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Beach Ball fest delivers many flavors of rock and pop

Rivers Cuomo, lead singer with Weezer, performed Friday at the Buzz Beach Ball at Sporting Park.
Rivers Cuomo, lead singer with Weezer, performed Friday at the Buzz Beach Ball at Sporting Park. Special to The Star

Like the gigantic beach balls that bounced over the crowd throughout the evening, the music bounded from one style to the next for more than eight hours at Sporting Park on Friday night.

The annual end-of-summer Beach Ball, presented by radio station KRBZ (96.5 FM), known as the Buzz, featured 12 bands on two stages set at opposite ends of the infield. Heavy rains drenched fans watching the early sets, including a performance by the New Zealand duo Broods, who drew rave reviews afterward.

By the time the Mowgli’s took the main stage at 6 p.m., the skies had cleared, the temperature had dropped significantly and many of the attendees were bracing themselves against the chill, especially those who’d been rained on.

The Mowgli’s are a seven-piece from Southern California, featuring lead singer Colin Dieden, a Kansas City native. Their music is indie-pop/rock delivered with energy and ebullience and with lots of percussion and multi-part vocals, evidenced in songs like “Say It, Just Say It” and “San Francisco,” two of several crowd favorites.

At the second stage, Bear Hands, a quartet from New York, followed the Mowgli’s. Their music is a blend of indie-rock and dance pop. They played their hit “Giants,” which vocalist Dylan Rau said was written about a former girlfriend from Prairie Village. It opens with the line: “Two words. Rock. Chalk. Shot a Jayhawk,” which aroused a mix of cheers and jeers from the crowd.

Following their set, the British band the 1975 took over the main stage, drawing one of the largest crowds of the evening. (The stadium looked a little more than half full.) Their music is a blend of anthemic British rock and pop and synth pop, and if it sounds derived from any decade, it would be the 1980s. It’s all invigorating and a bit melodramatic, thanks to the rock star antics of lead singer Matt Healy. He gave it his all during “Sex,” his band’s most popular song.

The electronic act Big Data performed next on the second stage. Their set included a cover of Hall and Oates’ “Private Eyes” and their own hit, “Dangerous,” featuring vocalist Daniel Armbruster of Joywave.

Fireworks lit the sky outside the stadium as Weezer took the main stage to the roar of a large crowd. They opened with “My Name Is Jonas,” the lead track from their debut studio album, “Weezer” (or “The Blue Album”).

They kept the momentum going with other hits and favorites: “Hash Pipe,” “Perfect Situation,” the pop-metal anthem “Troublemaker,” the sunny pop ditty “Island in the Sun,” “Beverly Hills,” “Dope Nose,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “Back to the Shack,” “Surf Wax America,” “Pork and Beans” and the song that stirred one of the loudest ovations of the night, “Buddy Holly.”

Several times during the set, lead singer Rivers Cuomo played cheerleader, arousing even more enthusiasm from the crowd.

Meg Myers, a singer/songwriter from Los Angeles (via Nashville) closed the second stage with a set of gothic, foreboding rock anthems. Myers draws comparisons to Fiona Apple because of the darkness in her songs, but her music sounds more influenced by the dynamics of grunge and female rockers of that era, like Alanis Morissette, which can be discerned in songs like “Desire.”

At the main stage, the Arctic Monkeys closed the evening with a 70-minute set of their manic blend of dance rock and indie rock with a slight punk accent. The set included favorites like “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” “Arabella,” “Brianstorm,” “Crying Lightning,” “Knee Socks,” “All My Own Stunts” and the effervescent “Fluorescent Adolescent.”

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.

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