KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas, Gibson Amphitheater, December 8,

featuring Linkin Park, Bad Religion, Serj Tankian, Angels & Airwaves, Avenged Sevenfold, Rise Against and Paramore

By Mikael Wood

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.

Photos by Timothy Norris

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 from arena stages around the world.

I was wrong. Headlining the first night of KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas at the Gibson Amphitheatre last Saturday night, 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” (though those certainly didn’t hurt); 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.

Serj Tankian:

In fact, all seven of Saturday’s acts did more than scratch program-director back. System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian appeared to have a great time leading 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 lots of jokes about how old they are, then proved it with a pop-punk attack as timeless as it’s ever been. And riding high on a Best New Artist Grammy nod, the kids in Paramore bashed out their tween-rock rave-ups with even more energy than usual.

Bad Religion:

Former Blink-182 frontman 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. DeLonge could hardly be accused of phoning it in—dude kept doing a bizarre I’m-a-big-boy dance that made it clear he’s in this for the power, not the glory. Still: yikes. Give it a rest, ye merry gentleman.

Angels & Airwaves

All photos by Timothy Norris

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