KROQ Weenie Roast y Fiesta

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There weren't a lot of surprises Saturday at Southern California's annual KROQ Weenie Roast y Fiesta, but considering how top-heavy the 10-hour radio festival was with established acts, that shouldn't come as a big shock. The fans knew what to expect, and the bands knew exactly what to deliver.

Headliner Metallica had performed a midweek show in Los Angeles, but the $200 and $500 tickets for Wednesday night's benefit performance priced out most of its So Cal diehards. Such wasn't the case with radio giant KROQ's annual presummer charity show, where more than 16,000 fans at a sold-out Verizon Amphitheater were treated to a 105-minute, 15-song Metallica set culled entirely from its back catalog.

Metallica's reputation as a live colossus precedes it, and the band didn't disappoint. Moments of expected studio rust were few and far between. "Creeping Death" set the tone early, frontman James Hetfield — his slicked-back hair and ragged goatee giving the metal icon a well-aged rockabilly visage — orchestrating the crowd's boisterous chants of the song's chorus, then maintaining the torrid opening through the barrage of "Fuel" and the epic strains of "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

"Do you feel it? Do you feel it like I do?" Hetfield asked after a tightly wound and noteworthy "The Memory Remains" that was driven by guitarist Kirk Hammett's blues-tinted shredding and the frontman's spot-on vocals. The veiled reference to the Peter Frampton classic paved the way for a trio of Metallica classics: "Fade to Black," "Master of Puppets" and "Battery."

Not only wasn't any new material unveiled, but there also wasn't a single mention of the band's highly anticipated new studio album until the very end of the night, when drummer Lars Ulrich promised fans a September release and October headlining tour before leaving the stage after a set-closing second encore of the Anti-Nowhere League cover "So What" and the song that got Metallica signed more than a quarter-century ago, "Seek and Destroy."

The Offspring offered a similar hit parade, albeit pop-flavored punk as opposed to Metallica's punk-seasoned metal. Polished and ready for the June 17 release of its eighth studio album, "Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace," new single "Hammerhead" was right at home amid like-minded, radio-proven hits including opener "Come Out and Play," the lush "Gone Away," the racing guitars of "Staring at the Sun" and lighthearted fan favorite "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)."

Solid, albeit predictable, sets were delivered by KROQ favorites and punk heavyweights Pennywise, Rise Against and Bad Religion, while the Raconteurs impressed with their riff-driven, rock 'n' roll throwdown. It was nothing fancy but deliberately punchy and inspired, which made for memorable set that culminated with the radio hit "Steady as She Goes."

Following sun-scorched mainstage sets by Atreyu, Irish punk crossovers Flogging Molly and South African mainstream rockers Seether, Scars on Broadway delivered a 30-minute set that not only distinguished the System of a Down spinoff from the day's other acts but also marked the band as a potential force in the year to come. Signed to Interscope Records following their performance at Coachella a few weeks ago, SOAD bandmates Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan lit their politically conscious and socially driven powder keg in Irvine, the set exploding in a melodic scrum of metallic fury, classical guitar interludes, punk rock progressions and doom-and-gloom-soaked vibrato.
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