Concert Review: KROQ Christmas, Night 1

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Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City (Saturday, Dec. 13)

Fans of Southern Cal modern-rock giant KROQ received two early holiday presents during Saturday's first night of the station's annual two-day Almost Acoustic Christmas musical smorgasbord, as a reunited Stone Temple Pilots and headlining punk veterans the Offspring delivered crowd-pleasing, chock-full-o'favorites sets.

The Offspring's mix of blistering juggernaut songs and cheeky humorous (and catchy) ditties ranged from the dizzy twirl-and-charge of "Come Out and Play" to the roar of "All I Want" and the semi-acoustic, marching-beat sing-along of "Why Don't You Get a Job?" Songs from the band's latest album, "Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace" (Columbia), didn't register with quite as much impact but still fit well.

Opening with a low-key "Big Empty," Stone Temple Pilots pulled out all of their 1990s grunge-and-beyond classics, including the push-and-pull of "Interstate Love Song" and the churn of "Vasoline." Frontman Scott Weiland brought rock-star power, from his writhing moves to megaphone play with vocals, but kept it in check. The band, though, faltered with the last couple of numbers, and a slightly shorter set would've truly made for a talked-about return.

Other highlights of the night included the politically minded Rise Against (showing its roots as the bassist wore a Clash T-shirt) firing off tuneful, punk-grounded salvos but also offering an acoustic number to show range. Bringing pop textures and finesse to the bill of generally hard-rocking acts was AFI in a "special appearance," while the horn-pushed stoner reggae-rock of Slightly Stoopid offered a lighthearted contrast to the often-dour offerings of other bands.

The hard-rock rage of Staind, though, seemed dated and formulaic but still had its fans in the crowd. Also appearing were punk grinder Three Days Grace and Hollywood Undead.

Alt-rock icons the Cure and the Killers were among the bands scheduled for Sunday's Night 2. Both shows benefit the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center and Para Los Ninos.
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