Jane's Addiction, Black Keys, Mumford & Sons, Foster the People, Florence and The Machine and others
KROQ Acoustic Christmas, Night Two
For the second night of its 22nd Acoustic Christmas extravaganza, KROQ put on a strong show featuring both up-and-comers and rock icons. The proceeds benefited the children's charities of Al Wooten, Jr Heritage Center and Para Los Niños. There were hardly any acoustic instruments -- making the name of the show slightly misleading -- but this was still an awesome show.
Because of its circular stage, one band could get ready while the other performed, so there was never a long delay in between sets. Of the up-and-comers, Foster The People was the band that the audience had the strongest early connection with. Mark Foster had command of the crowd throughout what felt like a very short 30-minute set. The audience sang almost every word and fed off the singer's energy, dancing in the aisles.
Naturally, "Pumped Up Kicks," the band's signature song, received the loudest ovation, but the nine-song set demonstrated why Foster The People are a staple on rock radio.
Florence and The Machine took the show to the next level. Dressed in angelic hippie garb, the redheaded Welsh singer's voice sounds better in person than on the record. Mixing in songs of their latest release Ceremonials and 2009's Lungs, Welch and her band demonstrated why they are one of the best live bands out today.
The 25-year-old frontwoman has been called this generation's Stevie Nicks, with her to her angelic physical presence and unmistakable vocals. "Dog Days Are Over" and "What The Water Gave Me" showed that Welch has the ability to take over a show at any time.
Florence and The Machine may have brought the intensity, but Mumford & Sons had the crowd dancing and singing to their brand of catchy brand of alt-folk. The British band's fans were extremely vocal throughout the quartet's set.
In the middle of their performance, Marcus Mumford revealed that it was the band's swan song for 2011. But after that, he went on, the band is heading into the studio in January to record the anticipated follow up to their debut, the platinum selling Sigh No More.
Seeing them live for the first time, it's easy to understand why people are digging the band. Their mish-mosh of alternative rock, country, folk and elements of bluegrass demonstrate their abilities to write catchy, eclectic songs.
It's not easy to know when you are seeing a band in its prime, but the Black Keys seemed to be that. The Akron-bred duo has recently been in heavy promotion mode, with appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Colbert Report . Their latest record, El Camino, was released, and is projected to sell between 160,000-180,000 copies. Not too shabby.
Not surprisingly, many of songs they played were off El Camino, and having heard many for the first time, they sounded great. "Howlin' For You" and "Tighten Up" off Brothers had the crowd on their feet singing and rocking out hard.
Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney have managed to become the best duo in rock today. New songs like first single "Lonely Boy" and "Sister" had the signature Keys gritty, alt-blues-rock sound that the band has become synonymous with.
As the band finished their slightly over their allotted time, you could tell The Black Keys' set was the story of the night, even if they didn't close out the show.
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That distinction went to Jane's Addiction, but unfortunately the venue emptied out as the rock icons were starting to get into their groove. They were a bit loud for the venue, but overall they played a solid set. "Mountain Song" and "Been Caught Stealing" -- the latter of which was introduced by singer Perry Farrell as a technique for getting holiday gifts -- were well received, but the icons weren't able to capitalize on the momentum created by previous acts.
Personal Bias: If all single night shows had a lineup as deep as this, the world would be a better place.
The Crowd: An eclectic mix of fans of all ages and demographics.
Random Notebook Dump: It's smart to bring earplugs to concerts, especially when you are sitting in front of the speakers.