Every year, KROQ brings the best acts to the stage and this year was no exception. The two-night event featured a good range of riveting artists including Cage the Elephant, The 1975, Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Raconteurs, Jimmy Eat World, and so many more.
For the 30th annual KROQ Absolut Almost Acoustic Christmas, the show moved to the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. Although it's a bit of a long drive for people who live on the west side of Los Angeles, the two-night event was an unforgettable celebration. The Honda Center was all decked out—each side of the stage had two large LED Christmas trees and even a disco ball. The venue also had a huge floor pit where fans were able to get up-close-and-personal with their favorite bands.
Lineup: Cage The Elephant, Beck, Jimmy Eat World, Young The Giant, Angels & Airwaves, Cold War Kids, The Head & The Heart, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and KROQ's DJ Jeremiah Red.
Night one began with a performance from the British indie rock outfit Catfish and the Bottlemen. Catfish are still relatively new to people but they absolutely know how to bring their A-game by performing like rock veterans. It doesn't hurt that they've previously toured with the likes of Green Day. Van McCann is a wonderful frontman, he definitely knows how to rock the stage and show off his powerful voice. For their short 20-minute set, Catfish and the Bottlemen performed popular hits including "Longshot," "Kathleen" and "Cocoon."
Up next, The Head & the Heart entertained the audience with a campy fun sing-along set of hits including "All We Ever Knew" and "Missed Connection," while KROQ staple Cold War Kids were a good addition for the older crowd. Angels & Airwaves, Tom DeLonge’s post-Blink 182 group, were one of the most anticipated acts of the night and thrilled fans with songs including "Surrender" and "Heaven." Young the Giant returned for their second year in a row and reminded everyone how good they are live. The band has found a fun, grooving sound that works perfectly with its colorful artistic aesthetic.
Jimmy Eat World was the only band to remember they were performing at a Christmas show and delighted the crowd by playing “Last Christmas” by Wham! The band also took fans back to their youthful days by performing old hits like “Sweetness” and “The Middle.”
This summer, Beck and Cage the Elephant toured the US together in the Night Running Tour and ironically closed Night One of Acoustic Christmas. Dressed in his trusty fedora hat, Beck was one of the most entertaining sets of the night. The seasoned pro knows how to pump up a crowd as he began his 50-minute set with the energetic song "Loser." Just like his 13th studio album Colors, Beck lit up the Honda Center with an assortment of colorful lights and graphics. His entire catalog is filled with fun songs you just want to dance to. He delighted fans with hits including "Up All Night," "Wow," "Dream," "Where It's At" and more.
Cage the Elephant has been having a great 2019. Earlier this year, they released their fifth studio album Social Cues and on Nov. 20. It was announced that the album had been nominated for Best Rock Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. So it was a no brainer to have them close the night. Frontman Matt Shultz is not your typical performer, he takes risks and expresses himself through costumes changes and props. For their show at KROQ Absolut Almost Acoustic Christmas, Shultz came running to the stage wearing a white mask, helmet, and holding a parachute—all while trying to sing the exhilarating song, "Mess Around." The crowd ate it all up, loudly cheering and singing along to every note. Matt's brother and lead guitarist Brad Shultz also took the spotlight by pumping up and interacting with the crowd. Fans went crazy as the band brought Beck back out for a rendition of "Trouble." Cage the Elephant ended night one with the high energy single "Teeth."
Catfish and the Bottlemen
The Head & The Heart
Cold War Kids
Angels & Airwaves
Young The Giant
Jimmy Eat World
Cage The Elephant
Text and photos by Jacqueline Naranjo