Chill on the Hill 2014 Part II: Portugal. The Man, Sycamour, Grouplove, and The Bots

Aside from The Offspring, Portugal. The Man was basically the selling point of getting tickets to both days of Chill on the Hill. I had been waiting to see them live for years and it seemed that every time they were in town previously there was one reason or another as to why I couldn’t go. Not this time though.

Having never run into another PTM fan before, I was a bit surprised at how many other attendees seemed to be excited for their set to start. The pit went crazy as soon as they took the stage and jumped into “Hip Hop Kids”, erupting in a chorus of ‘Oooh’s’ that nearly drowned out John Gourley. Again, there wasn’t too much room on the stage between all the other bands’ gear to rock out but the guys did what they could with the little room that they had.

Everyone went crazy when “Modern Jesus” was closed out with the chorus from “The Nightman Cometh”, a song written one of the characters from the FXX comedy ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’, this time with the entire amphitheater joining and dancing along. That energy carried over throughout the rest of the set while they performed “Evil Friends” and a mashup of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2” and “Purple Yellow Red and Blue”. The short set was well worth the wait and made it clear that missing Portugal. The Man when they come into town is not an option.

After seeing a handful people sporting white doctor masks around throughout the day, I came to the conclusion that it had to be for one of the bands performing and not just because of a fear of germs. All was revealed when Sycamour took the small stage by storm with a small group of fans in the back sporting the same masks. As far as Sycamour’s sound, I would say it’s a mix of Escape the Fate, Panic! At the Disco, and The Used. The last part of the equation is specifically in Jeremy Gilmore’s voice which sounds like a perfect melding of Brendon Urie’s (PATD) and Bert McCracken’s (The Used) vocals.

I’m not sure how many people were there to see Sycamour in particular, but everyone packed in front of the small stage was very much enjoying their set, becoming a massive wave of movement throughout their short set. The band had just released a new record, Indulgence: A Saga of Lights, the week before and had centered their set around showcasing new tracks. Gilmore was all about getting the crowd involved as much as possible whether it was giving them some insight into the meaning of songs (most are about personal strife) or just trying to get them up and singing and we all know that I love when a lead singer that can get people moving. The crowd went particularly wild when the band covered Fall Out Boy’s “Dance, Dance” followed by a cover of “Kryptonite” from 3 Doors Down closing out their set. All in all I was pretty happy to have found Sycamour and I’d definitely check them out live again.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Grouplove’s newest album, Spreading Rumours, I was pretty excited to see them live. I’m happy to report their live show will not leave you disappointed. The group brings a lot of stage presence and energy to their set and is another band that makes it their goal to get the crowd as motivated and involved as possible. The pit had really started to fill in as well as the rest of the amphitheater clearly showing that I wasn’t the only one excited to get to see these guys perform.

There weren’t many songs that the crowd wasn’t singing and dancing as hard as they could to. Of course their big singles “Shark Attack”, “Itchin’ on a Photograph”, and “Tongue Tied” got the biggest reactions with buzz from the audience almost drowning out the band as they shouted along. “Shark Attack” was a song that I didn’t really care for upon first hearing it but it definitely grew to be one of my favorite tracks of the summer. Christian Zucconi’s random introduction to the song definitely made it a memorable experience. “I”m so afraid of sharks,” he admitted getting a huge reaction from the crowd for the song that was to come. “Have you ever had a shark brush your leg in the ocean or you thought it was a shark?” Zucconi’s random musings between songs made the show for me and the experience has me going back to give Spreading Rumours another listen.

I didn’t really have any expectations going into The Bots set. I had never heard anything from the two-piece band comprised of brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei before but as the rest of the day had gone great for new-to-me bands, I was excited to get to hear what they had to offer. What I got was a stomping, lo-fi rock experience. The brothers are definitely musically talented, young but capable of thrashing with the best of them. Most importantly, it looks like brothers are having fun with what they are doing which makes their live show that much better. They have a decent mix of The White Stripes and The Black Keys and at times sound like they came right out of the 70’s which is always a plus for me. Hearing them live and listening to them now as i write this, I’m definitely excited to see what these guys have coming next.

The crowd was growing more and more excited for the headliners of the day and so was I. Stay tuned for part III of our review which covers the headliners of day 1 for Chill on the Hill.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Chill on the Hill reviews:
Part I: Bristol Street, Sleeper Agent and My Goodness
Part III: Bad Religion, A Day To Remember, and The Offspring
Part IV: Hollow & Akimbo, Kyng, The Orwells, and Skaters
Part V: Brick + Mortar, USS, Taking Back Sunday, and Silverstein
Part VI: Chevelle, Awolnation, and Rise Against