KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas – Night 2 Live Blog

10:30pm

Arcade Fire

“They just said I have one extra second to talk because the band has so many members in it,” announces Stryker about the last band of the night, Grammy Award winning Arcade Fire. Arcade Fire is known for putting on one of the most amazing shows ever. Because they have to get all their gear situated, the in-house music plays a jangly cover version of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” When the stage finally turns, a version of the band with giant paper mache heads is playing their instruments. Win Butler comes onstage, laughing and kicks the “impostors” off the stage, saying “Hi. I’m really sorry about that. We’re called the Arcade Fire.” It’s a perfect segue into the band’s song “Normal Person.” He goes into the audience and shakes people’s hands like a politician. “How do you do?,” he asks.

With ten people onstage, Arcade Fire, is probably, literally, the warmest band onstage. Butler announces that the band is from a very cold place. “I know you think this is cold, but this is the warmest day in August,” explains Butler of his hometown Montreal. Dressed to the nines (Butler is wearing a black and white suit with a psychedelic -patterned shirt underneath) The band then does riveting, slight Talking Heads-ish versions of “Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out),” “Joan of Arc,” and “My Body Is A Cage.” Arcade Fire’s jangly music sounds even better when highlighted by Butler’s sonic partner-in-crime and in love, Régine Chassagne.

Twirling around in a gold-fringed dress, she sang in her beautifully elfish voice “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” while twirling multi-colored ribbons above her head. With her red sparkly wristbands, she looked like a disco dolly fairy creature version of Wonder Woman. And in the music world, Chassagne does sort of personify that role of elegant femme hero. She’s not just the other half; she’s a musical powerhouse.

Together, though, the pair make absolute magic. “Reflektor” was a sprawling, gorgeous journey into the shadowy underworld of music, like the dark side of the other side of a mirror, shards of musical light shining off shattered angles of sound. Just to illustrate that, Butler put a mirrored mask over his head while performing the end of the song. When the band breaks into a Latin percussive kind of beat before “Here Comes The Night Time,” Butler puts his paper mache mask back on playfully. As seriously good as Arcade Fire, that’s the biggest asset this band has: their childlike playfulness. Their musical talent sets them apart, but their ability to create a fantastical fairytale world onstage is what makes them one of the greatest live bands ever. Complete with confetti canon.

Follow along while watching our live stream online HERE.

9:10pm

(Photo by Gabriel Olson//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

(Photo by Gabriel Olson//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

“We don’t care. We’re not caught up in your love affair.” During the last year, the world has been caught up in the love affair of New Zealand’s teen queen singer-songwriter superstar, Lorde. Without seeing her live, it could be easy for people to negate her talent. But Lorde has one of the richest, most beautiful voices and stage presences we’ve seen in a long time.

She’s almost at the caliber of Nina Simone or Etta James. She’s completely humble and understated in her personality, but she knows how to work a crowd. Wearing a simple, chic black maxi dress, Lorde lets her music (and her sly humor) speak for itself. She works the crowd by telling them she “hates encores,” but if they want the last song, the audience has to “pretend this is an encore.”

“Do you want it?” Lorde asks sweetly. And after the loudest crowd response of the night for her songs “Tennis Courts,” “Buzzcut,” “Team,” “400 Lux,” and “Royals,” the audience loves Lorde. They’re totally caught up in her love affair and for good reason. She appeals to multiple generations; she raps Kanye West’s “Hold My Liquor” with the same swagger and ease as the rapper himself. Something tells us if the Grammy-nominated vocalist wins an award for her song “Royals,” everyone in music will be on her “team.”

Follow along while watching our live stream online HERE.

8:35pm

(Photo by Kevin Winter//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

(Photo by Kevin Winter//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

Indie-pop R&B-influenced noir at its finest, The Neighbourhood, are alternative music’s moodiest babes. They have strict rules of only wearing shades of black-and-white; all their pictures have to be taken in black-and-white as well. And although the young Los Angeles band is ostensibly a “rock band,” there is something about frontman Jesse Rutherford that is reminiscent of a famous rapper. His tattoos, his swagger, and his erotic edge are less rockstar than they are cultural icon. He’s like music’s urban version of James Dean and he wears that title well. He’s the stuff of fairytales.

He’s either not are of his latent sex appeal or he’s good at feigning naturalness because, wearing his white muscle-shirt and running his hands through his hair half-bleached, Rutherford exists in his own little world. For a second, he regards the audience before the band performs “Female Robbery,” thanking KROQ for putting The Neighbourhood’s music in people’s “computers and cars.” He makes the audience swoon as he repeats the words “again and again and again and again” during Little Death, dreamy R&B-style drumming swirling around him like waves. With a plea reminiscent of Lil Jon, Rutherford asks the audience to sing along to “W.D.Y.W.F.M” and chant “what.” But, of course, the pinnacle of the night was the season appropriate “Sweater Weather,” during which Riff Raff came out to rap.

Rutherford announced that Riff Raff is now an official member of The Neighbourhood. Welcome to the family, Jody.

Follow along while watching our live stream online HERE.

8:00pm

(Photo by Gabriel Olson//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

(Photo by Gabriel Olson//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

A star is born. Capital Cities’ infectious ’80s-style disco-rock s impossible not to dance to. The Los Angeles duo who once produced jingles for commercials, has booty-shaking grooves down to a beautiful science. Songs like “Kangaroo Court,” “Chartreuse,” and “Center Stage” are deliriously funky. Some bands are better live; some bands are better recorded. Capital Cities sounds exactly the same in both formats, which is awesome, because their recorded music is the stuff of epic dance parties.

Dressed in matching Varsity jackets with Capital Cities emblazoned on the back, the band exists more at a solid entity of sonic creation than a show with a frontman. With the exception of magical trumpeter Spencer Ludwig. With every sensuous blare of his horn and energetic dance move, Ludwig took up about half the stage with his athletic trumpet playing. During the band’s cover of “Staying Alive,” a fine fog settled around his silhouette. Later in the song, they covered Weezer’s “Sweater Song” for twenty seconds, making it into a slightly melancholic dance tune.

It’s clear that music and their varying influences drives everything around Capital Cities, so the title of their lively song “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo” makes so much sense. And with music as good as Capital Cities, a lot of people would probably rather be sleeping on the floor.

Follow along while watching our live stream online HERE.

(Photo by Gabriel Olson//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

(Photo by Gabriel Olson//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

“Los Angeles, we are Fitz and the Tantrums and we are so glad to be back home everybody.” The Los Angeles band might have traded in their retro threads for something more slick and modern, just like their newer tunes, but they still have the same amount of soul. All of their songs seem like they are dedicated to some aspect of their lives as Angelenos, especially their song “The Walker” which they closed the set out with. The song is dedicated to the infamous Silverlake walker, a man who walked around the city for hours, “walking to the sound” of his own drum. Much like Fitz and the Tantrums. Live, they are completely different than every other band out there.

Michael Fitzpatrick is a dynamic lead man and his energy feeds perfect off of Noelle Scagg’s vivacious onstage personality. With all the dancing. Just watching the band is a work-out and the pair even have a kind of hip-hop swagger. The band played bands like “Break The Walls, “ “Don’t Gotta Work It Out,” “Spark,” and “Money Grabber.” Before “Outta My League,” the band dedicated the song to KROQ who was the “first mother**king radio station” to play the song. Everything had come full circle. The band who belongs so perfectly in the soulful melting pot that is Los Angeles had finally come home. “Everybody have a very Happy Holidays and much, much love to KROQ. Our home forever.”

Follow along while watching our live stream online HERE.

7:00pm

(Photo by Gabriel Olson/CBS Radio for Getty images)

(Photo by Gabriel Olson/CBS Radio for Getty images)

“I just want to be evil,” sings Portugal. The Man in their colorful tune “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue.” As lead singer John Gourley sings, bright psychedelic eyeballs blink in the background. The band’s eclectic sound jumps like an agile beast from genre to genre and without the unifying theme of their album, the band’s plethora of sonic influences is even more evident. It’s incredibly expansive and creative, one of the most interesting amalgamations of modern sound out there. With organs, recorders, violins, cellos, and, of course, rock and roll guitars, Portugal. The Man is brash and beautiful, cacophonous and carefree, primal and perfected. There’s something very organic about the band’s live playing.

Despite the name “Hip Hop Kids,” that sound is reminiscent of raucous ‘90s grunge. “All Your Light (Times Like These)” includes an epic drum solo, while “Modern Jesus” has a theme appropriate organ. Gourley, mysterious and sublimely sullen as a performer, is the epitome of what a 21st century artist looks and acts like. So immersed in his music, his snotty punk attitude really shines in the bratty “Creep In A T-Shirt.”

During the middle of that song, the band paid homage to a Blur song with a similar chord structure, blending the song effortlessly with their sound. “Shit nobody knows that song,” joked the band. But the song they did know was “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” featuring Curt Smith from Tears For Fears who joined the band for an amazing rendition of his hit song. With an endorsement like that. Portugal. The Man really could rule the world.

Follow along while watching our live stream online HERE.

6:30pm

(Photo by Kevin Winter//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

(Photo by Kevin Winter//Getty Images for CBS Radio)

In stark contrast to Atlas Genius, despite their similar sound, Bastille came out with their synth and rhythm heavy dance-pop, starting the set with their gorgeous, almost R & B-influenced “Bad Blood.” Awash in red light, Dan from Bastille’s voice crackled gorgeously under the images of someone pigging out on food. They also had images in the background for “Things We Lost In The Fire” with the rollicking cinematic soundspace punctuated by Dan’s Taiko-style drumming. At one point, around “Overjoyed” and “Icarus,” the band pounded their drums to the beat of the light with a voiceover in the background.

During “Flaws,” Dan rocked out, grabbing the back of his neck tentatively, at one point holding the microphone up to the people in the balcony to sing-a-long. In order to get his vocal warble, Dan wobbled the microphone in front of his face. Before going into the joyful chords of “Pompeii,” Dan told the audience: “Thanks so much for having us. We’re Bastille. Have an amazing day and a Happy Holidays and all that. Hopefully we see you soon!” With the audience response and their amazing stage presence, there’s no doubt that Bastille will be warming the dancing bodies of concert goers for years to come.

Follow along while watching our live stream online HERE.

6:00pm

(Photo by Gabriel Olson//CBS Radio for Getty Images)

(Photo by Gabriel Olson//CBS Radio for Getty Images)

With the blinding, glittery flash of strobe lights, Australia’s Atlas Genius came onstage to the guttural throb of pounding drums and a heady rush of slick power guitars. Lead vocalist Keith Jeffrey, dressed in an understated jeans and t-shirt combo, has a precious, plaintive sheen to his voice that’s reminiscent of Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon, but it goes down softer and smoother, especially when he hits sugary vibratos in songs like “Centered On You.” Atlas Genius’ brand of indie rock is has elegant and refined as rock can be. “On A Day” and “Back Seat” tell quintessential life stories and when performed live are appropriately cinematic. The audience could almost just close their eyes and travel down a sonic rabbit hole into their mind.

Minimalist lights and subdued stage presence but their shimmery guitar hooks are both jaunty dance riffs and super-cool post-modernist rock at its finest.
Atlas Genius will shake you out of that zen though. In the middle of their 30-minute set, the insanely plush dance jam “Electric” magnified across the large retro room of the Shrine and reverberated through the balconies, shaking the stonework and the mass of bodies gathered up top. Riding on that wave, Atlas Genius demonstrated their modernized flair with ‘80s-style chords on “If So” including Talking Heads style guitar plucking and stadium-ready instrumentation reminiscent of U2. The band ended their set with radio hit, “Trojans.” The song, just like the Trojan Jeffrey sings about, is sure to stick in the audience’s head. And the band wants their audience to stick in their heads, too. They took a picture of the audience at the end of their set.

“Have a great Christmas and a great New Year and a wonderful evening. Let’s finish this song, shall we?

Follow along while watching our live stream online HERE.