Channeling the ’90s at Irvine’s FivePoint Amphitheatre

William Duvall of Alice in Chains serenades the crowd with an awe-inspiring performance of “Rooster” from the band’s signature album “Dirt.” (Dylan Robinson/Lariat)

The FivePoint Amphitheatre is a temporary music venue constructed in Irvine, California by Live Nation Entertainment. Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster in 2010 to form a larger conglomerate hosting the venue operating and event promotion traits of the former and the ticketing purchasability of the latter.

With these skills in tow, the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre closed in 2016 after 36 years of shows to later reform as the FivePoint Amphitheatre to deliver further entertainment for the masses of Orange County. While the FivePoint venue was only locked in for a temporary three years in 2016, a permanent location is looking to be opened in the Orange County Great Park to continue the Meadows’ enduring legacy.

The last week of August hosted many great ’90s bands covering the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Korn and half of Oasis in the form of Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. Beyond the legacies set before the bands themselves, seeing the enormous crowds in the audience rise for each and every performance as beloved songs were played before them was astonishing as nearly every seat had been filled in the 12,000 occupancy venue as the sun set behind the Irvine hills.

The Smashing Pumpkins and Korn were the main events on their respective nights of Thursday the 29th and Friday the 30th, yet it was still impressive to see how much reverence was paid towards both Noel Gallagher and Co. and Alice in Chains. Alice in Chains in particular had been the reason to go for myself on Friday and seeing them in all their glory shredding through the now-iconic riffs grinding off Jerry Cantrell’s intricately designed guitar was a sight to behold, and the crowd echoed this view.

Never have I seen such a crowd intent on hearing out every snare beat or bass pluck emanating from the stage. A passion carried through all four performances as stomps in the bleachers mimicked drum fills and lyrics chimed in from every angle. Enthusiasm rang all throughout the venue when teasing melodies were played prior to the Pumpkins walking out on stage with many cheering at the just the slight mention of the beginning riff to one of their most beloved songs, “Zero.”

Even when smooth exit was on the line from the parking lot that can usually rally traffic by the end of the night, fans lingered long after the first set was done in hopes of obtaining an encore only to have their wishes granted. One feeling FivePoint captured immensely well was just how well it emulated the era from which all these bands arose with its tailgate toleration out in the parking lot to tiny stands selling tour shirts and, in my experience, witnessing men projectile vomit upon the green lawn right before your eyes as you are trying to leave the venue early.

The FivePoint never ceased amazement. Fans of Korn continued this raging spirit by all standing up from their seats as the set began yelling, screaming and virtually clawing for more after each and every song they ripped through, showing no signs of age past the time they were most successful.

With the ferocity and vigor of such an audience gracing Alice in Chains and Korn that night, anyone could have believed they were at the peak of their career by that point and no one would have shamed them for believing so.

Moreover, Noel Gallagher insisted Dave Grohl, of Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame, could “come up onstage and suck [his] f***cking d*ck anytime he likes” in response to Grohl rallying fans at the Reading Festival the previous week to sign a petition getting Gallagher’s previous band, Oasis, back together. This moment right here encapsulated many a heart in the audience right before Gallagher and Co. continued on with their set playing Oasis tunes and really showcased just how the carefree nature of the ’90s had been sealed within that venue for a solid 48 hours.

Atmosphere is second to music at a concert of course, yet with the visceral feel lent to the venue by these four acts, it truly felt like being transported back to the ’90s. Never having experienced the era myself and only going off of what was seen in YouTube videos snapshotting a funny concert bit or incredible set, these two days encompassed maybe not what the era was entirely like, but more so what I imagine it to be.

The FivePoint Amphitheatre itself may be temporary, but the memories it imparted those two nights were nothing short of exemplary in showcasing some of the finest talent of a decade along with a roaring, fervent crowd to match.