I hurried up to the line to get in, feeling the vibration of the music playing. I got behind two boys who looked a couple of years older than me and hoped they wouldn’t turn around to look at my family. Dad came up a moment later and gruffly said, “Stay here.” I nodded and focused on my kelly green Doc Martens. Even though the front of the concert line was about 100 feet away, I could still hear my dad talking to the guy manning the door. “But when does the show end?” “Well if you can’t tell me that can you give me an approximate time?” “When does Siousxie and the Banshees go on?” I stopped listening and bent down to retie my shoes. I was checking for wrinkles on my Depeche Mode shirt when my dad came back from his interrogation. “We will be out here at 11. Stay together, don’t leave each other alone. Go to the bathroom together, not separate. Here is some money, make sure you eat something.” He handed me $40 since I was the oldest, to my delight and despite my sister’s whining. He hugged us both and walked towards the movie theater down the City Walk, mom following not far behind.
In December of 1991 I went to my first KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas. On December 10th 2017 I went to my second. I am now the age my parents were that fateful night they dropped my sibling and I off at the Universal Amphitheater in Universal City. I was 16 and trying to identify as a KROQ alternative music listener, while deep down I was probably still a KISS pop music listener. The lineup that night in addition to Siouxsie and her posse was Ian McCulloch, Alison Moyet, School of Fish, The Smithereens (who I still love), The Picture, and The Wonder Stuff. I wish I could say I still had all these bands in my Apple Music but I am not and have never been that cool. On this recent Sunday I attended one of the most fun concerts I have ever been to. I’m still not cool but damn if I am finally a bona fide KROQ listener.
Vance Joy opened the show at 5 pm. His infectious smile lit up that stage during his entire performance with songs “Riptide”, “Fire and the Flood”, and “Mess is Mine”. He reminds me of Jack Johnson and you can’t help but be happy listening to his music.
X Ambassadors followed Vance Joy. As soon as the stage rotated and they were front and center, lead singer Sam Harris brought all the energy and vibe of Freddie Mercury. They sang their hits “Unsteady” and “Renegades” along with others. Sam spoke passionately of inclusion, which brought this cry baby to tears.
Franz Ferdinand had my favorite backdrop of the night:
Anybody want to do a mock up of this with “The Wilsons” so I can put it in my house? Anyways…
The band’s act was stylized like an 80s’ Duran Duran music video with singer Alex Kapranos definitely channeling Simon Le Bon with his on point wardrobe and hair.
Indie band Phoenix mellowed out the show with “Lisztomania” and I wanted Thomas Mars’ shirt (this became a recurring theme for me as the night progressed).
I was able to see Foster the People a couple of years back and knew they would put on a good show:
Walk the Moon is a Cincinnati based band that came onto the scene with “Shut Up and Dance.” They rocked out while sporting their white eyeliner makeup and wearing some apparel I might also want for my wardrobe (Nicholas Petricca wore a cream poncho with an eyeball print).
Next up was one of my favorites, The Lumineers. They are not a band that comes out with the excitement of others but are true musicians with cellist Neyla Pekarek in full concentration mode that gave me chills. Singer Wesley Schultz talked of getting Tom Petty’s blessing to cover Walls before they did him proud and sang it for us lucky audience members (didn’t think I would need Kleenex for this concert but there it is).
Weezer had all of us on our feet from the first chord and I couldn’t sit down during their set even if I had wanted to. They are my generation’s Beach Boys with their California inspired songs. They gave us an early Christmas present by showing videos of dogs running up and down the beach and diving into pools during “Undone-The Sweater Song”.
Morrissey was scheduled to headline the show but bailed the day before (which I came to find out is typical for him). But he was not missed as The Killers closed out the show with an explosion of Brandon Flowers flying onto stage and confetti bursting onto those standing in the pit. They covered “The Charming Man” by The Smiths and “Every Day is Like Sunday” by Morrissey, which more than made up for his absence (if his not being there meant we got more of The Killers I feel like we got the better end of the deal). The stage was adorned with a Mars symbol (their current single is “The Man”) and Venus symbols (lady backup singers).
The more I run towards being happy, the more music I listen to. KROQ’s 2017 annual Almost Acoustic Christmas had a crowd where everybody was happy to be there, the smell of garlic fries, bathroom lines that moved quickly (a Christmas miracle), and glowing blue sticks that lit up the Forum. And instead of worrying about if people were watching my lame dance moves (which I probably did back in ’91), I danced my ass off.