By Ramon Gonzales
Shaking off the cobwebs the morning after Almost Acoustic Christmas is a bittersweet process. Scrolling through the photos and text messages, the haze starts to fade and there is a realization that the weekend really was one for the books. The painful reality that quickly follows lies in the fact that there is a full calendar year before the magic happens again. Whether you were there in person or just saw it via your social media feed, the two-day shindig had some especially notable moments.
Like any big game, it only makes sense to pool some of the highlights together for a proper reel to relieve a little of the excitement.
Christmas Carols That Didn’t Suck
No doubt there was a nostalgic theme that seemed to resonate throughout the weekend. Adding to the trip through time, Blink-182 fondly recalled the Kevin & Bean Christmas compilations that were holiday staples. Arguably one of the most enduring tunes from that era was Blink’s “Won’t Be Home For Christmas”. The live rendition scored major points with the crowd only to be rivaled by Jimmy Eat World’s version of the Wham! classic, “Last Christmas”.
The Parents of AAC
While it isn’t all that rare to see a few little humans taking in a rock show, this year seemed to be particularly heavy with kids. Less about the lack of a babysitter, parents seemed stoked to share in the excitement of what was happening onstage. Dancing on the floor and riding on shoulders, it was something special to see different generations celebrate a weekend of live KROQ music together.
An unsuspecting full house at the Forum was treated a rattling performance from one of rock music’s most respected guitarists. Tom Morello walked out onto the stage during the latter half of X Ambassadors’ set and the arena was sent into a frenzy. The only thing louder than the audience’s reaction was Morello’s signature strings. If one song could dispute the notion that rock is dead, night one at Acoustic Christmas got to experienced it with “Collider” live.
The Barricade Fans
The knock on Southern California fans in general is that they show up in the 3rd and bail in the 7th (forgive the baseball analogy). As the doors to the Forum opened just after 4pm each afternoon, there were a committed few that hustled into the venue to secure some prime viewing real estate along the barricade. Mostly dawning gear that clearly displayed their love for the show’s headliners, most of the fans were excited to stand and wait for hours, so long as they were up front for THEIR band. In LA, no one shows up early and they damn sure don’t stay until the end. These fans however, emphatically proved otherwise.
Billie Joe’s Fill Ins
The guys in Green Day have developed a reputation for transforming their performances into an interactive experience. There are some fans that have the bragging rights of being able to say they have played live with Green Day in concert. During the band’s AAC performance, they brought up a few fans, but none made more of a lasting impression then the young lady that got to sing the band’s hit, “Longview” live. Bouncing around onstage and relishing in the moment, what she didn’t have as a natural singer was made up for in spades as an enthusiastic performer. The crowd responded in kind by losing it with her.
The Stylish Hats of Almost Acoustic Christmas
From The Strumbrellas to The Head and The Heart to Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, the hat game happening onstage at ACC was super strong. Embracing a sort of rustic quality put through the style rigors of Melrose Avenue, the fashion accents only served to compliment each performance package. If every girl is crazy about a sharp-dressed man, then every fan is crazy about a sharp-dressed band.
Beck Salutes David Bowie and Prince
It wasn’t superlative when mentioning that the 27th annual Almost Acoustic Christmas really was one for the history books. As Beck stepped out onto the stage he did so for the very first time at the Fabulous Forum of Inglewood. Towards the first third of his set, Beck mentioned, “When you grow up in LA, this is a very big deal.” Punctuating his stage time, Beck tipped his hat to the legends that passed in 2016. Performing tunes from both David Bowie and Prince, the musical homage not only struck a chord with the fans but seemed to cement a significant moment in the legacy of ACC.
Rivers’ Use of Props
Referring to the concert as a sort of, “Office holiday party,” Rivers Cuomo reminded fans that this was the third consecutive year that Weezer was contributing their tunes to the KROQ Christmas bash. However familiar, every song Weezer played was met with complete adulation from the fans in the stands. In an effort to completely embrace the part, Rivers completed successful onstage costume changes that included a sombrero, a lei (think “Island In The Sun”), and finally a red velvet cape and golden crown for “King of The World.” The devil is always in the details, but leave it to Rivers to think of everything to make a good show great.
Dan Smith’s Accent
While both nights were loaded with star power, the shrill that emitted from the floor of the Forum when Bastille took the stage was unmistakable. With hits like “Pompeii” and “Good Grief” from the latest Wild World release might have something to do with the enthusiasm in the building during their set, when songwriter and vocalist Dan Smith spoke, things became increasing clear. The soft-spoken yet commanding performer uttered sincere thank you’s in between songs and when he did, that same shrill. Not only was it noticeable but it was frustratingly impressive.
Andrew McMahon’s Inflatables
The production crew for AAC really outdid themselves this year. The stage and lighting really did create a spectacle that merited the thousands of social media posts it generated. Andrew McMahon decided that his time onstage needed a bit more visual pizzazz to mark the special occasion. Andrew brought with him four wacky inflatables that periodically went wild mid-song. Every time the inflatables went up, so did the camera phones.
Billie Joe’s F-Bombs
This might seem strange, but Billie Joe of Green Day says the F-word in a way that makes you believe he invented it. That F is a hard, emphatic FFFFFFFF’ that could’ve rallied the entire Forum to march out to Prairie and Manchester in protest. Seriously. YouTube it.
M83’s Sexy Sax Man
The success of ACC was certainly a collective effort. However, if there was one dude that might’ve stole the show, it was M83’s touring saxophone extraordinaire, Joe Berry. Rounding out a super spacey set with the smash, “Midnight City,” the crowd’s anticipation for the crescendo of brass swelled. Berry then emerged out in front of the rhythm section and wailed. He emptied his lungs into his horn for the song’s signature saxophone solo which incited pandemonium among the fans in the Forum. Lisa Simpson. Bill Clinton. Joe Berry, AAC 2016. That good.
The Parking Lot Security
One of the editorial ideas being kicked around at one point was to find the parties in the parking lot. It’s an unspoken tradition that going to the rock show is always paired with a little pre-gaming in the parking lot. (Not that we encourage that sort of thing) Much credit to the security staff keeping an eye on the parking lot because there wasn’t a single beer bong, tall can, or Buzzball to be found on the perimeter.
Beer Mug’s Fans
There were nine separate times in two days that fans approached me and asked, “Are you Beer Mug?” Aside from the beard and the Dodgers hat, it’s highly unlikely that so many people would make this mistake. The last guy to stop me and ask seemed upset and convinced I was lying to him. I posed for the photo, but felt bad about it.
(Mugs, sorry dude. You are much better looking.)