The 26th Annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas concerts returned to the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. on December 12th and 13th with two sold-out shows. With KROQ being the biggest alternative rock station in Southern California, and their annual Christmas concerts being one of the biggest shows of the year, the crowd is always very enthusiastic and highly energized, all night long, and this year was no exception.
The radio station’s multi-act bills are always an interesting balance of some of the biggest bands in rock and some of the newest, and it’s a great gauge for how much the past years’ bands have evolved. For example, when first night act Cage the Elephant first appeared on the annual KROQ line-up, they were on toward the beginning of the set and were much more unpolished. Since then, they’ve taken their psychedelic brand of alternative rock to a new level, and with new songs mixed with old, the crowd not only ate up every second of it, but they absolutely loved it.
Following their electric set was Twenty One Pilots, who have been very quickly on the rise over the last year. Their fans were probably the most vocal, singing along with frontman Tyler Joseph on hits like “Tear In My Heart” and “Stressed Out,” while he jumped around from his piano to the drum riser to various platforms.
Also on the first night’s line-up, X Ambassadors, AWOLNATION (joined by Duff McKagan on guitar), Silversun Pickups and Bastille all had stellar sets that proved why they’ve become radio and music fan favorites. The most fun set of the night (and that goes for any bill that they’re on) was Weezer, whose songs are so undeniably catchy that you can’t help but sing and dance along.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (whose previous bands were Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin) and James Bay kicked things off for the second night, with promising sets that really highlighted their singer/songwriter talent and their ability to connect with their audience. Elle King really kicked things up a notch with her sassy brand of rock and soul that contains just the right amount of sexy growl. Her hit single “Ex’s & Oh’s” feels like it’s been played on repeat this year, and yet no one is sick of hearing it.
Local bands The Neighbourhood and Cold War Kids owned the stage and the crowd, and Panic! At The Disco were the showmen they’ve become known for, even tackling the Queen track “Bohemian Rhapsody” with a confidence that not many other bands could.
After a powerful set by Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell, who turned in the only acoustic set of the night and included a poignant version of “Imagine,” which holds so much weight with the current state of the world, Of Monsters and Men took the stage. The Icelandic band has continued to grow as musicians and songwriters, and the possibility of what’s to come next is as exciting as the great songs that they’ve already written.
Much like Weezer did on night #1, Fall Out Boy closed out night #2 with an enthusiastic set of hit after hit after hit. After taking a couple years apart, before reuniting to write together again, the band regrouped and sound as reinvigorated as ever, running back and forth and all around.
Altogether, it was a great two nights of music that will prove a lot to live up to in 2016.