Exactly how edgy can Edgefest be when it has eight toes planted in the past?
That’s been a recurring dilemma for this annual spring rite of sweat, exposed skin and distorted guitars put on by KDGE-FM. Edgefest turned 25 this year, but organizers decided not to trumpet its silver anniversary Saturday at Toyota Stadium before a young crowd of 20,500 -- and for good reason: Who wants to attend the same festival your parents were probably at the night you were conceived?
Still, the 1990s were everywhere you looked, from headliner the Offspring, to the Hacky Sack players on the field to the endless crowd-surfing -- an old cliché even more annoying than the next-gen ritual of blocking everyone’s view with your smart phone.
Check out pictures of Edgefest in the gallery below.
Some impressions from the evening portion of Edgefest:
Death Cab for Cutie
The Washington State band sounded impeccable on its first tour without guitarist Chris Walla, while Ben Gibbard still sounded shell-shocked by his divorce from Zooey Deschanel: “There's a dumpster in the driveway/Of all the plans that came undone,” he sang in the new song “Black Sun.”
High points: Chiming hits like “The New Year” and “Soul Meets Body” that managed to be sad and upbeat at the same time.
Low points: All the rampant R.E.M. influences that made you wish R.E.M. was onstage instead of Death Cab for Cutie.
What Dexter Holland and company lacked in range -- especially in the vocal department -- they made up for in post-punk intensity and airtight musicianship.
High point: The timeless charm of “Self Esteem.”
Low point: The dated humor of “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy).”
Hitting the stage at sunset, the Seattle band with the Talking Heads vibe played the night’s most memorable set as it bounced from dirty blues to staccato trance-rock.
High point: “This Devil’s Workday,” the best song Tom Waits never wrote.
Low points: Trying in vain to understand singer Isaac Brock’s spastic diction.
Eight years after he broke big, Pittsburgh mash-up DJ Gregg Gillis wisely toned down the classic rock samples in favor of a more eclectic and well-rounded sound.
High point: The roadie who created air sculptures with a leaf blower and 40-foot-long ribbons of plastic.
Low point: The subatomic bass that made your ribs feel like they were about to shatter into a million pieces.
A classic case of Split Personality Disorder: One minute, Aaron Bruno and his Los Angeles electronic rock band sounded like Black Sabbath on Red Bull; the next, they channeled Paul McCartney at his mellowest.
High points: Any time Bruno burst into an echo-laded scream alá Trent Reznor.
Low point: The irritating, singsongy “Kill Your Heroes.”
Pretty much what you’d expect from suburban white guys dabbling in rap and reggae.
High point: The summertime ear-worm “Spread Too Thin.”
Low points: All the bland Caribbean-rap songs that recalled 311 without the 420.
Thor Christensen, Special Contributor; video by Daisy Avalos