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KROQ’s ‘Almost Acoustic Christmas’ in review

Tyler Joseph (vocals) and Josh Dun (drums) of Twenty One Pilots performing at KROQ

KROQ has boasted a wide selection of rock music for the last four decades, and last weekend’s “Almost Acoustic Christmas” proved just how flexible the genre of rock can be. Acts ranged from classic alternative rock band, Weezer, all the way to deep house duo, Disclosure, but that only added to the excitement of a sold-out Night One.

Although Disclosure has radio singles featuring big name artists such as Sam Smith and Lorde, the duo just couldn’t maintain good energy from behind their soundboard, and in result, played their set to a half empty venue.

Weezer’s set, just before Disclosure, had older fans feeling as though they were back in their teens with classic hits like “Island In The Sun” and “Say It Ain’t So.” Lead singer, Rivers Cuomo caught the attention of newer fans by bringing Aaron Bruno of AWOLNATION on stage to sing guest vocals in Weezer’s new single “Do You Wanna Get High?”

Matt Shultz (vocals) of Cage The Elephant performing at KROQ

Twenty One Pilots, an emosynth pop duo from Ohio, had a jaw-dropping performance that included drummer, Josh Dun, going into the crowd on a drum platform for a solo in song, “Ride” and singer, Tyler Joseph being held up by fans during “Holding On To You.” While their set included Dun doing a backflip and Joseph running to the upper deck of the venue, the best moment by far was the drum finale. The duo stood on two separate platforms, held up by the crowd (of course) and gave it their all as they finished by drumming “Trees” while confetti fell throughout the entire venue.

Cage The Elephant, playing right before Twenty One Pilots, is another band that leaves it all onstage. The band played big KROQ hits such as “Shake Me Down” but also channeled the Pixies in new single “Mess Around” which brought the house down. During “Trouble” guitarist Brad Shultz’s passion led him to jump into the crowd where he continued to absolutely kill his guitar solo. Shortly after, his brother, lead singer Matt Shultz, kept the energy up by leaping into the crowd in a whirlwind of sweat and stripes.

Bastille opened their set with big hit “Flaws” off their debut studio album “Bad Blood” where lead singer, Dan Smith showcased a wide vocal range. Preceding them was alternative rock band, Silversun Pickups who clearly appealed to the older KROQ audience. It was evident they enjoyed themselves onstage, as they were cracking jokes between songs and making gestures at the crowd, making the whole set more personal.

AWOLNATION paid tribute to close friend, Scott Weiland, ex- Velvet Revolver and Stone Temple Pilots member, who recently passed away by bringing Duff McKagan onstage to play some of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Dead & Bloated.”

Aaron Bruno (vocals) of AWOLNATION brings Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses onstage

X Ambassadors ended their set with hit single “Renegades” which of course, had everyone in the venue singing along. Their set was full of emotion as lead singer, Sam Harris gazed upon his brother, blind keyboardist Casey Harris, while he pounded on his keys with such a genuine intensity, it was hard to look away. Foals had a much mellower set, playing echo heavy song “Inhaler.”

Although indie-pop artist, Halsey, has a massive following on social media, her having such an early slot at KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas resulted in her playing to a half empty venue. She appealed mostly to younger fans who were screaming their hearts out to “Colors” and “New Americana.” Her set was very emotional and slow, but soon gained momentum when she brought out good friend, Josh Dun from Twenty One Pilots, to fill in on drums during “Roman Holiday.”

To kick off the night, The Struts opened with an extremely energetic and eccentric performance, that rewarded anyone who got there early to watch. As as band from the UK, trying to stabilize roots here in the United States, they certainly impressed the crowd with their 70s’ glam, tight outfits, and an animated frontman, Luke Spiller, who completely embodies what Freddie Mercury is all about.


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