So many bands, so little time. What to do? Well, on a night like this in San Francisco, you pick and choose your battles, so it involved seeing two bands early at Bottom of the Hill and heading over to Slim's afterwards for another pair of rockin' acts. First up: Flashlight Brown at Bottom. All I knew about this 4-piece was that they were from Toronto but I was pleasantly surprised by their punk-pop explosion. Frontman Matt Hughes couldn't stop talking about how great San Francisco was, bringing it up between virtually every song, so more props there. Looking forward to checking out their Hollywood Records debut.
Next up on the bill was the biggest surprise of the night. I was familiar with "Swing Swing," but the rest of All American Rejects' set blew me away. Their roaring Jawbreaker-meets-Knapsack guitar attack was definitely the highlight of the evening. I don't know what's in the water in Stillwater, OK, but these kids brought the hooks and the rock in equally heaping portions. Be on the lookout for these kids playing live in your 'hood, as they are definitely worth checking out.
I then rushed over to Slim's to check out Taking Back Sunday. I quickly learned one thing: the kids love them some Taking Back Sunday. Vocalist Adam Lazzara sounded a bit quiet at some points, but all he needed to do to rectify the situation was hold the mic towards the audience, where the throng sang each and every word loudly and proudly. I was amazed. This band had really connected with its fanbase and the kids were going mental for it. Nice job, Taking Back Sunday. Not only that, but Lazzara had some of the best microphone tricks I'd ever seen, including one where he'd whip the cord around his neck and another where he'd swing the mic and kick it back up before it hit the ground. I wanna be able to do that...
Last band of the evening: The Used. I knew they were from Provo, UT, but weren't Utah Jazz fans. I knew that frontman Bert McCracken was dating Kelly Osbourne, but since I don't watch The Osbournes, I didn't know much else. As soon as they hit the stage I quickly learned two things: one, Bert is one scary looking mo-fo, mixing Charlie Manson with a 100-pound less large Jack Black, and, two, the kids love them some Used. Yet again, the crowd sang loudly, belting out the words to all the songs. McCracken busted out his legendarily famous backflip and completely controlled the crowd, getting them to jump or clap in unison with a single command. The singles ("Taste Of Ink," "A Box Full Of Sharp Objects" ) were rolled out to great response, but virtually every song received accolades from the sold-out crowd. A well rounded night out, then, with some of the newest up-and-coming talent.