Featured Photo By DEBI DEL GRANDE
SAN BERNARDINO – In one giant sweeping night of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Cal Jam 17 featuring the Foo Fighters proved that concerts and festivals will continue to thrive.
The San Bernardino-based Cal Jam 17 attracted at least 30,000 Rock ‘N’ Roll fans who came to see top headliners Foo Fighters, Queens Of The Stone Age, Cage The Elephant and The Kills perform on a beautiful — and long — day of music and healing.
The attendance was a testament that fans had little reluctance to go to a big music festival despite recent tragic events.
Music Festival Repurposed
A week ago, 22,000 people at the Route 91 country festival in Las Vegas were fired upon by an overhead sniper, leaving 59 people dead and more than 500 injured. And while the event has left Americans hurting, it didn’t keep people from attending Cal Jam 17 at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino.
Cal Jam 17 was named after Cal Jams held in 1974 and 1978, the latter featuring Aerosmith. The latest incarnation was curated by Dave Grohl and was held to celebrate the new Foo Fighters album Concrete and Gold. But that purpose took a back seat as the day and night had a healing effect with almost all 19 performing bands paying tribute to the Las Vegas victims and Tom Petty.
San Bernardino Still Healing
San Bernardino was an appropriate site for the healing music event. Almost three years ago a San Bernardino county government worker and his wife killed 14 people and injured 22 others at a Christmas party at Inland Regional Center.
San Bernardino people still are recovering from the terrorist incident and the victims are still fighting for benefits and financial help as a result of the attack. No mention was made of the local victims during the Cal Jam 17 event.
Homme and Eagles of Death Metal
“I think the people really wanted to come together, we’ve had a lot of senseless tragedy,” said Sean McCreen from Los Angeles. “This was good timing for everybody to start some healing.”
Josh Homme did take an opportunity when he saw a sign in the audience that said “Vegas Strong,” and asked the owner in the audience if he could have it. He held it up for all to see. The moment was captured by photographers who were still in the pit within their three song limit.
Photo opportunities aside, mass shootings is a topic that impacts Homme. His other band Eagles of Death Metal was performing at the Bataclan in Paris one month prior to the San Bernardino shootings in 2015 when a terrorist shooting broke out. Jesse Hughes and the rest of the band escaped, but the band’s merch manager and 89 people at the concert were killed and hundreds were injured.
Foo Fighters and Cal Jam 17 Weirdness
Cal Jam 17 was a success from its appearance. There were a few issues though: The food was too expensive (averaging $15 for a burger or a beverage), some say it was too hot at 93 degrees, and others say there were some weird website issues.
NOTE: By Sunday late afternoon the website appeared to be functioning normally and features that had been designed into the site were back in place.
The merch was a better deal than the food, as T-shirts were going for about $25 and the lines for the merch wrapped around and down the grassy aisles.
Overall Cal Jam 17 seemed to be a fan favorite. It is not known if the festival is a one-off or will continue annually.
Cage The Elephant Gets Best Performance
Among the 19 bands that came to play were some oustanding veterans and great up-and-comers. Most had a good following.
Performances by The Kills, The Struts and Royal Blood kept the audience spellbound earlier in the day.
Cage The Elephant was outstanding performer at Cal Jam 17 as frontman Matt Schultz rocked the place with his wild antics and during the set stripped down to his skivvies and danced the night away.
Cage the elephant opened their set with “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” in tribute to Petty whose death made headlines on the same day as the Vegas shooting. The band members have said many times that Petty influenced their music.
Cage The Elephant has rocketed to fame over the last few years mainly attributable to good and catching music and Schultz, the dynamic front man who continually keeps the audiences entertained.
Queens of the Stone Age followed Cage The Elephant and rocked the place with their spot-on music as people jammed up to the front to see the superstar Homme and his crew. The light show was very odd, as bright white lights on poles were intersperced throughout the stage, creating an ill effect for capturing photos. Fans commented that their iPhone efforts were thwarted and perhaps that was the intended effect.
Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters welcomed a range of guest performers, including saxophonist Dave Koz, and Alison Mosshart and Liam Gallagher, whose bands played earlier in the day. Joe Perry, whose band, Aerosmith, played the 1978 Cal Jam also made a celebrity appearance. The Foos will tour to support the new album, Concrete and Gold.
Grohl told the enthusiastic audience thousands that the band wanted to “throw a party” for the fans and that “all this was done for you.” He opened the Foos’ nearly three-hour-long set with a “Times Like These” solo performance.