It may have been post-Labor Day, but the sun and heat were in full swing for High & Low Fest's inaugural showcase. The one-day festival was held at the NOS Event Center in wonderful San Bernandino, California. For those unfamiliar with the location, it's roughly halfway between Orange County's beaches and the grand pools of Palm Springs. But, while the heat and humidity hung in the air, plenty of food and beverage stations made sure everyone was well prepared to battle the late-summer heat.

The festival consisted of both music performances and stand-up comedy. Due to time constraints, my focus was solely on the music. And let me tell you folks, I'm still reminiscing.

Kevin Devine kicked things off outside. And you can't call him, his band, and that early crowd anything but troopers. The sun was out for a direct hit. If it fazed Kevin Devine, I couldn't tell. He was too busy shredding through the sweat to pay it any bother. And his fans reciprocated by dancing and singing to songs, water bottles of course in-tow.

There's an almost innocent joy that comes out of witnessing so many fans for the early bands; whether it's die-hards who know every lyric or newbies who are just excited to hear some new live music. That same magic could be found during wunderkinds (Sandy) Alex G's set. They were on the indoor stage, which lent nicely to the psychedelic vibes and angsty-basement-set esthetic.

While the up and coming class were setting new standards, enough still can't be said about veterans like Andrew McMahon. This is a performer who knows exactly what the fans want. His sets are curated and artfully crafted to not only include the fans in the show theatrically but including fans of all iterations of his musical projects, past and present. His current lineup as Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness have the precision and grace every band aspires for. They set the stage for Andrew to climb all over his piano and crowd surf on an inflatable rubber ducky, all while he easily belts out those high notes, full diaphragm control.

The same can be said for Best Coast. While the surf rockers have maintained their indie status, their fan base is loyal to a "T". Bethany Cosentino knows not only what her fans want, but how they want it. When it came to the end of their set, Bethany announced they had three songs left. After a slight pause due to backstage murmuring, she then announced they actually only had one song left. She playfully asked the crowd what song they thought it would be.

"BOYFRIEND," the crowd erupted.

They were correct.

At some point in time, the indoor stage fell behind schedule. But that didn't stop the bands form powering through solid sets. Cloud Nothings brought out the noise and propulsive post-emo thrash. Maybe it was because of scheduling or maybe it was a way to really ignite the energy in their music, but many of the songs were played at a faster tempo than their recorded versions. This isn't a criticism, just an observation as I rarely consciously notice tempo changes like that on already bounding compositions. But as free-wheeling as their set was, those drums were on fucking point.

Outdoors, Tegan and Sara kicked off the nighttime festivities. The genuine love they have for their fans translates into a glittering, inclusive house party that relies on the back-and-forth dynamic between performer and attendee. This doesn't come from a polite humbleness. It's rooted in a true appreciation that others can connect through their music and want to be a part of the sister's story. PUP have a similar effect on their fans. While during the performance, there was less speaking to the crowd, the music was the only conversation needed. From the first guitar stroke, fans were jumping, moshing, and screaming along to every biting lyric. A lesser band wouldn't have the musicianship to pull off a set that thrashes but secretly nearly every note is carefully planned and applied to embolden each song.

The crème de la crème was, of course, Brand New. They are the patron saints of every angst-ridden, existential-dread-having human who also has an unshakeable belief in love. They are legends who have returned for another bout.

The band opened with Science Fiction's first track 'Lit Me Up' and delved into a catalogue spanning set. No matter how recent the song, it felt like everyone around knew every word, every subtle nuance of the melody. Brand New's importance spans beyond being fans of the music. The art is appreciated by music listeners and critics the world over. But the fans who were at High & Low- the fans who stood in the sun for six hours and staved off hunger and thirst by working together- appreciate what the art represents. As a casual enjoyer of their music, I can attest with some objectivity that their live show is better than the recording. It's all about your concept of intimacy. The draw of Brand New is they found a way to use their lives to speak on universal truths that should drive us apart but instead work to bring us together. And while one-on-one time with your records is always encouraged, the human aspect of a live show cannot be denied.

Hearing a sea of people sing in harmony is an inspired event. They all know their experiences are different, but that's exactly what allows them to connect. It's not about the experience, but the meaning and feeling behind it. The fans and band were able to capture something special that night. When Jesse Lacey came out for the encore, acoustic guitar in hand, there's no capturing that energy in a photograph. He played 'Soco Amaretto Lime' and let the crowd lament as their all-encompassing mantra, "They're just jealous 'cause we're young and in love."

Full disclosure, the only part of the set that irked some, was the cage for the first few songs. It's a rule that after the first three songs, photogs leave the front pit and are sent into the crowd. The cage was an incredible performance piece, but when it came to photographing the band, it set a challenge I was not equipped for. But that is also part of the beauty. Art must always come before the needs of press.

What made High & Low work so well was a knowledge that a slightly eclectic lineup can be cohesive. And while all the artists vocalized their mutual admiration of one another, festivals ultimately boil down to the fans. And that's why it went so smoothly. The bands not only have obvious crossover appeal/ intertwining fan bases, but they all have devout fans who can recognize and respect the fans of unfamiliar genres and acts.

It will be exciting to see High & Low Fest grow and change. One can only hope they will hold fast to that magic of the festival's debut. They have the opportunity to bring together fresh networks of artists and curate a festival that is truly all about the fan.