Attention Fest 2022 Hosted By Wiretap Records Was a Great Showcase for Rising Rock Bands

IRVINE, CA – I had the privilege of going to check out Attention Fest which is an annual festival put on by Wiretap Records to showcase many of the incredibly talented bands on their record label.

This year showcased several Southern California favorites such as The Last Gang (recently signed to Fat Wreck Chords), Bristol to Memory, Odd Robot, Taken Days and Codename: Rocky, among others, as well as Las Vegas’s own Mercy Music and Salt Lake City’s Wicked Bears.

I will say that this was quite literally my favorite concert of the year for the simple reason that all of these bands were awesome, there to have fun, and everyone that attended was pretty cool to meet and hang out with as well.

Wiretap Records founder Rob Castellon puts in a ton of work to bring bands that he likes out to the public, and I will just say that without disrespecting anyone else’s label (because there are a ton of great ones that I like out there), I think Wiretap is putting out the best music by some of the best bands in the U.S. right now.

Unfortunately, due to some travel issues with Frontier Airlines, I missed a few of the performances early on including Little Low, Sweet Gloom, Regan Ashton (solo set - front man of Problem Daughter), and most of the Rundown Kreeps set. 

I showed up right as they were playing their last two songs, which were great, and I highly recommend check out all these bands as well. You definitely SHOULD check out Rundown Kreeps new album RDK as well. We even did a review of it on our blog.

I apologize for having missed your sets.

The first full set that I did get to see was from Joker’s Hand, an alternative rock band from Los Angeles, and they did not disappoint. They had energy, they had great songs, and they seemed to be having fun despite the fact that the weather was a bit gloomy and drizzly.

Joker’s Hand played through about 10 songs from what I could tell including one that I particularly liked called “Devil’s Nest” that is uptempo and anthemic as hell. The chorus will get you hooked on the first listen for sure.

Up next was one of the bands I had previously seen live, Taken Days. This Orange County band is a pop-punk trio that is tight and succinct and really talented. It’s a bad that gives Blink-182 vibes as both the guitarist, Brent Waterworth, and bassist, Corey Glockner, sing, and drummer Landon Asbury definitely can unleash on the drums.

They played a slew of some of their more popular songs including closing with their most streamed song “How’d It Come to This” which they also have a pretty rad music video for (click here to see that).

L.A. punk band Upper Downer came next, and they ripped as I expected after having recently reviewed their new album No Refills Left just a few weeks ago.

The band has an old school punk sound to it that may not be the typical SoCal sound as front man Chris Kehoe is originally from New York, and that definitely bleeds into their sound.

I would absolutely tell anyone who is willing to listen that Upper Downer is a band worth checking out whether they are telling cops to go kick rocks or talking about how Teachers and Preachers are the devils that we need to address, they shred.

After them came Salt Lake City’s scrappy punk band Wicked Bears. These guys were ultra fun with their goofy brand of stage banter, and their incredibly likable personalities, it was easy to just rock out to their well-crafted songs. 

The songs range from comedic to melancholic, and sometimes both at the same time. This is another band that relies on the power trio lineup with dual singers, and it works really well.

I think my favorite song that the band sang was their song about writing a hypothetical love song called "Hypothetically." It definitely showcases their sense of humor.

That was by no means their only good song though, and they have a new record coming in the next few months that will be released on Wiretap. So, keep an eye out for that.

Fullerton, California favorites Odd Robot jumped on stage next just in time for the rain to start sputtering up a bit, but that didn’t mean that this music making machine was going to rust and malfunction…okay, I am done with the robot puns now.

These guys absolutely killed it. I hadn’t had the chance to see them before, but I was pretty shocked at why they are not a much more famous band playing decent sized venues across the country. I guess that’s the downside to being a band in California where there are bands everywhere.

But I was super impressed with all of their songs, and I was telling lead singer Andy Burris that while their recorded music is great, their live show adds an extra layer of awesomeness to the experience.

I would recommend going to see Odd Robot play whenever you possibly can. Hell, that goes for pretty much every band on this label and at this fest.

Now, one band that I had only had the chance to listen to for a few songs leading up to the concert was Bristol To Memory, and boy was that a mistake on my part.

I should have been listening to their music non-stop so I could have belted out all the songs while they played, because they truly are a highly thoughtful band with great sound and lyrics. I would compare them to other bands, but honestly, I think if I did, that would ruin the experience for someone on their first listen.

I would just say, “Go listen to Bristol To Memory right now.” 

I even got the chance to speak with lead singer and guitarist, Rory O’Connell, a bit later in the evening and had a good chat over a beer. He’s a super cool dude as well as an awesome musician.

Codename: Rocky who hails from Pico Rivera, California brought their ska-punk sounds to the stage next. Fully equipped with multiple horn players, the band brought energy, swagger and skankin’ good times to their set.

They definitely got some enthusiasm from the crowd who started a bit of a “circle pit” but, you know, in the skanin’est way possible.

The band has had a bit of a whirlwind history, but they are back in full force and releasing new music these days. So, make sure to check them out if you like punk or ska, and like a good samaritan who sees trash on the street, “Pick it up, pick it up.”

Mercy Music, Las Vegas’s shiniest beacon of punk/indie/pop rock, took the stage next, and while I have seen Mercy Music play about 6 or 7 times now, I thought this was the best show they have put on yet. 

Of course, the band disagreed with me as they saw it as problematic due to a couple of mistakes in the set that they were still conscious of afterwards. At one point, lead singer Brendan Scholz even said, “Come see us again, and maybe we’ll play better next time.”

However, I don’t think a SINGLE member of the crowd noticed anything going awry – including me, and I know the music and lyrics to most of their songs. The only one mistake I recall was when drummer Rye Martin started to play the wrong song for a couple of beats before Scholz and bassist Jared Cooper had to mention he was looking at the wrong song on the setlist. 

But, to be honest, that happens with A LOT of bands, and no one cares. It sort of shows that the band is human. Also, they just recently shuffled up their set for this show, and they even added one of my absolute favorite songs, “Tell Me I’m Wrong” into their set. A song that builds to an incredibly anthemic chorus.

I urge you to check out that song…seriously, go do it when you have some time!

Last up was The Last Gang who now technically reside in the Fat Wreck Chords camp as their latest album Noise Noise Noise was picked up by that label for release last year, but that didn’t stop them from keeping their commitment to playing Attention Fest and having a lot of fun with the remaining audience who was still rocking out at the start of their set.

I caught up with guitarist Ken Aquino who I had the pleasure of hanging out with last year in Vegas when they opened for Teenage Bottlerocket at Dive Bar. It was good to speak with him, and at the end of the night got to talk to a few more of the band members including lead singer Brenna Red.

They always put on a good show and having seen them 3 times now, I can say that they are one of the tightest sets on stage and with songs like “We Fucked The World” and “Gimme Action” they can definitely hype up a crowd as well.

I am a huge fan of Wiretap Records and everything they do there, and I can’t wait to see what else is coming down the pipeline. I highly recommend following them and checking out all their bands as I have not seen a single bad release yet. 

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