December 11, 2011 | 3:01pm
KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas Night One
December 10, 2011
Starting off 22 years ago as a one-night affair with a handful of acoustic performances, KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas has swelled into a two-night, predominately plugged-in festival. Night one, usually billed as the hard rock night, boasted the line up of Blink-182, 311, Social Distortion, Sublime with Rome, Bush, Chevelle, Young The Giant and New Found Glory.
Boldly wearing a jacket that read "Pop Punk Isn't Dead," Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory enthusiastically bounced around the stage like it was the year 2000. Vocalist Jordan Pundik was in a Santa suit running around wildly, engaging the crowd. New Found Glory, touring in support of their latest album Radiosurgery released on the venerable Epitaph records, gave those unfamiliar with their catalog a chance to sing along during their cover of The Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop."
Orange County natives Young The Giant continue to evolve. It seems like only yesterday I saw them at the Chain Reaction opening for Peachcake when they were called The Jakes. Vocalist Sameer Gadhia alternated between two microphones while guitarists Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata drenched their guitars with delay and reverb for such songs as "Cough Syrup" and "My Body." I was surprised to see they were headlining the Wiltern in February, but their performance quickly eroded any doubts they could carry a show.
Chevelle used sheer volume to stir up the crowd with sub sonic bass, ear-crushing guitars and chest-rattling bass drums. Opening with "The Clincher," Chevelle stuck to their assortment of radio singles as Pete Loeffler pounded out the riffs on his Paul Reed Smith Gold top guitar. The audience reacted strongly to their other singles "Send The Pain Below" and "The Red."
Having sold out the Grove of Anaheim in September, Bush closed out their tour in support of their latest album The Sea of Memories with a bang by being one of the evening's standout performers. Strategically, "Machinehead" was a perfect way to start their set, as the crowd was singing along from the start. Gavin Rossdale expressed how nice it was to be home, mentioning he lives a mere seven minutes away. "The Chemicals Between Us," "Everything Zen" and "Glycerin" kept the crowd rocking and the beers hoisted high in the air in approval. At that moment, they held the distinction of being the best band of the evening.
Taking the place of Incubus, perennial KROQ favorites Sublime with Rome stepped up to the plate and pleased the audience with such radio staples as "Date Rape," "Smoke Two Joints" and "Santeria." It is still eerie how much Rome sounds like Brad Nowell. Rome has made great strides in becoming a frontman, seeming much less shy compared to some of their early gigs. The underlying story is during an interview on air, it was announced that drummer Bud Gaugh will be leaving the band to focus on his family. So will it still be called Sublime with Rome?
Mike Ness is the Johnny Cash of Punk Rock. It was surprising to see his band Social Distortion didn't headline, considering they continue to sell out venues across the country. Armed with his Les Paul Gold top emblazoned with an Orange County sticker, Ness ripped into "Bad Luck" and never let up on the gas pedal. "Story of My Life," "I Was Wrong" and "Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown" pummeled the crowd. The final switchblade to the gut was a double stab of "Prison Bound' and "Ring of Fire," leaving no doubt they were kings of KROQ Acoustic Christmas.
It is hard to believe 311 has been at it for 23 years. As he bounced around with his red Gibson Flying "V" guitar, strumming the chords to "Beautiful Disater," Nick Hexum still seemed to be in his twenties. The aroma in the air reminded me of Sublime with Rome's set as they worked through "Amber," "Come Original" and "Creatures (For Awhile)."
Closing out the party was Blink-182 with their usual R-rated antics. Even though they have a new album, Neighborhoods
, Blink-182 stuck to their arsenal of hits; "I Miss You," "What's My Age Again?" and "The Rock Show" kept everyone going. Blink tapped into the holiday spirit with "Happy Holidays, You Bastard," to which Mark Hoppus claimed he saw a bunch of mothers in the crowd becoming bummed out due to the use of profanity. Happy Holidays, indeed!
I can't remember the time when I missed a KROQ Acoustic Christmas show.
Random Notebook Dump: Unfortunately, no surprise band showed on this night, which has occurred in past years.
Crowd: Lucky KROQ winners and those quick enough to type the word that comes up on Ticketmaster.