Southern California radio station KROQ (106.7 FM) hosted its 29th annual holiday concert this past weekend at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood. Home to alternative rock, the show spanned two nights and featured diverse lineups across the sonic spectrum.
On Saturday The Weekly was on hand to cover the action throughout the venue and enjoy the festivities with music fans that traveled from all over.
The early start time was a bit of a head scratcher as DJ Jeremiah Red opened with an eclectic set around 4p.m. SoCal’s own Badflower officially put things in motion as the crowds began to trickle in. Their hit single “Ghost” has been climbing the charts and was well received as the night began.
AJR followed with a unique pop-centric set and boastful attitude. Featuring brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met, the indie band really got the party started with their track “Come Hang Out.”
The sounds of ska made itself heard as The Interrupters joined in on the fun next. The LA band brought its classic style to the stage and entertained fans that embraced their horn section and positive vibes. Rancid’s Tim Armstrong came aboard to collaborate on “Family” and looked to be relishing in the spotlight.
The famous rotating stage turned once again as alt-rock staples AFI raced into their tight, six song set. The band’s new Missing Man EP was released last week. Davey Havoc and crew were stoked to play “Get Dark” for the audience and genuinely looked excited to be playing the annual Christmas concert again.
Punk rock veterans Bad Religion came out swinging with classics such as “New Dark Ages” and “Infected.” By this point the venue seemed to be missing some energy. A quick glance around the Forum and pockets of sections had empty seat rows. Was it the early start time on a Saturday in LA? Possibly. Regardless, the show went on and the diehards pushed closer to the stage.
Next up was possibly the highlight set of the evening. Greta Van Fleet commanded the crowd start to finish and mesmerized yours truly with guitar and drum solos between a 40-minute set of classic rock jams. It almost felt like a disservice to have the hottest new band play at 7:45 p.m.
The guys from Michigan were on fire and who can blame them? Last week they received four Grammy nominations, including best new artist and best rock band. Their hit single “Black Smoke Rising” was powerful and singer Josh Kiszka’s vocal range is epic. The guitar virtuoso of Jake and Sam Kiszka were equally on display, wrapping up with the “Edge of Darkness,” an epic jam that left fans cheering for more.
A tough act to follow, but Stephan Jenkins and Third Eye Blind brought it all on this night. 90’s nostalgia was in full effect with their sing along hit “Never Let You Go” as the floor section began to fill up. A rare acoustic guitar track made its way into the set and the group finished with the timeless “Semi Charmed Life.”
Taking the crown for most flamboyant rock star this evening was Jared Leto, front man for Thirty Seconds to Mars. Dressed in a bright mink coat and matching aviators, the Hollywood actor and lead singer made it a party for all to enjoy. Songs like “Rescue Me,” and “Walk On Water” were fan favorites and kept the momentum going. The band brought a group of fans on stage for their finale, “Closer to the Edge,” as confetti cannons were blasted into the arena.
Rounding out the night were Smashing Pumpkins, the long tenured act who many have come to appreciate over the years. Billy Corgan and crew busted out of the gates with their new single “Solara,” quickly followed by the cult classic “Zero.” The group’s catalog is well documented and the evening felt rejuvenated by their stage presence.
“Tonight, Tonight” had the entire arena singing along, in addition to a heart-warming version of “1979.” Corgan spoke briefly to the crowd between tracks, at one point saying “Thank you for staying with us. We are the Smashing Pumpkins. Here’s another rock jam.” The final track that brought back the angst of the 90’s alternative sound was “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.” With a crowd ranging from kids to grandparents, everyone seemed to know the lyrics and belt them out to the heavens.
In the end, KROQ put on a family-friendly show and it appeared most in house we’re having a ball. A venue change next year could do wonders for this traditional festive lineup and shakeup of acts to diversify its core audience may be needed to celebrate the 30th rendition.
Michael Silver is a journalist and photographer based in Southern California. He covers music, sports, technology, and streetwear. Tips & pitches: firstname.lastname@example.org