Alternative radio station 96.5 The Buzz hosted a hell of a party at Buzz Beach Ball. The annual summer festival returned to Sporting KC Park, bringing along a mountain of sand and a killer lineup for the 2015 show. All of the bands put on great performances – Glass Animals, Misterwives and Alt-J being some of the best – but Awolnation was the undisputed champion of the day. By knockout.
Despite a rain delay, distant thunder and oppressive heat, thousands came for the sold-out, all day festival of drinks, music and fun distractions. Between bands, fans milled about the stadium, played oversized beer pong and, of course, beach volleyball on the massive sand lot just outside of the venue. Ticketing was separated by seat admission and general field access, but there wasn’t a bad seat in the house and the bands could be heard clearly even outside the stadium.
Though Awol was not the headliner – that credit went to the British Alt-J – Awol took the stage late into the evening after night had fallen. With night came a welcome reprieve from the sweltering summer heat and when Awol crashed into electric crowd favorites like “Jump on My Shoulders” and “Kill Your Heroes”, the field came alive. Awol – famous for their impossibly catchy anthems and front man Aaron Bruno’s sometimes-soulful-sometimes-wailing vocals – delivered the incredible live performance that fans of the band have come to expect since the band’s inception several years ago.
Awol mostly kept to songs off of their first, much celebrated album, Megalithic Symphony. As mentioned above, the crowd went wild with moshing and surfing during the more energetic pieces and full lighters-and-cell-phones-in-the-air for the more moody “Sail”.
While the music was performed with passion and precision, the real highlight of Awol’s performance was Bruno’s vocals and showmanship. Bruno at times made himself a conductor of the entire crowd, encouraging them to pull out and light up their phones or crouch down and all leap up together. Bruno exercised his pipes’ dramatic range to full effect, fluctuating between silky-smooth and full-on screaming – the kind of all-out screaming that would leave anyone else apologizing to their friend the next day because they just can’t talk. But that kind of intensity is exactly what brought thousands to Sporting Park and what will surely fill the rest of the shows that Awol performs on the rest of their US and world tour.
Speaking of Awol’s tour, if you missed them at Beach Ball this year, don’t fret. Awol will be returning to Kansas City this November for a show at the beautiful Midland Theatre near Westport.
Written by Britt Batschke