KROQ's Weenie Roast offers stellar performances and surprises
There was a lot to be thankful for at KROQ's annual Weenie Roast festival at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Saturday. It was the first time – at least in my memory – that it hasn't been so beastly hot that my shoes have stuck to the asphalt. The weather was almost perfect and though the sets were short (anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour), none of the acts on the bill simply dialed it in.
There weren't any noticeable technical difficulties and for the most part things ran on time – minus the extended performances of Young the Giant, Foster the People, the Airborne Toxic Event and Neon Trees on the side stages since Lykke Li had to cancel last minute and main stage acts were pushed back slightly to make room for an hour-long surprise performance from the Foo Fighters.
Foo Fighters' frontman Dave Grohl flashed his Cheshire cat grin to the rowdy crowd as the rotating stage slowly turned following Rise Against's fiery performance to reveal the secret band.
"Surprise!!!!" he yelled in a way that only Grohl can.
After blasting through "One By One," "The Pretender," "My Hero" and one of its newest singles, "Rope," Grohl addressed the crowd by admitting that the band was "really (bleepin') happy to be the surprise band at the Weenie Roast" and added that "If this was a real (bleepin') Foo Fighters show, we'd be up here for three hours." Since they only had an hour to plow through as much material as possible, Grohl said he'd try not to talk too much and only play "the hits," he added sarcastically.
Excited fans danced through "Learn to Fly," "Monkey Wrench," "Best of You," the bands latest single, "Walk" and sang along to "Everlong" and "Times Like These," which Grohl dedicated to his young daughter who was watching from the side of the stage.
Though the Foo's dropping in was a pleasant addition to the evening, billed headliners Linkin Park also delivered a stellar performance, though some of the crowd opted to bail out early. It's a shame because the band was really into it's set, rocketing through "Papercut," "Lying From You," "Given Up" and hitting a home run with "New Divide" – it was an inescapable hit in 2009 when it was used in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," but it sounded so much more powerful live.
Other crowd favorites included "Waiting for the End," "Numb," and the track that introduced Linkin Park to the KROQ audience, "One Step Closer."
Fresh off their recent spring tour, Rise Against and Bad Religion both had the audience on its feet, singing, shouting and dancing along to just about every track. Looking around the venue at various band T-shirts it was easy to see that these two artists, who just played at a sold-out Long Beach Arena in March, were fan favorites.
Stuck in a strange time slot – in between Bad Religion and Rise Against – it seemed as if the Strokes would be a bit of a buzz kill. Julian Casablancas and crew were more lively on stage than I've seen in the past and the crowd fed off of that energy, especially during "Hard to Explain," "Last Night" and "Take It Or Leave It."
Cage the Elephant and A Day to Remember also got the audience stirring and even had some fellow musicians supporting them in the crowd. Paramore vocalist Hayley Williams and her guitarist boyfriend, Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, singing along to these bands.
Face to Face opened the main stage and played a few tracks off "Laugh Now, Laugh Later," its first release in nearly a decade. Vocalist Trever Keith thanked KROQ for continuing to play Face to Face's music for almost 15 years. "But, this is our first Weenie Roast," he adds. "So go easy on us." Since Rise Against and Face to Face did a split EP covering each others tracks, Keith invited out Rise Against vocalist Tim McIlrath for "Blind" and the group ended its set with it's biggest radio hit, "Disconnected."
The Bud Light side stage was like mini Coachella. Hundreds of fans showed up early to catch Irvine-based indie rock act Young the Giant, which definitely didn't disappoint it's hometown. Fans knew every word to each song and howled during YTG's KROQ Locals Only debut, "Cough Syrup" and it's latest single, "My Body." Foster the People were also highly entertaining, even changing up the tempo on "Pumped Up Kicks" for the occasion. The Airborne Toxic Event and Neon Trees also drew in sizeable crowds as well and didn't waste any time getting to its hits – at this point it seems like everyone, even my own mother, knows the chorus to Neon Trees' "Animal."
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