Live: 94.5 The Buzz Bud Light Weenie Roast 2012

CYNTHIA WOODS MITCHELL PAVILION — 7/28/2012: Friday afternoon, I got the email: “You are approved for a photo pass for tomorrow.” I had actually forgotten I’d asked for a photo pass to the 94.5 The Buzz Bud Light Weenie Roast, and I don’t remember why I asked, aside from the chance to practice photography. But I felt like I had better go, since I’d asked for the pass.

None of the bands playing qualify as “favorite bands,” much less bands I even listen to on an occasional basis, but I’m trying to get better at photography and hadn’t taken photos at the Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion yet, so after a short battle trying to get my wife to go (no luck) and asking Jeremy from SCR if he wanted to go (no luck), I wrote back and told Levi in Media Relations — if you don’t know Levi, then you don’t know the Houston music scene — that I’d see him the next day.

As you may know, I am trying to see 366 bands this year. That’s one per day in a leap year. I am up to 234 now, and I can’t count any of them twice. Seeing The Wheel Workers 10 times, as I have this year, still only counts as one. (Dang, I just realized I’ve seen The Wheel Workers perform more times this year than I’ve seen my own band perform.) So that’s another reason for me to go see all these Buzz bands. Finally, just getting out of my musical comfort zone once in awhile is a necessary part of life. I am a self-confirmed music snob, but lately I have been making an effort to not be as snobby. Don’t laugh; I really am trying.

I must have not been that eager to get to the venue, because I arrived just after the first band started and so missed my chance to photograph them. Truth is, I didn’t want to pay $15 to park, so I parked in the Macy’s parking lot. Eventually Levi came back out to the guard area and took me inside in time to walk up to see the next band, Trapt. (Levi, by the way, just got back from his wedding and honeymoon — in Montana — so it was exciting to see him as a married man.)

Trapt. I had heard the name, but by no means am I familiar with their music. However, they lead off the show with their biggest hit, and I instantly recognized the song: “Headstrong.” Wow, that song came out 10 years ago! Once that tune gets in your head, there’s no getting it out.

The band was fun to photograph. It was still early and bright outside, so I wasn’t getting much in the way of colorful lighting, but singer Chris Taylor Brown was charismatic and photogenic. Looks like Trapt has done the Def Leppard thing and re-recorded their “greatest hits” on one album so that they can own their songs. I guess that’s going to become a lot more common in the future.

Next up was Hoobastank. I’m a little more familiar with them, though I’m not exactly sure why. As soon as I saw singer Doug Robb, I said out loud, “Oh yeah, that guy!” He was definitely fun to photograph. Both he and guitarist Dan Estrin made numerous funny faces while playing and singing. I couldn’t tell if they were making faces intentionally, but I left all of those shots out of the final cut except for one.

After three songs were over, we were back out of the photo pit. After each photo session, I was allowed to go to my seat, but I had to take my camera back to the guards. This became a long trek, considering there were four bands that I shot and a fifth I didn’t. But it allowed me some time to enjoy the music and get a feel for the crowd. Hoobastank had the masses singing along to their #1 hit, “The Reason,” from 2004. I also enjoyed their new single, “This is Gonna Hurt.”

The next band was AWOLNATION. I have some acquaintances, a married couple named Jim and Cindy, who really love this band; I get Cindy’s Facebook posts, and she was talking about AWOLNATION playing Warehouse Live about a year ago. That was just a blip on the radar for me, so I’ve heard their name but never went as far as to listen to their album.

Turns out in the meantime these guys have been on the radio non-stop, to a tune of two top ten hits. While photographing them, I couldn’t help but think that frontman Aaron Bruno looked a little like a blond version of Ken Stringfellow from The Posies, and just a little bit like a blond version of the late, great Michael “Eyedea” Larsen. Enough so that I wondered how this guy was becoming super-famous while The Posies and Eyedea managed to stay relatively obscure. It was something I’ve always thought about, but I think about it even moreso when I’m photographing famous people. What makes them have that “hit single” while my favorites go unnoticed?

Also while photographing them, it started to get dark enough that the lights were making a difference in the shots. Three songs, and we were out again. This time I went to my actual seat instead of any open seat that was convenient. There I met two ladies that one of my fellow photographers had told me about. It seems the writer for the Houston Press had given his seats to his girlfriend and she gave him her lawn tickets. I figured it was them because they usually sit the press people together, so I asked, and I was right.

One of them told me Chevelle was one of the best live bands around, so I should stay for them. I enjoyed AWOLNATION just enough to power through it (parts of their music had a Pink Floyd bent to it), but I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through another Buzz band.

Back down to the guard’s room one more time to get my camera, and then back to the stage for Chevelle, yet another band I had heard of but wouldn’t be able to name any songs of. See, this is where I really do sound like a music snob (puts on snobby accent) and declare: “I steer clear from music that finds its way onto the radio!” Well, that is pretty much true, but somehow Muse broke that rule. Though most people had never heard of them, I made my way to Coachella to see them in 2004, having bought their second album on import and their first out of the budget bin. Nothing will make you a bigger music snob than being able to say you loved a band before they were famous.

Back to Chevelle. I knew after the first verse what I was going to do. I was going to give that photographer my ticket and tell him to give it to the writer so he could visit his girlfriend in the good seats. After three songs’ worth of Chevelle, that was a no-brainer. They were the worst parts of Metallica, Nickelback, and Green Day fused into one. Like I said, I’m trying to knock the music snob out of myself. I didn’t say I’d be successful. END


(Photos [top to bottom]: Chris Taylor Brown (Trapt); Doug Robb (Hoobastank); AWOLNATION; Dean Bernadini (Chevelle). Photos [l to r from top left]: Aaron Bruno (AWOLNATION); David Amezcua (AWOLNATION); AWOLNATION; Aaron Bruno; Drew Stewart (AWOLNATION); Dean Bernardini & Pete Loeffler (Chevelle); Sam Loeffler (Chevelle); Dean Bernardini; Pete Loeffler; Dean Bernardini; Doug Robb; Jesse Charland (Hoobastank); Dan Estrin & Doug Robb (Hoobastank); Chris Hesse (Hoobastank); Dan Estrin; Crowd for Hoobastank; Pete Charell (Trapt); Robb Torres (Trapt); Chris Taylor Brown; Weenie Roast crowd. All photos by Jason Smith.)

Live review by . Live review posted Thursday, August 9th, 2012. Filed under Features, Live Reviews.

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