–by Valerie Helton
–photos by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography
This year’s 30th anniversary of Pointfest kicked off the 2023 summer concert season at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater. The weather was around 80 degrees and sunny, which was perfect compared to previous years where it was scorching and/or raining.
This year, the setup featured 4 stages: Pop’s Local Stage, Point White Stage, Point Black Stage, and the Main Stage.
Pop’s Local Stage was set up to the left of the Main Stage, and featured local bands from the St. Louis area including Split66, Dead7, Crystal Lady, I Like Snaps, At My Worst, and Megadune.
Near the parking lot was the Point White Stage and Point Black Stage, which were right next to each other and had bands alternating on them throughout the afternoon. This was probably my favorite set up for Pointfest, because there was less downtime waiting for the next band to set up. There was a constant flow of bands playing all afternoon.
Liv from The Point introduced the first band on the Point White Stage, The Doubted, while wearing the best Memorial Day attire I have ever seen. Misplaced Religion followed that up by playing the National Anthem on Guitar before beginning their set on the Point Black Stage. Other bands that played the side stages included Inimical Drive and Tigercub.
Des Rocs brought a lot of energy to the Point White Stage with his upbeat music, and ended the set by playing the guitar behind his back.
Next was Band-Maid on the Point Black Stage. This was my first time hearing and seeing them, and I don’t think it will be my last.
Throughout most of the afternoon, the crowd was pretty light around the side stages. Once Band-Maid came out, that whole area was full of people.
Band-Maid (vocalist Saiki Atsumi, guitarist/vocalist Miku Kobato, guitarist Kanami Tono, drummer Akane Hirose, and bassist Misa) had a lot of fun on stage and was instrumentally very talented. They are celebrating their 10th anniversary and this was their first time playing St. Louis. Hopefully, it won’t be their last.
The last band to play on the Point White Stage was St. Louis’ favorite, Greek Fire. The lead vocalist, Moon, ran out on stage waving the St. Louis Flag before they kicked into the crowd favorite “Doesn’t Matter Anyway”. He had been sick all week and was told by his doctor that he shouldn’t even be talking.
His voice sounded a little raspy, but still very strong. He even brought his mom out on stage to introduce to the crowd. The crowd also went nuts when he did his signature backflip during “A Real Life”.
Badflower closed out the side stages. They had a great punk sound, and the lead vocalist Josh Katz stood out by wearing a neon pink beanie.
The last stage was of course the Main Stage where the 4 main bands finished off the evening. Bad Omens started it off with probably my favorite performance of the day, and I think the crowd would have agreed. Lead vocalist Noah Sebastian came on stage wearing a black hoodie, mask and fingerless gloves. When they started playing “Like A Villain”, the hoodie and mask came off, and the crowd loved it.
Unlike the other bands playing on the Main Stage, Bad Omens didn’t have a live stream of their performance playing on the screens around the venue, nor did they allow any of the photographers to shoot their performance. Instead, they had animated “cyberpunk” style videos playing for each song that included cars driving and even a city burning. They really made use of the lights and steam/fog that would shoot out during different parts of the set. Noah interacted with the crowd a lot, and even put on sunglasses that a fan had thrown on stage. They ended with one of my favorite songs, “Dethrone”. It is a very heavy song that hits hard, and the crowd seemed to love it.
Next up was The Pretty Reckless. Lead Vocalist, Taylor Momsen, was born and raised in St. Louis, and mentioned how happy she was to be here. Her voice sounds great live, especially while she dances around the stage. Taylor interacted with the crowd and bandmates throughout the entire performance.
She really engaged the crowd by telling them she wanted everyone to be a member of The Pretty Reckless for the evening by singing as loud as they could. Lead guitarist Ben Phillips had a few solos that were very clean, I enjoyed listening to him play.
Coheed and Cambria was the next band to play. Lead Vocalist, Claudio Sanchez’s voice sounded great as always. He didn’t seem to interact with the crowd at all, which was somewhat disappointing. The crowd seemed to be dying down a little bit in the middle of the set. But once “Welcome Home” started playing, the whole vibe changed. Everyone jumped up from their seats and started singing. Claudio even started playing with the guitar on top of his head.
Finishing off the evening was Incubus. This was the first time I’ve seen them live. I have been listening to them since I was in middle school, and lead vocalist Brandon Boyd still sounded just as good. Bassist Nicole Row filled in for Ben Kenny who is currently battling health issues and did a stellar job, at that.
The show brought back a lot of nostalgic memories for me when they played some of their older songs like “Nice To Know You”, “Pardon Me”, and “Wish You Were Here”. They even played a cover of “Come Together” by the Beatles, which I enjoyed. But throughout their set, Incubus played some of their slower/chiller songs that seemed to put the crowd to sleep at 10pm. I love Incubus, but if I’m being honest, I’m not sure they were the right band for the headliner at Pointfest. They didn’t seem to keep the energy up like some of the other bands throughout the day.
Check out the entire gallery of photos from the day after the setlists below.
Like A Villain
Take Me First
Nowhere To Go
The Pretty Reckless:
Death By Rock And Roll
Since You’re Gone
Only Love Can Save Me Now
Follow Me Down
Make Me Wanna Die
Going To Hell
Take Me Down
Coheed and Cambria:
The Embers of Fire
No World For Tomorrow
The Running Free
A Favor House Atlantic
A Disappearing Act
The Liars Club
Ladders of Supremacy
A Kiss To Send Us Off
Just A Phase
Nice To Know You
Kara, Come Back
Come Together (The Beatles cover)
Sick Sad Little World
Are You In?
Wish You Were Here