Hits on the radio change every year, but we’ll always have the Kroq Weenie Roast.
The annual music-festival staple entered its 26th year on Saturday, boasting an impressive lineup that included Blink-182, Panic! at the Disco, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Dirty Heads, Rise Against, Mt Joy, James Bay, Awolnation and the War on Drugs. Following are some highlights from the one-day bash at the Stubhub Center in Carlson, Calif.
If Blink-182 is tired of playing its old hits, it doesn’t show. While the closing set of the night did include some of their new music — including “Misery,” right at the start — the band mostly rolled through crowd favorites from late ’90s and early ’00s. And while Blink, after about 20 years of touring, runs like a well-oiled machine, seeing the rock band is really more of a communal experience. Everyone knows the words to “What’s My Age Again,” right? (Another fun moment: Blink was introduced by “Kevin and Bean’s” Kevin Ryder and, randomly, Bob Saget, who “stalled” for the band by making “Fuller House” jokes and even offering to play their songs.)
The other headliner, Panic! at the Disco, wowed for the entirety of his roughly hour-long set. Brendon Urie rocked through a medley of career-spanning hits, from “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” to “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” — although the most memorable moment came with his rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He recorded the cover for the “Suicide Squad” soundtrack and has performed it live before, but nailed it once again at Weenie Roast, taking to the piano and hitting notes that would make any Queen fan’s jaw drop.
Some Tonal Changes
Dirty Heads, taking the main stage about midway through the day, is nothing if not a crowd-pleaser. Jared “Dirty J” Watson and Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell led the audience through feel-good hits like “All I Need” before a very different band took the stage: Rise Against. The Chicago-native band, too, amps up the crowd, but in a very different way: the crowd very quickly goes from gentle, breezy sways to all-out headbanging.
Enter Thirty Seconds to Mars right after that — a Weenie Roast 2018 addition so last-minute, it didn’t even make it on some of the programs at the event. Jared Leto plays something like an alt-rock deity, and it’s not just because of his hair: The Oscar-winner was overflowing with love for the audience throughout his set, as he called a “f—ing dance party” in the crowd, showered the audience with balloons, and called at least two dozens fans on stage to close it all out.
Brigg It On
In addition to being one of the catchiest rising voices on the radio in the past couple of years, Bishop Briggs is a force on stage. While there are flashes of Lorde in her performance style — particularly the occasional twitchy arm movements — Briggs has a style all her own, using the entire stage as she jumped around in a tracksuit to undeniable bops like “River” and “White Flag.” Manchester Orchestra helped open up the main stage just before Briggs, which also ended up being one of the most surprisingly exciting acts of the night. The indie rock band gave it all on tracks like “I’ve Got Friends” and “The Gold.”
Weenie Roast marked Mike Shinoda’s first solo performance since the 2017 death of his Linkin Park bandmate Chester Bennington, making for the most emotional set of the day. Shinoda paid special tribute to Bennington when he took to the keyboard to play a slowed-down version of “In the End” — the way it was originally intended to be played, he said — and encouraged the crowd to sing Bennington’s parts. “And you guys are going to keep making Chester proud, right?,” Shinoda asked as winded down, transitioning into a mashup of Fort Minor’s “Where’d You Go” and Linkin Park’s “Waiting for the End.” While it could have been somber, the performance came across more as cathartic, the crowd and Shinoda helping each other grieve Bennington.
Side stage sideshows
One of the biggest mistakes any festival-goer looking to get the biggest bang for their buck can make it to come just for the evening headliners. Often, the opening acts on the side stage can be some of the best of the day. Case in point: Nothing but Thieves and Alice Merton’s back-to-back sets. The former, a British import, helped start the day with some unique alternative rock tracks, and lead vocalist Conor Mason was downright charming as he grooved across the stage in half-unbuttoned overalls and even tossed a stray beer out to a lucky crowd member. Alice Merton, meanwhile, “Hit the Ground Running” right after the band while the aptly-titled song, and made the audience move under a dreary sky.