Dan Siebold

KROQ Absolut Almost Acoustic Christmas 2019 @ Honda Center – 12/07/2019

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Link to night 2 coverage here.

Returning to Anaheim for the first time in 20 years, the KROQ Absolut Almost Acoustic Christmas 2019 SOLD-OUT two nights at Honda Center on Friday and Saturday December 7th and 8th. After a string of successful years at the Forum in Inglewood, the iconic alt rock radio station moved their 30th annual holiday show to Orange County. Benefiting Para Los Niños and the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center, Night One included Beck, Jimmy Eat World, Young The Giant, Angels & Airwaves, Cold War Kids, The Head & The Heart, Catfish & The Bottlemen and the evening’s headliners—Cage The Elephant.

A wet SoCal weekend didn’t dampen the festive holiday mood. KROQ knows how to throw a shindig, they kicked off Saturday’s show with a tailgate party that started at 3pm that included a surprise appearance by Cold War Kid frontman Nathan Willett who hand delivered his new remix of “Complainer” to debut for the early arriving crowd. The party moved inside the venue at 5pm as doors opened for what would be a night filled with non-stop rock from 8 acts.

Catfish & The Bottlemen:   The British quartet kicked off the evening with a quick set that included a heavy dose of tracks off Balance, which was released earlier this year. Lead singer Van McCann is a true rockstar as he shredding his way through moody stage light. The band rocked through opening track “Longshot” (the lead single off Balance) and “7” before finishing up with 2014’s “Cocoon”.  

The Head & The Heart:  With a quick introduction and turn of the revolving stage the show kept flowing with the upstart indie folk outfit from Seattle taking their turn next. With a steady jolt of violins and tambourines, their fun set included 6 songs that covered material from their 4 studio albums. Newer track “Honeybee” was a highlight but the crowd noticeably perked up as the band closed with “Rivers and Roads”.

Cold War Kids:  These local boys have had a string of radio hits with “Love Is Mystical” and their latest single “Complainer” and this evening they used the platform to win over the late arriving crowd. Frontman Nathan Willett may not have typical rockstar looks but the band put on a solid 8 song set that concluded with “First”, which reached the #1 spot on Billboard’s Alternative chart back in 2015.

Angels & Airwaves:  Former founding member of Blink-182 Tom DeLonge has refocused his energy on his musical ‘art project’. After nearly 7 years, the San Diego-based quartet has returned to the road with a few new tracks, “Rebel Girl” (released this past April) received positive feedback from the sold out crowd as part of the quick 6 song set. Formed in 2005, the band has 6 albums of material to draw from—with “Surrender” and “Everything’s Magic” utilized early in the set. Older tracks “The Adventure” and “Heaven” closed out the entertaining set.

Young The Giant:  Originally formed in Irvine, the OC quintet continues to grow as solid live performers. They took the opportunity to present a career spanning set of hits that built up song after song towards the finale “My Body”, which had everyone on their feet—it was clearly apparent from the energy of the crowd that they wanted more. During “Heat Of Summer”, lead singer Sameer Gadhi had his own little dance party on stage. The fan-friendly set also included hits “Mind Over Matter”, “Superposition” and “Cough Syrup”.  

Jimmy Eat World:  Everyone’s favorite rock band from Mesa, AZ is always an easy pick to fill a spot on a KROQ show. With a slightly longer allocated stage time, lead singer Jim Adkins made sure that he and the band brought the rock and roll to the show as they opened with “Pain”—a true jam from their 2004 release Futures.  In what would be one of the only true ‘Christmas’ moments of the evening, a cover of Wham’s “Last Christmas” echoed through the venue. Frat house rock anthems “Sweetness” and “The Middle” closed out the set.

Beck: He’s graced the Acoustic Christmas stage multiple times but each time he definitely takes the party to the next level. This evening he kicked started his performance with probably his biggest hit, “Loser”. With support from lasers and a full band, the Los Angeles native showed off his catalog of hits this evening, interweaving new material (off his latest release Colors, released just last week) “Up All Night”, “Wow” and “Dreams” with his legendary hits “Devil’s Haircut”, “The New Pollution” and “E-Pro”. His constant motion can be exhausting to follow but this set was a blast, ending with a funky version of “Where It’s At?”.

Cage The Elephant:  Constant touring and an incredible stage show has resulted in the meteoric rise for this Bowling Green, Kentucky alt rock outfit. Their show has the energy of a bull fight, lead singer Matt Schultz took the stage with an outfit that would slowly be removed throughout the show—in what would basically be considered a super-slow striptease. Their recent release, Social Cues has been nominated for a Best Rock Album Grammy—a well-deserved nod.  Schultz hit the stage with an orange jacket, softball helmet complete with face guard, shinguards, kabuki mask and personal training parachute (just to name a few items). “Mess Around” was a fitting opening song, beginning what would become a strong 13 song set that would later include Beck on “Trouble”.  Earlier, the band’s biggest hits (“Ready To Let Go” and “Social Cues”) from their recent release were played back-to-back. To help close out the set and Night One of the KROQ Absolut Almost Acoustic Christmas 2019, mega hits “Shake Me Down” and “Come A Little Closer” fueled the frenzied crowd even more before the evening concluded with “Teeth”.

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