By Scott T. Sterling
“I’m so glad 2016 is coming to a f–cking end,” groused Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong during the band’s triumphant headlining set at the second night of the 2016 edition of KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas show. The sold out Forum was packed, with hordes of fans on the main floor surging towards the stage.
Looking out into the crowd, the notoriously political singer leaned into the microphone while gazing towards the upper reaches of the arena.
“Tonight, California,” he bellowed. “We are together!”
It was a fitting end to the night and the 2016 Acoustic Christmas shows, as genuine Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, Green Day, roared through an inspired set that found the group digging deep into their bottomless catalog of hits and teen angst santhems.
Respect for the American punk rock legends ran high throughout the night, with many of the earlier bands shouting them out during their sets. KROQ DJ Stryker even brought No Doubt’s Adrian Young and Tony Kanal to introduce the band.
Opening with the exceedingly relevant “American Idiot,” Green Day delivered a thrilling rock show, with Armstrong leading the charge with campy enthusiasm and old-fashioned showmanship.
He invited a pair of young female fans onstage to sing with the band, with the second impromptu vocalist taking over “Longview,” working the stage and dropping out in time for the crowd to sing. Someone has being doing her lead singer homework.
“This is my high school band, baby,” Armstrong beamed towards the end of the show, marveling at the band’s simple black and white spray-painted logo displayed on the back of the stage. “Lasted 30 years.”
Beck got the party started right from the start of his set, opening with a rollicking version of “Loser” before whipping through songs like “Devil’s Haircut,” “Black Tambourine” and “Qué Onda Guero,” he slowed things down to “put the acoustic into Almost Acoustic Christmas,” as he quipped before launching into Morning Phase single, “Blue Moon.”
Bringing the party vibes back with “Wow” and “Where It’s At,” Beck used band member introductions to launch into rousing cover versions of Chic, David Bowie, Kraftwerk and Prince songs.
Weezer rolled out the band’s cavalcade of indelible songs from the indie rock canon, opening hard with “Hash Pipe” and charging through their greatest hits at a breakneck pace. “Beverly Hills,” “Island in the Sun,” Say It Ain’t So,” “Buddy Holly”—even the most causal Weezer fans had their hands in the air and singing along to every word.
Earlier in the night, Bastille turned up the drama with their bombastic British rock anthems like “Pompeii,” following the bright pop hooks of Andrew McMahon in his Wilderness, who ventured into the crowd and under a big parachute with fans during “Synesthesia.”
Women had a strong onstage presence at the Sunday night show, with Phantogram delivering stark, dynamic dance-rock favorites including “Fall in Love” and “When I’m Small.” The band displayed a classic rock influence creeping in on new songs like “Same Old Blues,” from the group’s most recent album, Three.
Bishop Briggs also represented for the ladies, laying her strong and soulful vocals over minimal electronic rhythms and trap beats highlighted by the single, “River.”
After a crowd-hyping DJ set from KROQ’s own DJ Jeremiah Red, The Head and the Heart opened the show by walking out to Eagles’ 1975 hit, “One of These Nights,” an apt precursor to the band’s folky, Laurel Canyon-influenced Americana.
So that’s it. KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas 2016 is now officially in the books.
Your move, 2017.