KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas

Gibson Amphitheatre, December 8

Get this: People still love Linkin Park. Sure, the band’s latest album, Minutes to Midnight, debuted at number one back in May. And, yeah, their Projekt Revolution tour did brisk business this summer.

But speaking as someone who admires much about Minutes — a Rick Rubin–assisted effort as defined by art-pop texture as radio-rock bombast — I’d sort of developed the sense lately that though they’d obviously managed to outlive the nü-metal boom that launched them toward superstardom, the Linkin lugs no longer inspired the full-on adoration they once commanded.

I was wrong. Headlining the first night of KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas, Linkin Park whipped the crowd into a frenzy that actually redeemed a cliché like “whipped the crowd into a frenzy.” And they didn’t do it by relying solely on old hits such as “Numb” and “Somewhere I Belong”; they also drew huge cheers with relatively cerebral Minutes material, including “Leave Out All the Rest” and “Hands Held High,” the latter of which featured a cute kids choir. Grouse all you want about their predilection for sentimental whine-and-cheese, but the band seemed to give a shit about their performance — not at all a given on the year-end radio-show scene.

In fact, all seven of Saturday’s acts did more than scratch program-director back. System of a Down’s Serj Tankian led his top-hatted five-piece band through prickly, pretty folk-metal jams from his recent solo debut. Avenged Sevenfold scowled and preened and worked their smoke machine. Rise Against gave the mosh pit something to chew on. Bad Religion made jokes about how old they are, then proved it with a timeless pop-punk attack. And, riding high on a Best New Artist Grammy nod, Paramore bashed out their tween-rock rave-ups with even more energy than usual.

Former Blink-182 front man Tom DeLonge’s Angels & Airwaves were the night’s only bummer; with their soggy, interminable emo-prog anthems, they sounded like U2 covering the original cast recording of Les Misérables, only shitty instead of awesome.

—Mikael Wood

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