron Bucciarelli and guitarist Micah Carli complete the group. With Woodruff also playing guitar, Hawthorne Heights’ stage show feels like a competition between the flamboyant guitarists to see who can play theirs the hardest.
“Saying Sorry,” the debut single off their most recent release, is next and is followed by old favorite “Wake Up Call.” The band switches between old album and new album tracks every other song.
The set also included “Breathing in Sequence,” “Niki FM,” “This is Who We Are,” “Blue Burns Orange,” Pens and Needles” and “Speeding Up the Octaves.”
Woodruff doesn’t seem to have much witty banter to entertain the audience. He made a few comments about how many people were there and how much he loves California. He does catch the crowd’s attention though when he announces that the band will be playing at this year’s Nintendo Fusion Tour along with the Plain White T’s.
The band goes offstage for a minute and comes back with “Where Can I Stab Myself in the Ears” and brought the night to an end with ” Ohio is for Lovers.”
The set barely fills an hour, but the crowd seems extremely satisfied. The demographic Hawthorne Heights attracts is a bit surprising. Not very many of the attendees look like they have finished high school, and most of them are female.
The music the band writes is the subject of many jokes among the music scene. It’s not hard to tell why.
It seems like every song Hawthorne Heights writes is about love, hate, dying, leaving or sleeping. And it sounds like they recycle the same guitar breakdown in at least three songs, but there is something horribly addicting about the music.
That one guitar breakdown is good. Calvert’s screaming offsets Woodruff’s whining and makes the music dynamic and the stage show is a guitar war. It has become a guilty pleasure of scene kids everywhere.
Keep an eye out for the new video for “Pens and Needles” on FUSE TV, and check out the O.C. Fair Summer Concerts Series schedule at www.ocfair.com.