Kamp KOME 2

By Phil Hamilton

September 13, 1997
Shoreline Amphitheater
Mountain View, CA

One of the biggest attractions each concert season is the radio station festivals that inevitably crop up every summer. KOME attempted to rekindle that old summer camp feel with Kamp KOME 2. This is the second annual Kamp, and not only did it feature great music acts as well as tons of fun stuff to do, but the proceeds went to the Surfrider Foundation to help clean our oceans and beaches.

The sellout crowd of over 21,000 enjoyed a beautiful summer day as well as a plethora of entertainment options, ranging from a mountain-climbing wall, sumo wrestling in inflatable suits, a skateboard and BMX bike ramp, and tons of booths selling everything from jewelry and T-shirts to temporary tattoos and every kind of summer food imaginable.

But the crowd ultimately came for the music, and they were treated to a wide range of acts singing every radio-friendly song you can think of.

Here are just some of the highlights (and lowlights):

Local H kicked off the show at 3 pm in front of an enthusiastic, yet half full crowd. Their short set included the hit single Bound For The Floor that had the fans rockin' on the lawn, as well as the few who showed up early in the reserved section. It's hard to believe that two guys can make as much noise as they did, but Local H put on a highly energized and well-received show.

Matchbox 20 followed Local H, and the crowd's enthusiasm seemed to increase as did the number of people watching. The band members were immaculately groomed and it paid off with tons of teenage girls swooning to their smash hit, Push, and screaming along to the line "I will not take you for granted" at the top of their lungs. They closed their set with a rousing version of Long Day, perhaps the best song on their debut album Yourself Or Someone Like You, and started a mass exodus of fans as they left the stage.

Perhaps the largest crowd of the day, and definitely the loudest ovation, came when Dr. Drew and Adam from Loveline introduced Fiona Apple. The show happened to fall on Fiona's 20th birthday, and she sat down at the piano and opened her soulful set with her debut single Shadowboxer. The crowd sat transfixed as the young, budding star poured her heart into every song and pranced around the stage. She giggled like a child while telling a story about the inspiration for her hit Sleep to Dream (ex-boyfriend from her past), and then belted out the tune like a savvy stage veteran. Fiona received a huge bouquet of flowers from the radio station as well as a standing ovation as she left the stage. The only problem with her set, as is the case with these all day events: it was too short.

Following Fiona Apple is a tough task, but the punk-hip hop-ska band Sugar Ray had no problem doing so. Lead singer Mark McGrath ran onstage and leapt over the photographer's pit and into the surprised yet inviting crowd. He got the fans on his side from the outset with his wild stage antics -- running madly from one side of the stage to the other, frequently high fiving the crowd, having his microphone in his pants more often than singing into it, and he even apologized for having strep throat. The illness had no effect on the set and he kept the crowd on its feet until they finally exploded as he tore through the hit single Fly. McGrath was backed by an enthusiastic group, which included a DJ. Sugar Ray surprised me with the most electrifying performance of the day as well as the one best received by fans.

Whoever arranged the lineup made a huge mistake by scheduling Ben Harper immediately after Sugar Ray. Their two styles couldn't be any more different, and throngs of drained fans left after Sugar Ray's set. Those fans who did leave missed a powerful, soulful set.

While Sugar Ray played to the crowd, Harper kept his head as he played guitar, with every thought seemingly going into the next chord. Harper is best appreciated in a more intimate setting than the cavernous Shoreline. And while he often sells out his concerts, these fans seemed more intent on catching the one-hit-wonders that KOME frequently plays.

Speaking of one-hit-wonders, the catchiest song of the year by far is Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eyed Blind. You can't turn on a radio or TV anymore without hearing the familiar chorus of "do do do's." As these local boys performed live, however, it is easy to slap the one-hit-wonder label on them. They took the stage and lead singer Stephan Jenkins spent more time with his arms held wide open, begging the crowd to adore him, than he did singing. When they introduced their hit single, wondering aloud how a song about heroin abuse and, um, having sex could become such a success, I wondered the same thing about this band.

Earlier in the evening, veteran modern rockers the Violent Femmes showed why they have been so successful for such a long period of time. The crowd was on its feet for the entire set with such alternative staples as Blister In The Sun, Kiss Off, and Gone Daddy Gone (with its ever present xylophone) getting them dancing in the aisles as if it were the 80's all over again. The band then tore through Add It Up, one of the most popular tunes of the 80's, that ended the set but may have introduced a new generation of fans to the Violent Femmes.

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