Concert review: Pointfest 2023 feat. Incubus, Coheed & Cambria, The Pretty Reckless, and more | 05.27.23, Hollywood Casino Ampthitheatre (with photo gallery—over 100 photos!)

Photo of Coheed & Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez by Erica Vining

When I spotted the lineup for Pointfest last year, I immediately sold my Sum 41 and Simple Plan tickets, snagged a super-overpriced hotel room, and made all the plans to rock out with some stellar bands. As anyone else who attended that day knows, it was an absolute nightmare. The weather reared its ugly head and despite pushing gates back again…and again…and again, ultimately the day was destined for failure thanks to Mother Nature. I wasn’t about to waste a St. Louis trip, so I repurchased my Sum 41 tickets at four times what I paid initially, and ended up having a great night with friends. Alas, when the lineup for this year dropped, I needed redemption. 

This was my first Pointfest, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with the stage setup. I was pleasantly surprised to find the “Point White” and “Point Black” stages side by side. Most festivals I cover require near-sprinting to side stages and once I hit 30, I found sprinting to be a near death experience every time. I started my lineup with St. Louis-based band Inimical Drive, and what a great opener for the day. I’ll admit typing—and saying—that name has been a challenge for me but I think I’ve finally mastered the spelling. I consider myself one with a decent vocabulary but I had to head to google to look up the meaning of inimical—“to obstruct or harm; hostile.” How metal.

Inimical Drive (ID) brought insane the energy to the Point White stage. Hailing from St. Louis, they appeared well-loved by fans who packed in the space to support the band. The band formed like many others who have found success—in their buddy’s basement circa 2002. ID has a unique sound which is amplified by their use of two bassists. Instrumentally, they sound similar to Sevendust, but their vocalist gives me love-child-of-Sully-Erna-from-Godsmack-and-Daniel-Laskiewicz-of-Bad-Wolves vibes. A friend who was with me heard more M. Shadows, so I’d caution you to check out the band and make your own decisions. Nailing down a vocal similarity was different from song to song, as vocalist Joel Colby has a decidedly unique voice with a lot of variances through the set. ID is currently finishing up their OTEP tour and will be headed back on the road in July with a large band that has yet to be announced.

I followed up ID’s set with UK band Tigercub, and I was probably most excited for this set. Tigercub has been making the rounds on SXM Octane recently with their hit “The Perfume of Decay,” and the intro riff to this track is unforgettable. Seriously, if you appreciate instrumental ingenuity at all, you need to check out this song. The trio just finished up a headlining tour in the US, filling their off days as support for Badflower on their own headliner. Tigercub is more grunge than heavy metal, with electronic elements woven in and a decidedly unique sound setting them apart from other popular bands currently. The personality of each member shines bright with eclectic outfits and endearing personality. Bassist Jimi Wheelwright and I chatted a bit prior to the set with him encouraging me to just “blag” my way through—that was the second time I had gone to google for a definition that day. Blagging my way through the set paid off with some great shots you can check out in the gallery below!

Des Rocs hit the Point White stage right at 2:30, and although it wasn’t my first time seeing them, it was a memorable show all around. The wardrobe of Daniel Rocco and his touring members would make even the most fashionable in attendance drool. Rocco’s “swag” reminds me of Weathers, whom we caught at Halo Bar a few months ago, the cool and collected confidence which commands your attention for the set. Although I wasn’t alive for the era of Elvis, I very much get Elvis vibes off the vocalist. Des Rocs has performed with several big names including Muse and the Rolling Stones, citing his individuality and strive to be unique as setting him apart.

Band-Maid followed Des Rocs, and I’ll admit I was wholly unfamiliar with this act before that very moment. Taking the stage in full costume, the five women who hail from Japan absolutely commanded attention. There was no walking away or catching the set from the back—if you were there, you were listening. Each member donned a different maid costume, and each individual personality shone through. Band-Maid may have put on the most energetic and downright chaotic set of the day; movement, music, mayhem—it held my attention start to finish despite the predominantly Japanese lyrics. Consider me a member of the Maid-iacs after that set.  

I took a little break to recover following Band-Maid’s set, returning to catch Badflower on the Point Black stage an hour later. I’ve been a fan of Badflower for a while now, and I’ve been trying to shoot their show for nearly as long so this set was a treat. Vocalist Josh Katz is known for his on-stage antics, although we didn’t see much of that at Pointfest. Stills from their current tour have found him hanging off ladders or being carried out on a couch eating bananas. Random, I know. Katz is known for leaning heavily into his mental health struggles for song inspiration, with songs like “Ghost” describing multiple suicide attempts, or “Family” which centers around a failing family dynamic, vulnerability, and pushing those you love away. The set was quick but spirited, and I think my favorite part was catching shots of bassist Alex Espiritu, whose energy was magnetic and brilliant to capture. I’ve seen Badflower four times now and I won’t say this was my favorite performance of theirs, but it was worth catching and I’m glad I was finally able to get some shots!

Moving to the main stage following Badflower, I was able to catch a seat and take in Bad Omens set. This band is arguably the fastest rising rock band on the scene currently, with shows selling out in under a minute and fans paying near Taylor Swift resale prices. I’ve been lucky enough to catch Bad Omens a few times now and, like Badflower, I don’t think this was their strongest performance. Vocalist Noah Sebastian seemed tired, and the crowd was in a similar state. I’m not sure if the long day in the sun had zapped the energy of the crowd, but it was easily the most subdued Bad Omens show I’ve been to. Despite all of this, the band played through a solid set and Sebastian interacted with the crowd through a fog blasting gun, which was well received. I’m catching them again in September in an indoor venue and I’ll report back on that show after!

Cindy Lou Who Taylor Momsen took the stage following Omens with her band The Pretty Reckless. Since forming the band in 2009, Momsen (herself a native of St. Louis) has worked hard to separate herself from her childhood acting career, and after this set I’d agree she has been successful. If I closed my eyes and listened to the impassioned speaking between tracks, I’d swear Maria Brink was on the stage. Her tone and presentation rival the metal queen, and I’d love to catch the two on a tour together. Momsen has a dynamic vocal range that commands attention. The show focuses a lot on Momsen’s sexual prowess and the power of female sexuality, which I appreciated but also set up for some awkward moments. During the intro to “Follow Me Down,” I was worried someone had propelled me back to my teenage years turning on “HBO After Dark” and hoping my parents didn’t catch me. The heavy moaning seemed to go on for quite a while, with a few parents around me covering their children’s ears. Overall, I enjoyed this set and would catch The Pretty Reckless again if they came to town.  

Just before 8:00, Coheed and Cambria took the stage and propelled me straight back into my bedroom in 6th grade headbanging and piling on black eyeliner as thick as my eyes could hold. Vocalist/guitarist Claudio Sanchez and his glorious hair are a core memory for me, and seeing him onstage for the second time this year was an absolute treat. Although he is often pictured with his double neck guitar, his use of explorer models could not be missed during the set. I think I counted at least 3 different explorers, each more beautiful than the next. Sanchez’s voice is arguably one of the most unique in the progressive rock genre, which is how Coheed have managed to stay relevant for decades at this point. The set was nostalgic, opening with “The Embers of Fire” and closing with their classic hit “Welcome Home.” I went home that night and used an entire stick of eyeliner just to feel like I was 16 again…then I iced my knees and propped up my swollen feet because my 32-year-old body laughed in my face.

Incubus closed out the night of nostalgia, and the day could not have ended any better. I had just caught the band two weeks before at Daytona’s Rockville festival so I knew my favorites were woven in mid-set instead of making me wait until the very end. I’ll admit I was pretty sad when “Megalomaniac” didn’t work its way in as it’s my all-time favorite Incubus song and was played mid-pack at Rockville. I ended up sticking around for the encore and the guys came through, playing “Megalomaniac” and “Drive” to close the night. I wasn’t able to shoot this set, so I got to enjoy it from the lawn with the tired but engaged crowd, which was a treat in itself. With perfect weather and a crowd who was just the right amount of rowdy, the set was the ending we all deserved after Pointfest 2022. | Erica Vining

One comment

  1. I’m reading this in April 2024, and Band-Maid just dropped their collaboration song with Incubus’s Mike Einziger, called “Bestie”. The Maids are also opening for Incubus in Japan on May 1.

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