Music Reviews

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Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.
Saturday, Sept. 15

"It's times like these you learn to live again." Foo Fighters' frontman Dave Grohl summed up his fine band's appeal in that single line during the most outstanding performance of Saturday's KROQ L.A. Invasion concert festival at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

The bearded, long-haired Grohl initially took the stage alone with an electric guitar to play the love pledge "Everlong," and much of the stadium instantly joined him. As the rest of the band kicked in, the song soared, and so did the Foos for their entire set, one big rocking sing-along for all.

In a brilliant run of melodically charged songs that included "Learn to Fly," "Best of You" and previews from the upcoming album "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace," the group excited and uplifted -- a great rock 'n' roll band, tender and tough with heart and depth, yet also never too serious.

The reignited Smashing Pumpkins might have been top-billed at the '90s-centric show, but the band's precision-tooled sonic explorations from its new album "Zeitgeist" didn't stir the crowd like such older material as the ranting "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" and near-symphonic, prog rock-styled "Tonight, Tonight."

Singer-guitarist Billy Corgan's nasal, agitated vocals certainly were urgent, but he just couldn't connect as deeply as Grohl. Many of the band's arrangements were too cerebral and technical, missing the emotional center.

The early evening was all about variations on thunderous arena- and stadium-rock styling: Velvet Revolver fired off round after round of explosive, hard-edged songs, including some scorchers from the band's current album "Libertad." But the crowd roars came for the power ballad "Fall to Pieces," featuring the distinctive guitar leads of Slash, along with dips into the band members' past with a roughed-up version of Stone Temple Pilots' "Vasoline" and singer Scott Weiland surpassing the Axl Rose vocal on a plaintive rendition of Guns N' Roses' "Patience."

Kid Rock was all showtime, flanked by two pairs of strippers writhing around poles in cages throughout. He kicked off with the blistering, balls-out rap-rock of "Bawitdaba," dipped into AC/DC's "Back in Black" (though he was wearing white), rode out the heavy-cruiser title track of his upcoming album "Rock 'n' Roll Jesus" and took a detour during the rolling, hip-hop-meets-Southern rock of "Cowboy" into the -- yee haw -- theme from "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Kid played a little guitar, worked the turntables and was a jack-of-all-styles. He might have been over-the-top -- all sex, lust and swagger -- but he also was pure entertainment.

Far more serious, full of brood and howl and with his voice as powerful as ever, Chris Cornell channeled Led Zeppelin hammering, including a reworked "Spoonman" from his time with Soundgarden.

Rappers Cypress Hill delivered the usual pro-pot rally in front of their longtime "mascot": a giant Buddha with a cannibis leaf on its tummy of contemplation.

Perry Farrell's new project, Satellite Party, featured his latest take on his swirling sound sorcery, though the audience was most excited when he slid into his Jane's Addiction classic "Jane Says."

Other artists included hyperactive new wavers Hot Hot Heat, upstart punks Against Me! and still-on-the-rise alt-pop delight Paramore.

The venue change from past years as the "Inland Invasion" to "L.A. Invasion" may not have thrilled 909 area code residents, but the Home Depot Center was more entry- and exit-friendly and manageable all around than the Hyundai Pavilion in Devore.
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