Wrex The Halls night one started early in the day. Tour busses rolled into the Valley View Casino Center parking lot, (literal) tons of gear were loaded backstage, dressing rooms were decorated and filled with treats for all the artists, and sound checks reverberated through the cavernous Sports Arena – and this was all before noon. The energy when I got there around 3:30pm was already palpable.
Bishop Briggs was the first interview of Wrex The Halls and she charmed the pants off of all of us! Well, Halloran kept his pants on (thankfully) when he interviewed her, but she was so down to earth and sweet, she won everyone over pretty much immediately. Her sister was with her and both of them seemed like people you’d want to hang out with. When she finally hit the stage to open Wrex at 6pm, she brought the thunder! Her voice was huge and solid and she had the crowd in the palm of her hand.
Glass Animals were easy-going and funny backstage – they call Blink 182 “Blink One Eight Two” because that’s what you do when you’re British – and they warmed up the Wrex stage with their dance moves. Local Natives fired up the (even bigger, by then) crowd and then? Band of Horses hit the stage and blew everyone’s minds.
Earlier, BOH’s Ben Bridwell came by the broadcast for an interview and they guy couldn’t be more genuine and charming with that thick southern drawl of his. They started playing “The Funeral” first and about 20 seconds in he stopped, apologized, and said “I think I put my capo in the wrong place!” before starting the song again. They came out swinging, playing a perfect, beautiful, heavy version of that song before launching into “Casual Party” and “No One’s Gonna Love You.” Their sound was big and heavy and his voice just soared, and when they ended with “Is There A Ghost” I almost fell over from the sheer force of its radness. Band of Horses RULED.
…And then there was Beck. Halloran and I met him in his dressing room where there was the most luscious veggie tray accompanied by the largest bowl of ranch dressing I’ve ever seen, along with a rack of potential stage outfits for him and bottles of very fancy water. He was soft-spoken but funny and engaging once he warmed up, and because we only had one remote mic, he was a trooper and held the mic for Hal and I while we took turns talking with him. I told him he was hired. Beck brought the funk when he hit the stage for the final set of the night, starting STRONG with “Loser” and then playing all of his hits. He even threw in some Prince and Bowie cover action towards the end, and his dance moves were on point. Night number one was huge and joyous and just the beginning.
Night TWO of Wrex The Halls started earlier for me because I had to be there by 2:30 to take over the backstage broadcast. When I cruised around backstage it seemed like there were way more massive gear boxes than there had been the night before – Travis Barker alone had a huge pile of them. Stage hands worked fast and furiously getting the gear where it needed to be and ready for sound checks. AFI were running late so we did some juggling and Jim from Jimmy Eat World stepped in to be the first interview of the night. He’s such an intelligent person but also very unassuming – he was interesting and easy to talk to and mellow, so when they tore up the stage later that night, it was like watching his alter ego. Awesome, all the way around.
When Davey and Adam from AFI came by for their interview, The Young Wild were just hitting the stage, opening night number two with swagger. Thankfully, we had monitors so we could watch the show even though we were tucked in backstage. Having just had Davey on my show about a month ago, it was like catching up with a buddy – like Jim Adkins, he’s mellow and funny offstage and then OWNS it in complete rockstar mode onstage. We snuggled into the couch and talked about their new album and the fact that their set at Wrex was going to be only their second AFI show in four years. So rad! And when we thanked them for saving the show and filling in for Kaleo with only three days notice, they thanked 91X for being one of the first stations to ever support AFI, and that felt so good!!! Not every band remembers that stuff so when they do, it rules. We love AFI and they blew the roof off once they hit the stage! The crowd showed up early and the AFI set far exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Jimmy Eat World killed it – Jim’s passion is as evident as ever on songs like “Get it Faster” and “Sweetness,” and “Get Right” and “Sure and Certain” from their new record sounded SO good. Then Pierce the Veil came by the broadcast and were so damn sweet and funny, Vic & Jaime could have their own radio show! They should start a podcast, at the very least. They filled us in on the European tour they just completed and why the word “burrito” isn’t allowed to be spoken when they’re on the road. They were SO fired up to meet Blink 182 later – this was going to be their first time meeting and playing a show with them!
After the interview, the PTV guys headed over to the meet and greet and gifting area – we had goodies for the bands, VR headsets for everyone to try out, and a sweet little photo op area tucked in behind the stage. Every artist who played Wrex over the two nights stopped in and met 91X winners and took pictures with them too – it’s always SO great seeing fans meeting these bands for the first time. Big smiles and happy people is what we aim for!
When PTV took the stage, it was a massive set from start to finish. From the half of a rocket on stage with them to the jumps, crowd sing-alongs, and confetti cannons, the visuals were off the charts. You could see and feel their joy and gratitude and they KILLED it musically, tearing through a ton of songs and firing up the crowd like CRAZY. They pretty much owned the Wrex The Halls stage – every band that played set the bar higher and higher, and PTV were no different. So when Blink 182 finally started, the crowd was so pumped up and so hungry for their hometown heroes to really bring it, and they did.
A bunch of the 91X staff and the production crew gathered backstage for a quick toast to a successful weekend right before Blink opened with “There Is” and went right into “What’s My Age Again” – and it just got better from there. It was trippy seeing and hearing Matt sing Tom’s old parts, but he won us all over by doing it his way and not trying to be Tom, you know? When Hal and I interviewed them backstage they said part of Matt’s hazing was making him eat a ton of Sombreros burritos, and I think it worked – he seemed right at home here in SD.
By the end of night two the crowd was sweaty and the mood was one of pure stoke, from all of our listeners who came to the shows to everyone on our staff who worked so hard to pull it all off. We were exhausted but so happy, and so happy it was over. Wrex the Halls 2016 ruled (and we’re already making plans for X-Fest 2017). Thanks for coming along for the ride!