U.S. Open of Surfing Annual Free Music Festival Concert Review

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Each year, hundreds of people gather in Huntington Beach, California in July to attend the week-long surfing competition known as the U.S. Open.  Along with being the biggest surfing competition in the world, the Open is an excuse for Southern Californians and people from all over the world to come together on the beach and wear minimal amounts of clothing, write lewd phrases on their body in marker, engage in illicit activities (like littering and jay-walking ok geez), and of course, listen to some amazing music on the shore of the Pacific. With the sponsorship of House of Vans shoe company, widely known for their influence over skater culture and the music scene, the U.S. Open hosts a free mini-festival each year for its guests. This event is considered a must for most young adults in the Southern Los Angeles/Orange County area including myself and my group of friends; so, on Friday the 26th, the day that Modest Mofeatureduse and Matt Costa were set to play, we gathered supplies and were on our way to make more ridiculous memories in my best friend’s beloved Kia Soul (aka the hamster car). Parking was a nightmare but once we finished our trek down the streets of the beach town where the pavement meets the sand, it was all worth the effort. Music blasting, food and free sponsored merchandise stands, and hundreds of people of all ages were scattered across the shore in beautiful weather. It was obvious that thousands were aware of the hype of this day and just as anxiously awaited the performance of the band that shaped our early adolescence. We pushed our way into the enormous mass of people (seriously, it was ridiculous. Check out this 360 tour of the crowd: http://kroq.cbslocal.com/take-a-360-tour-of-modest-mouse-at-the-vans-us-open-of-surfing/) and listened to the chill folk sounds of Huntington Beach native, Matt Costa. Costa has spent the last few years touring with big indie names such as Death Cab for Cutie, Oasis, Jack Johnson, and Modest Mouse and his and beachy, upbeat music was perfect for the sunny and carefree day the crowd was experiencing. Although most of the crowd seemed to be unfamiliar with his music and probably came to see Modest Mouse perform, Costa and his raw guitar sounds were well-received.

Modest Mouse is a band infamous for being unpredictable during their performances. From playing apathetically and not once acknowledging the audience to frontman Isaac Brock cutting himself onstage in a drunken stupor, the band has been notorious for not giving your average indie show. They finally made their appearance and gave the crowd what it wanted - old and new hits, and something to jump around to. Since the crowd was so big, (and obnoxious, might I add. I had at least 3 pre-teen butts graze my face in failed crowdsurfing attempts, and got side-boob slapped at least once. If you’re going to throw yourself into a pool of hundreds of stoners at least give us a fair warning.) the sound quality was not the best, but diehard fans had no trouble singing along and enjoying the set. I was waiting for them to do something, anything weird and after about an hour or so I saw what all the reviews I read were talking about. The band addressed us only minimally, and closed abruptly WITHOUT PLAYING “FLOAT ON,” their biggest and catchiest hit.          crowd_ellis          The crowd was in shock. We chanted “Float On” for 10 minutes to no avail. My friends and I left the show disappointed and unsatisfied, experiencing what I like to call “musical blue balls” - a term I came up with after leaving MGMT’s performance at the Penn State Spring Music Festival when they refused to play “Kids.” My musical balls were very blue. Other critics could sympathize with the bands, concluding that they were simply tired of playing their biggest singles and didn’t want to become one-hit-wonders, but I spare no mercy and hold strong to the idea that these songs helped make them big, and the least they can do is play the hits their fans fell in love with from day one. Musically, MM could not have given a better show. Their energy and passion showed thro  ugh their sound. However, their connection with their fans was lacking and killed my buzz towards the end. I have mixed feelings about this concert, but considering the fact that it was free I guess I’m not allowed to be that upset. Overall, I don’t regret going to see them at all and it was a day well-spent. I recommend this event to all beach and music-lovers who can tolerate annoying 13-year-old bikini-clad girls with “spank me” written above their butts, and will definitely attend next year if I'm in town. For more information about the U.S. Open of Surfing, you can visit their official website at http://www.usopenofsurfing.com/.