Besides headlining sets from alternative acts including Twenty One Pilots, Panic! At the Disco and more, KROQ’s annual Almost Acoustic Christmas this past weekend also paid tribute to late singer Scott Weiland, who died on Dec. 3, nine days before this year’s two-day event at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
Weiland was a longtime part of the KROQ family, having played Acoustic Christmas with Stone Temple Pilots in 1994, 2002 and 2006 as well as with Velvet Revolver in 2004. He also appeared at the station’s summer show, Weenie Roast in 1993, 2000, 2001 and 2010 and with Velvet Revolver again in 2004.
The L.A. station, which played retrospective interviews and his music following his passing in Minneapolis, included the video montage between Bastille and Cage The Elephant‘s set Saturday night. And AWOLNation frontman Aaron Bruno included a snippet of STP’s “Dead and Bloated” during “Sail” Saturday at the 2:39 mark of this fan-shot clip below.
Bruno recalled his time on the road with Weiland and the impact “Dead and Bloated” would have on the crowd. “I had the pleasure of touring with STP when Scott was sober,” he tells Billboard. “Every time he sang the intro to that song, the place lit up. He was an inspiring frontman.”
Otherwise, it was a joyfully raucous alt-rock celebration over the course of Almost Acoustic Christmas’ two-night run (Dec. 12 and 13). Speaking with Billboard backstage on night two, Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump kept getting understandably distracted by Chris Cornell’s brilliant, stripped-down set piping in from the Forum stage. “No one can really focus because he’s great,” Stump said.
You couldn’t blame Stump for wishing he was watching as one of the elite voices in rock delivered both his own catalog and his take on “Nothing Compares 2 U” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” For all of the acts on the station’s alt-music extravaganza bill, it’s their year-end holiday party: so many people to see and talk to and not enough time in the night.
Night one featured 2015’s breakout artists, The Struts and Halsey, as well as standout act Twenty One Pilots. After a year of dominating festivals, the Ohio duo of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun took their victory lap on the Forum stage, earning the loudest roar of the night the moment they were announced. Their eight-song set, which opened with “Heavydirtysoul” and closed with “Guns For Hands,” of course drew the biggest pops for “Stressed Out” and “Tear In My Heart.”
Other notable performances on night one included X Ambassadors, Bastille, Cage The Elephant and AWOLNation (Bruno also joined Weezer on stage for “Do You Want To Get High.”) The night ended with a dance party thanks to Disclosure’s DJ set.
If night one was purely a year-end retrospective, night two offered a brief glimpse into 2016 thanks to a set from Panic! At The Disco, whose new album drops in January.
Panic! songs included their cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Vegas Lights,” “Miss Jackson” and the closing “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” as well as the upcoming album’s “Hallelujah” and “Victorious.”
Unlike night one, where Twenty One Pilots went largely unchallenged as the top act, night two rolled out a barrage of highlights following Panic!, with Cold War Kids, Cornell’s aforementioned set, the always stellar Of Monsters And Men and Fall Out Boy.
They all offered something different: Cold War Kids’ set featuring a funk jam; Cornell twisting hard-driving songs like Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” into a jazzy number that put the focus on the power of his voice; Of Monsters And Men showing their immense flair for drama (making them the alternative band most likely to one day win an Oscar for best song or score); and FOB inspiring both musically and Pete Wentz giving a pep talk of sorts. The bassist spoke to the “kids” about how as much as fans credit the band for helping them get through tough times, it’s the kids themselves who “get on the treadmill” or “get through a breakup.”