I’ve been to a lot of shows and I’ve met a lot of cool people in 2014, but one of the coolest persons I’ve met is a woman who I’ll call Ms. Rose. We both work in the music industry, and it just happened to work out that whenever either of us had an extra ticket for a show, the other just happened to be available to go. Well, the ball’s in my court now as she, thankfully, invited me to check out night one of KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas concert at The Fabulous Forum.
I grew up with KROQ. In high school, during the early 90s, KROQ introduced me to a lot of music that really opened up my ears. Nirvana. Pearl Jam. Blink 182. Those were just some of the bands I discovered through KROQ’s radio programs. Even though KROQ had played such an integral part of my musical evolution, this concert would be the first KROQ sponsored event that I’d attend.
After I heard all the reviews about how terrible about KROQ’s Weenie Roast was this year, I particularly impressed with this year’s lineup. For night one, Royal Blood, New Politics, Walk The Moon, Rise Against, Bush, Incubus, Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park and System of A Down were on the bill. Christmas came early, and the name of Santa’s little helper was Ms. Rose.
We got to the venue a little late, and caught the tail end of Royal Blood’s set. That was a little bit of a bummer because they were a band that I had heard a lot of good things about, and regretfully missed at the Troubadour earlier this year. So I missed one band … I still had 8 more on the list.
The first band we caught was New Politics, an indie rock trio from Denmark. Energetic and boisterous, this band brought as much swagger to the stage given the early time-slot. Definitely a band whose music tows the rock-pop genre, their music has always seemed a little safe to me. Maybe their live show compensates for the safety of their sound, but their front-man’s on-stage flips and urging of their fans to go “ape-shit” seemed a little bit of a mismatch for the type music that they were offering.
Ms. Rose tugged on my shirt when the lead singer took his shirt off and whispered, “He stripped last year too,” adding a, “he kinda looks like my ex-husband” note. Cue my eye-rolls here. LOL.
The band was fun, and bearable, but would I ever want to pay to see them headline? I’m not sure. Their set had a few covers, notably the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”, but the covers were mediocre at best. I’m of the opinion that if you are going to cover “classics”, you better kill that shit. It goes without saying that I wasn’t too impressed.
Walk the Moon is a band that I’ve been meaning to check out for a few years. Their third album released in 2013, “Talking Is Hard”, is a solid indie-rock dance album. Some people may compare their music to Phoenix, Foster the People or Bastille, but I’ve always thought they had a bit more of an Erasure edge than the foregoing bands mentioned. Oh … and if you don’t know who Erasure is, I bet you were born in the late-nineties.
Solid band. Solid performance. As long as these guys keep making good music, there’ll always be an audience for their sound.
Rise Against was the next band up, but my stomach was begging me for some food, so I decided to hit up the concession stand and also make a pit-stop at the merchandise booth. All of the good merch was already sold out, and the food was overpriced and not so satisfying … was it worth missing a band play? Probably not.
I got back to my seat as Rise Against finished up. Can’t really comment on their set as I missed almost all of it. Total bummer.
The next band to be revealed with the rotating stage was Bush. I always thought that was a funny name for a band … Bush … Bush … he he he he ß totally juvenile giggle.
I remember when “Sixteen Stones”, their debut album, was released in 1994. It was grungy enough for dudes to get down with, and the lead singer, Gavin Rossdale, was sexy enough that girls who wouldn’t normally be into grunge were suddenly fans of the genre. When the band played “Machinehead”, a sudden wave of nostalgia came over me, and I immediately thought to myself, “Damn, I’m old.”
There was some technical difficulties during Bush’s performance of their latest single (the amps went out) but, like the veterans the were, the played through the song till conclusion. Their loyal fans sang a bit louder to compensate for the technical snafu, and that was great to see/hear.
There were two odd moments in during the set. First, Bush covered Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” An unexpected grunge version of the ubiquitous pop-song, I thought it was a pretty daring move … but was it really a good move for a KROQ event? It probably would have played better at a KIIS FM Jingle Ball event. Second, there was a mosh pit for Bush. Umm … who the fuck mosh-pits to Bush? That was a first.
The next band up was Fall Out Boy. I wanted so bad to see Fall Out Boy when they were on tour with Paramore this past year. I’ve been a fan of Fall Out Boy’s music since “Evening Out With Your Girlfriend”. Though some of their latest fare, in my opinion, hasn’t been as strong as their older material, there’s not dispute that their songs “Short, Fast and Loud”, “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose (But I’m Gonna Give It My Best Shot), “The Pros and Cons of Breathing” and practically all of their songs from “From Under The Cork Tree”) are songs that I enjoy listening too whenever they come up on my iTunes.
Perhaps not as youthful as I anticipated they would be (it’s probably because this is the first time I’ve seen them play live since they started up over a decade ago), they were about as emo-pop/punk as I could anticipate.
Like several of the other bands before them, they covered a song, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. It was fun, but I would have preferred “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago” over it.
The final three bands closing night one of Almost Acoustic Christmas were California based. The first California band to play: Incubus. Oh man. I have been DYING to see this band live for years. They played the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago, and I kicked myself for not going to that gig.
There’s something about Incubus’ music that always gets me going. From “Nice To Know You” , “Drive”, “Pardon Me”, “Wish You Were Here” … those were all hits that, while I was on the east coast for college, reminded of California. Any you know what? They played them all during their 9 song set at Almost Acoustic Christmas.
The girls went nuts for Brandon Boyd, the lead singer. As soon as his shirt came off, Ms. Rose had to point out, with a mischievous grin on her face, “He’s getting naked.” When he took a audience member’s foam “glow stick” and put it down his pants, she grabbed my arm and exclaimed, “If that does on EBay, I’m going to bid on it.” Brandon Boyd … the instigator of total chick frenzies.
Incubus, like many of the bands before them, also played a cover, but it was a cover that wasn’t trying to be cool. It was a cover of an obscure song from a the movie musical “Popeye” sung by Shelley Duvall called “He Needs Me.”
They played a new song called “Trust Fall” from their forthcoming album. I, for one, can’t wait to hear what other music they have in store for us.
I’ve always had an on again, off again, relationship with Linkin Park. Their music always seemed to try too hard for my liking, but over the years, after their collaboration album with Jay Z, and Chester Bennington’s foray into “legit” alternative rock with Stone Temple Pilots, my opinion of what Linkin Park has offered the musical spectrum has softened a bit.
Linkin Park’s opened with a DJ set by Joe Hahn, accompanied by cool lighting effects. From the mist, Chester came on stage to roar into the first song of the set. That dude can certainly belt it out.
Performing a set list of “greatest hits”, and even throwing in a Fort Minor song, Linkin Park’s raucous performance brought the crowd to a frenzy. A highlight of their performance, and also a foreshadow of what was to come, the brought System of a Down guitarist Daron Malakian on stage to play “Rebellion”.
System of a Down, having recently announcing their tour dates for the 2015 “Wake Up The Souls” tour, made their first and only performance of 2014, and first since 2013, as the finale for Almost Acoustic Christmas.
I’ve always been intrigued by System of a Down’s music. Their thrash metal which incorporated middle-eastern musical elements, with lyrics often times politically charged, was music that I could always relate to. Through their music, you can hear and feel their passion. Their live show was no different.
Though Serj Tankian doesn’t do flips on stage, or prance around like other front-men, his presence on stage is unmistakable. His lyrical eloquence and the bands musical ingenuity clearly sets the bar high for bands trying to make a name for themselves in the heavy/alternative metal genre. A highlight of their set was when they invited a recipient of a “Make A Wish” foundation wish play with them on stage for a song. Their next gig is at the Forum in April. I hope tickets haven’t sold out yet.