Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
May 5, 2012
The Weenie Roast is always a great show for people who just want to be entertained. You sit back, watch the giant platform on the main stage rotate (no waiting time in-between sets!) and just take it all in. It's a fun, boisterous, beer-spilling kind of crowd, so when you DO get beer spilled on you, you just raise your glass and say "Cheers!"
This year -- its 20th -- the modern rock station once again held the festival at the Verizon Wireless in Irvine, and once again called it the Weenie Roast y Fiesta (it was Cinco de Mayo, after all). Surrounded by countless fans in Mexican hats boozing it up, I tried to imagine how the powers that be at KROQ planned their event: "We should pick bands who've been around since we started, to reinforce the idea that all of us -- the bands, the audience, KROQ -- grew up together in music."
And it was true; more than once I'd close my eyes and go back in time. Before smart phones, before social networking, before having information available to us 24/7, we worshipped all the acts on KROQ's bill.
So sure, while more contemporary bands such as Silversun Pickups and The Dirty Heads killed it (in the five times I'd inadvertently watched Silversun Pickups at various festivals since 2007, I'd never seen them perform with such charisma and technical skill), there wasn't the same kind of teary-eyed nostalgia going on during their sets.
Of course, the Weenie Roast has to top itself, even when going down memory lane. To build up the anticipation for their "secret guest performer," girls in feathered headdresses (a hybrid of Indian/Roman/peacock variety) danced up and down the aisles while two men (also in hybridized-feather gear) beat drums onstage right before Soundgarden came out for a surprise appearance.
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As they led the crowd into a singalong set of "Spoonman," we were all in. Never mind that Chris Cornell didn't sound like he was in top form that night; his high range was exquisite as usual but we couldn't discern the low end and depth of his voice during "Rusty Cage" or "Fell On Black Days." (It might have been technical problems; there was also some terrible crackling coming from the speakers during their set).
I originally didn't have high hopes for Pennywise's set sans their longtime singer Jim Lindberg, but the new band, led by Fletcher Dragge and singer Ignite Zoli Téglás, blazed through it and thoroughly pumped up the crowd. During their set, my husband turned to me and wrote down on my notebook, "This is too loud!" As Pennywise played a tribute to the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, via a cover of "Fight For Your Right (To Party)," I had to think: was it really too loud, or we were just too old?
Random Notebook Dump: Coldplay is the only band that can successfully rock out to quiet songs.