Following closings in recent years of Gibson Amphitheatre, House of Blues Sunset and the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Irvine Meadows will be the latest longtime institution to say farewell later this year when it’s torn down. Saturday (May 14) marked the final KROQ Weenie Roast at the Irvine, Calif., venue after more than two decades.
That fact was not lost on both artists and attendees like No Doubt’s Tony Kanal and Adrian Young.
“One of the reasons we wanted to come down today is because it is the last Weenie Roast [at Irvine], we’ve had such a history with KROQ and also this venue is such a big deal for us,” Kanal told Billboard. “I came here growing up, sitting on the lawn, seen so many shows here. It’s been an amazing run, and No Doubt’s played here so many times as well.”
“I didn’t know if I was gonna care that much,” Young added. “And then when I got here I realized how much I cared. For a band, this was always a great place to play. Even when you’re the first out of four opening for Ziggy Marley in 1990, it was still great then.”
Maybe it was the mix of sentimentality and eclecticism of an exciting lineup that brought together acts like Miike Snow, Empire of the Sun, Weezer and the Lumineers, but even before the news that Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis was taken from the venue in an ambulance and the band was forced to cancel its headline appearance, Saturday’s Weenie Roast was as memorable as any previous show.
The Chili Peppers’ unfortunate absence, announced on stage by Flea between Empire and Weezer, was made up for a little bit by an unannounced set from the new Blink-182, who came on with no intro a few minutes after eight.
Following a stellar set of sing-along folk from the Lumineers, the rotating stage turned to show, first the Prince symbol in tribute, and then Mark Hoppus, sending the capacity crowd into a frenzy. Opening with “Family Reunion,” the band raced through 40 minutes of their greatest hits, including “The Rock Show,” “What’s My Age Again” and “Dammit.”
“What’s up, weenie roasters?” Hoppus asked the crowd, before adding, “We’re Blink-182, motherf—ers.”
The band teased a couple of new songs, playing brief snippets of two new tracks. The revamped lineup, featuring Matt Skiba in place of Tom DeLonge, showed how exciting the new material could end up being though with a version of their new single, “Bored to Death,” that had the entire crowd on their feet and screaming along. And as they did last year during a few appearances, Hoppus introduced Skiba to the crowd by saying, “Everybody say hello to your new mommy, Matt Skiba.” Skiba then followed with, “Mommy loves you.” The feeling was definitely mutual from the crowd reaction.
The requisite Weenie Roast cameo always brings a jolt of energy, but Blink’s surprise performance was just one main stage highlight, with Empire of the Sun’s Prince tribute, which began with a picture of the late performer and Empire coming out to “Let’s Go Crazy” also standing out. The Australian dance act’s always colorful costumes and superb pop songwriting on the hits “Walking on a Dream” and especially “Alive” were also crowd favorites.
Garbage also tore up the main stage with frontwoman Shirley Manson proving she remains a certified badass rock star on new cuts like “Empty” and a stunning rendition of the Garbage classic “I’m Only Happy When It Rains.”
Other highlights on the main stage included KROQ favorites Panic! at the Disco’s highly energetic set, which included their now regular cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the closing “Victorious” and “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies,” dedicated to Rob Zombie for the hard rocker’s rant at Weenie Roast 2006.
“I’m sick and tired of this f—ing scene” Panic frontman Brendon Urie recalled Zombie saying when he spoke to us backstage before their set. And for the record, Urie was flattered. “I was terrified and then I was like I love this guy,” he said. Miike Snow’s mix of dance and alternative kicked off the main stage at five and the Swedish group was, as always, in top form on “Animal” and “Genghis Khan.”
Before the main stage, the Weenie Roast took on a Warped Tour vibe with two side stages in a side asphalt area showing off some up and coming KROQ talent such as Strumbellas, Lukas Graham, Nothing But Thieves and the day’s revelation, Bishop Briggs.
The L.A. via London singer has one of the year’s standout alternative radio hits with “River” and she proved the song is no fluke with a powerhouse vocal performance that stunned alongside her rhythmic trip-hop beats. Of all the side stage acts Briggs seemed by far most ready to leap to main stage any day now.
The headliner having to cancel day-of could’ve taken a lot of steam out of the show but Weezer, scheduled to go on before the Chili Peppers, were a perfect band to restore the spirit of the crowd, as the audience knew pretty much every word to the veteran group’s impressive litany of alternative hits.
From the opening “Island in the Sun” to the closing “Say It Ain’t So” the crowd remained on their collective feet the entire time as they sang along to every word, saying goodbye to Weenie Roast at Irvine Meadows with a fitting burst of nostalgic joy.