Saturday night at the Pond was the place to be for SoCal modern rock fans, as Burbank radio station KROQ hosted its annual holiday festival featuring, as always, an impressive lineup of the genre’s stars. What they said and what they wore was almost as interesting as what they played.
The event is described as “almost acoustic,” but few of the acts adjusted their music in any kind of soft direction for the occasion. Instead, most of the on-hand talent, including such headliners as Bush, Oasis, Beck and Foo Fighters, banged out their hits as they would on any other evening. Ballads by Tori Amos and Fiona Apple were as close as the evening got to unplugged.
Kicking off the long show at 6 p.m., rising stars Powerman 5000 repped the night’s heaviest entry. Frontman Spider One is the brother of Rob Zombie (a last-minute addition to the bill himself), and he and his thundering bandmates gave a White Zombie-inspired performance revealing the band to be on the fast track for bigger things.
The entire concert was heard live on the radio and second act Save Ferris, an Orange County ska band, must have tested the patience of the FCC with an expletive-laced set. Next up was L.A. rap-rockers 311, whose melting-pot stylings were the most musically accomplished of the night. Singer Nick Hexum encouraged people to give orgasms for the holidays.
Much of the talk leading up to the show revolved around the appearance of Brit bad boys Oasis, who introduced a new lineup featuring two new members.
The band offered a straight-ahead, controversy-free five song set of older material, skipping for now any of the new songs found on the band’s upcoming fourth studio album.
Local kiddie punks Blink 182 drew some of the night’s loudest responses from the crowd, though they did manage to keep their clothes on for their entire set (fans still discuss their birthday suit perf at KROQ’s summer concert a few months back).
Rob Zombie and his ghoulish-looking bandmates played their comic-horror-metal songs dressed in Santa suits, though Rob was quick to reveal his Charles Manson T-shirt underneath. Spider One joined his brother for a fun version of White Zombie’s hit “Thunderkiss ’65.”
Former Nirvana member Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters played a workmanlike though effective seven-song set of pop-rock from their three albums, including a blistering “Monkeywrench.”
Brit rockers Bush closed the show, around midnight, in fine fashion, rolling out one alt-rock radio hit (“Everything Zen,” “Machinehead,” recent hit “The Chemicals Between Us”) after another. Singer Gavin Rossdale spent almost as much time surfing the crowd as he did treading the stage.
Such celebs as Keanu Reeves, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Gwen Stefani and George Wendt made appearances backstage. Proceeds from the 10th annual Almost Acoustic Christmas benefit the following charitable orgs: Para los Ninos, Children of the Night, and the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center.