KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas Night 2 was more my speed. It was a strong lineup from start to finish featuring many bands that I have seen all year. I was wondering if KROQ had any surprises hidden up their sleeve for this particular night as Night 1 was by the numbers. It turned out to be a Killer night.
Spoon has played every radio station this year it seems. They played Little Radio in July here. They also managed to headline the Indie 103.1 holiday show. I walked into the Gibson Amphitheater while Spoon was rocking "I Turn My Camera On". Britt Daniel (Vocals/Guitars) sounded great and his Gibson Hollowbody guitar was a sharp knife cutting through the mix. Britt grabbed a bass for "The Ghost Of You Lingers" as Eric Harvey (Keyboards) hammered out the haunting melody on the keys. The guys from Jimmy Eat World were sitting in front of me and nodding their heads along to the music. "Don't You Evah" had Britt back on the guitar with a springy reverb tone that is characteristically him. "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" featured some guest horn players to add some extra fullness to the tune. "The Underdog" was a very appropriate song to play as I didn't think that KROQ even plays Spoon. Spoon was an excellent way to start the night.
I remember seeing Feist at a KCRW show a few years ago and being impressed by her vocal range. I don't watch much TV but my friends say she has an omnipresent ipod commercial. It seemed like just a few months ago, Feist and Spoon co-headlined the Gibson Amphitheater. I wasn't able to attend probably due to a concert conflict but I didn't know that her fanbase had grown that much. I did recognize "1234" which featured a mini crowd sing along. Feist did comment that she went swimming earlier in the day and that it was difficult to believe it was Christmas. She jokingly asked the crowd if they knew what a parka was.
Silversun Pickups continue their ascension to stardom. It is hard to believe that just last year I saw them play the Troubadour for two sold out nights. They also played their entire catalog at the Wiltern in October. The rotating stage swung around and the glow of multiple Christmas lights strewn across their gear started to make me think that it was the holiday season. Christopher Guanlao (Drums) had a Los Angeles Lakers stocking hanging off his super high hi-hat. Nikki Monninger (Bass) carved out the opening bass line for "Well Thought Out Twinkles" on her white Gibson Firebird bass and the crowd cheered in approval. "Dream at Tempo 119" is one of the many gems off their debut album "Carnavas" and sounds ten times louder live. Brian Aubert (Guitars/Vocals) appeared to have tuned down his guitar for the blistering "Little Lover's So Polite". They didn't give the audience a chance to breathe as they tore into "Future Foe Scenarios". Brian tapped into his inner Dave Grohl by taking a stroll around the Gibson Amphitheater to connect with the fans and test the limits of his wireless guitar system. I was hoping they would have enough time to throw in my all time favorite SSPU song "Common Reactor" but alas they waved goodbye to the crowd.
I never get tired of seeing The Shins. "Wincing The Night Away" has been highly overlooked on some of the top 10 lists of albums that I have perused. I saw them at The Joint, Vegoose, The Orpheum and at the KCRW show this year. The Shins came out firing as they did a sped up version of "Turn On Me". James Mercer (Guitars/Vocals) had his trusty yellow Gibson guitar and Vox AC 30 amp pumping out his overdriven chords. The hazy keyboards of "Sleeping Lessons" melted into the foot stomping guitar romp breakdown. Marty Crandall (Keyboards/Bass) ran his hand across the keyboard for a swirly version of "Caring Is Creepy". James did some solid tremolo picking during "Pam Berry" before letting his guitar drop out for the catchy bass line of "Phantom Limb". The Shins closed out the night with a harmonious version of "Know Your Onion!".
A larger buzz started to generate after the Shins finished their set and I started to hear whispers of a surprise guest. The thunderous bass line from "Shadowplay" started and I immediately recognized The Killers. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. I saw the Killers earlier this year at the Staples center and at San Diego Street scene. The crowd went bonkers when the opening guitar notes of "Somebody Told Me" rang out through the audience. The Killers got into the Christmas spirit as they unfurled "Don't Shoot Me Santa" with a guest vocals by Santa. The Killers roadies were dressed up as elves as they had water guns to spray the audience. Brandon Flowers (Vocals/Keyboards) was doused by Santa with a water gun at the ending of the song which Brandon laughed off. They closed their mini set with a huge sounding version of "When You Were Young". I am proud to say I can rock this song on drums when I play Rock Band.
Modest Mouse continues to tour in support of their latest release "We Were Dead Before The Ship Sank". It is always a treat to see Johnny Marr (Guitars) live as he is a living legend with all of his work in the Smiths. They have been touring forever as I saw them last year at the FM 94.9 Christmas show with the Silversun Pickups and the Shins. "Dashboard" sounds chaotic live as if the song will fall apart at any second. Isaac Brock (Vocals/Guitars) was howling and knocking over his microphone stand with his visceral live performance. I was watching Johnny Marr for most of their set and trying to gleam any techniques or chord voicings from his performance as I took a lot of technical notes.
Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World closed out the 2004 version of KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas but I remember Jim Adkins (Vocals/Guitars) mentioning that he felt stupid playing a guitar solo after watching Muse. He wouldn't have to worry about that tonight. Jimmy Eat World is touring behind "Chase This Light" which I was fortunate to attend their release party at the El Rey in October. Jimmy Eat World has been touring since then and have fallen back into their usual super tight live show. They opened with "Big Casino" and had the crowd on their feet. "A Praise Chorus" continued their momentum and their dual guitar attack. It started as a future greatest hits set as they followed up with "Work" from their previous album "Futures". I caught myself singing aloud to "Blister" which is very uncharacteristic of me. I will chalk it up to the holiday spirit. "Bleed American" was very well received with its super catchy drop-D tuned riff. Jim Adkins(Guitars/Vocals) had his black thinline Fender Telecaster backed by Vox amps with Tom Linton's Gibson SG guitar and Orange Amps. "Pain" was another crowd favorite that had a good majority of the crowd singing along. "In The Middle" was smartly saved for a sharp finale which had people dancing in the aisles. Jim also said he was thankful that he didn't have to go on after Muse and that the audience so be prepared to see the spectacle that is Muse. One could sense that Jim is a big fan of Muse.
Muse have had an amazing 2007. They have toured tirelessly across the World on their latest album "Black Holes and Revelations". I saw them at the Forum, Verizon Amphitheatre, Street Scene and at Vegoose this year alone. A Spiderman suit clad Dominic Howard (Drums) tweaked his Buchla synthesizer system to start the pulsating "Take A Bow". "Map Of The Problematique" really started to heat up the crowd with its tribal beat and Matt Bellamy's Digitech Whammy pedal flourishes. Matt was in a shredding mood on this particular night as he furiously tapped his Korg Kaoss pad for the intro to "Supermassive Black Hole". "Newborn" was simply off the charts. Matt was going crazy on his guitar with combinations of two handed tapping and striking the strings behind the nut for added feedback. I literally said "Wow" during the solo. I did sneak a peek and see Matt's Diezel amps on the side of the stage. "Hysteria" was another stand out track with one of the most memorable intro bass line in years. "Starlight" was a great big clap along and Muse was running beyond max speed at this point. Muse finished off the audience with a triple shot of "Time Is Running Out", "Plug In Baby" and "Knights of Cydonia" Muse also had their giant balloons filled with confetti fall from the ceiling into the crowd. As I left, I felt fortunate that I caught both nights.