Twenty One Pilots, The Killers, Muse and More Dominate 2019 iHeartRadio ALTer Ego
For the second year in a row, some of the biggest names in alt rock united on The Forum stage in Inglewood, Calif. on Saturday (Jan. 19).
Twenty One Pilots, The Killers, Muse, Weezer and Rise Against ran through a collective arsenal of hits spanning decades, literally providing an alternative for those looking to deviate from the largely pop and hip-hop-dominating music landscape, while relative newcomers Bishop Briggs and The Revivalists brought recent favorites, too.
As people of all ages were seen headbanging from the start of 21P’s pyro-filled opening set to the last moments of Muse’s explosive closing one, a happy fact was proven: alt music isn’t dead.
Here are the highlights from the second annual 2019 iHeartRadio ALTer Ego.
Twenty One Pilots bring the jokes, set a car on fire
Tyler Joseph, the more talkative half of Twenty One Pilots, told the crowd that they had come up with the idea of opening the show a while back. He then joked that once the rest of the bands were announced, he and bandmate Josh Dun thought, “That makes sense.” Joseph also announced their intention to establish a new phrase -- “save the best for first” -- which Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo had his own response for, but more on that later. The duo then employed their usual physical stunts and pyrotechnics; anyone who’s seen their tour will be familiar with them setting a car aflame, but it’s impressive every time.
Tom Morello shreds a guitar with his teeth during Rise Against’s set
Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath dedicated "Re-Education (Thru Labor)" to the teachers of Los Angeles, who have been striking over a labor dispute for the past week. "To all the public school teachers, to all the educators, this song's for you,” he said, earning thunderous applause. The band’s energy then skyrocketed when McIllrath brought out a surprise guest, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, to perform their collaboration “How Long.” In true rockstar fashion, Morello stuck a guitar pick between his teeth and proceeded to play flawlessly. (Morello also recently performed at a teachers’ rally in L.A. amid the strike).
Bishop Briggs dominates as the solo woman on the bill
British musician and singer-songwriter Bishop Briggs was the sole woman on the lineup, and she told the crowd that she wasn’t about to take that responsibility lightly. "I'm the woman on this lineup!” she yelled mid-performance. "There was the Women's March today,” she added, “and I just want to thank iHeart and 98.7 for representing female musicians.” Briggs then weathered some tech issues ahead of her single “Baby,” but got through it like a pro, chatting with the crowd about the song’s meaning. She closed out the set with breakout hit “River,” drawing everyone to their feet as if by magnetic force.
I WAS CRYING THEN & IM CRYING NOW https://t.co/ee7XrpFP8l— Bishop Briggs (@thatgirlbishop) January 20, 2019
Weezer’s entire set, basically
Rivers & Co. set off the first confetti cannons of the night (by Muse, the floor was three layers of confetti deep) during “Buddy Holly,” then gave fans a taste of their upcoming Black Album with a performance of lead single “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” Cuomo also called back to Twenty One Pilots’ opening quip, retorting, “Save the best for the middle.” Still, he made amends by admitting he’d love for 21P to invite Weezer on tour this summer. Oh, and they played “Africa,” as they likely will for the rest of time.
Muse prove they are from the future
If you’re new to the alt rock institution that is Muse, you might not know that it’s kind of their thing to embrace technology, and more or less invent their own instruments. At ALTer Ego, frontman Matt Bellamy played his custom “Mattocaster,” a guitar of his own design with MIDI capability and a touch screen. Reason enough to geek out, until one noticed that bassist Chris Wolstenholme, too, was switching between a guitar with light-up inlays that changed with each song -- and a unique doubleneck bass, which also featured a touch screen. Truly, we're all living in 2019, but Muse is already in 3019.
iHeartRadio ALTer Ego 2019 Setlists
Twenty One Pilots
Holding on to You
You & I
All My Friends
Wish I Knew You
House on Fire
Prayer of the Refugee
Re-Education (Through Labor)
The Way I Do
Undone - The Sweater Song
Island in the Sun
Can't Knock the Hustle
Pork and Beans
Say It Ain't So
Somebody Told Me
Read My Mind
All These Things That I've Done
When You Were Young
Supermassive Black Hole
Time Is Running Out