With 25 bands on three stages playing against the backdrop of Fairfax County's (awesome!) new skate park, the Flipside Summafest promises to be a great way for area teens to blow off steam in the dog days before school resumes (bummer!).
Like previous Flipside events, this one stacks the deck with high-energy bands that plow the fertile fields of modern rock, embracing pop-punk, emo, ska, hardcore and other variations of aggressive guitar-and-drum-fueled sound.
The headline spot belongs to the quartet Midtown, whose recent Columbia CD, "Forget What You Know," is not the first one the band has released to national attention. In 2002, the band offered "Living Well Is the Best Revenge" on the small but well-regarded Drive-Thru label. They also toured the globe, including Japan and England's massive Reading Festival.
After a brief hiatus from the industry, the group reunited in Atlanta late last year to work with veteran producer Butch Walker (Avril Lavigne, Simple Plan, American Hi-Fi) on an album that, at the time, had no label support. With song titles such as "Empty Like the Ocean" and "Nothing Is Ever What It Seems," the new CD could be a downer, but even a track called "So Long as We Keep Our Bodies Numb We're Safe" offers a harmony-laden coda of near-elegiac beauty.
Army of Freshmen, who played a crowd-pleasing set at this spring's Flipside event, are also big in Japan. The band even released its sophomore CD, "Beg, Borrow, Steal" in that nation a few months before the CD appeared in the United States. With six members, including a keyboard player, AOF creates an expansive, bracing sound. The group has just finished a few dozen dates on the Warped Tour and will be heading to England next month, all without major label support.
Fairfax's 33 West also records and tours on its own terms. Together in their current lineup since 2000, these six good pals have spent the last three years on the road, sharing stages with Good Charlotte, Reel Big Fish, Sugarcult and more, as well as playing on the last two Warped Tours.
33 West recently released its first full-length album, "So Far Off to a Bad Start," which follows two EPs. The group wrote and produced the 16-song collection, though producer Jim Ebert, who has worked with SR-71, Meredith Brooks and Marvelous 3, added his skills on four tracks.
Hailing from various towns throughout Maryland, Underscore has been a staple of the local scene for the past two years, but it was only in January, after name and lineup changes, that the group solidified into its present form: Matthew Flyzik (vocals), Jason Tipton (bass), Phil Moy (guitar and vocals), Ryan Sherrill (guitar) and Paul Martinez (drums). The "new" group didn't waste any time, releasing a six-song set ("The Summer EP") in February and embarking on two recent East Coast tours. Underscore is now preparing a full-length release and planning a full U.S. tour for the fall.
Flipside veteran Common Effect, based in Reston, returns in a slightly modified form for this edition. Since drummer Zak Ruth will be out of town, the remaining trio plans an acoustic set with musical friends and possibly even fans from the crowd sitting in to round out the group's normally raucous sound.
Other acts on the bill include The Early November, Allister, Hidden in Plain View, Punchline, Stars Hide Fire, Driving East, Rude Buddha, Falls Church, Sound Riot, North Avenue, the Depotts, Sarcasm and Brand New Disaster.
-- MARIANNE MEYER
Wakefield Skate Park is at 8100 Braddock Rd. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. For tickets and other information, call 703-307-4969 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Web site is www.flipsidefestival.com.