After a long day of working for the man, really the last thing I want to do is to drive an hour-and-a-half to a venue in Long Beach to see a bunch of bands that I have no discernable desire to see.  But being the wonderful individual that I am, and not one to squelch on a guest list spot, I made my way down to the Long Beach Arena to take part in the annual Taste of Chaos showcase.  This year’s bill featured the Used, 30 Seconds to Mars, Saosin, Senses Fail, Evaline, Aiden, and the fabulous Chiodos brothers. 

Negotiating traffic, finding parking, and exodus-ing toward the entrance with the horde of prepubescent idiots in which I was entrenched, I checked in and made my way into the venue.  Making my way past the gathering congregation (I guess Evaline was just finishing as I entered, one of the bands I was actually looking forward to seeing), I checked into the press area to see my friends and find out what was going on.  The press area had a Rockstar Energy Drink bar, complete with bartender serving up vodka-laced concoctions and libations, probably to keep the press in the lounge drinking while Aiden provided another buzz-killing performance, even for this straight edge reviewer you enjoy so much.

Once that was over with, I noticed the Chiod-ers were grouping behind the stage, about to go on.  As I was being hailed by the band to join them on stage, I heard my name being yelped at me from behind.  I turned around to find the fabulous and famous Will “Fuckin’” Evans making his way toward your humble narrator.  Realizing it was too late to get onstage, I joined Will and company in the main floor area and engaged in the excited furor, as the Easter Bunny took the stage to announce the group. 

If you have ever seen Chiodos play a show—most notably on last year’s Warped Tour — you will have undoubtedly seen their mascot gorilla/bunny/troll/wizard take the stage and announce the group.  If you have had the overwhelming pleasure of meeting the individual behind these characters, you’ll find Dave…the Canadian.  Dave is probably better known for his time as merch man for the illustrious Boys Night Out; but I know him and love him as the singer and genius behind the hit Canadian group, Simcoe Street Mob. 

After his soliloquy, the lights went dim and Chiodos took the stage.  Watching a band such as this rise to towering heights is really awe-inspiring and inspirational.  The first encounter I had with the band was when our tours converged in Reno, Nevada, and we played an earth-shattering show for all of ten people.  Fast-forward about seven months, the last tour I did with my crappy band was with Chiodos and Calico System (now The Calico System), wherein we played night after night of sold-out shows and watched as Chiodos became one of the biggest bands in the genre today.  Their stellar live performance, complete with sing-a-long’s that were more boisterous than the ones the headliner attempted, was so good that to follow them would be akin to following the London Philharmonic…with Jessica Simpson.

Other bands played that night; I’m sure, to their fans, Saosin and Senses Fail were incredible.  To me, they were utter crap.  Senses Fail ruined Warped Tour for me; listening to their off-key banter day after day destroyed any desire of mine to ever give them a chance in the future.  Then you have Saosin, the epitome of “Too little, too late”. 

Subsequent to a monumental first release, Translating the Name EP, the band dropped their claim to fame, singer Anthony Green, and released a severely disappointing major-label debut.  When their first CD came out, Orange County was abuzz with the songs, every CD player was blasting “Seven Years,” and kids would inhale helium and imitate Green every place you looked.  I haven’t heard, or heard mention of one song from their new album.  Guitarist Beau Burchell should really have stuck to producing, or undertaking the ten-year reunion tour of Kosmos Express. 

30 Seconds and the Used put on solid, archetypal sets that were decent…just missing the “Wow”-factor that they once possessed.  Oh, and Street Drum Corps needs to stop interrupting the Used with their so-called drumming; it’s very distracting.


Mark Johnston, a native Californian, has travelled the world with various circuses, sideshows, and arena rock tours. As a musical monkey he has delighted fans the world over. Upon his return, he has since founded the Atomsmashers Publishing Company, written 2 books in the company's Warm Horchata series, created a weekly comic strip based around LA's more "colorful" characters, written reviews, articles, and rantings under various pseudonyms; this has since culminated in Johnston being named Captain Fabulous by the Superhero Association of America.