KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas: The Smashing Pumpkins, My Chemical Romance, Social Distortion
Mon, 13 Dec 2010 07:25:03
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The Smashing Pumpkins struck the perfect balance between grandiose alternative rock and elaborate heavy metal during their transcendent performance at KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas on Saturday.
Billy Corgan once again proved his legendary status with fleet-fingered guitar virtuosity, poetically jarring lyrics and unique delivery. The Pumpkins commenced the set with "The Fellowship" from Teargarden By Kaleidyscope. The song fused psychedelic riffs to swirling vocals, and Corgan sounded rousingly clear over tight strains of delay. Guitarist Jeff Schroeder complemented the frontman's fretwork with succinct and solid axe-slinging, nailing each and every sustained note. "The Fellowship" bled right into "Today," and The Pumpkins infused the classic with an elegant heaviness that was both pristine and powerful.
"Drown" revived the dream of '90s alternative, while adding a sense of modern vigor on the resounding chorus. A clean snap of guitars gave way to Corgan's crooning, and the resulting hum was both gorgeous and chilling. Flanked by two mirrored windmills spinning and a whole lot of fake snow, The Pumpkins took on a mythical pose that allowed the crowd to fall into that wonderful soundscape with them.
Bassist Nicole Fiorentino anchored "Freak" down via a vibrant and vivacious bass stomp. She swayed to the beat with a sexy and style that matched her flawless playing. Mike Byrne's precise percussion rounded out The Pumpkins' assault, illuminating just how airtight this band truly is. "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" devoured everything in its path with a thrash-y fire and steamrolling rhythmic bombast, which only burned brighter on "Tarantula."
"See it's a fun Christmas time," smiled Corgan, before sliding into a tear-jerking acoustic rendition of "Landslide."
"Tonight Tonight" elevated everyone into outer space, sailing like never before to heights of rock 'n' roll divinity, as "Stand Inside Your Love" organically lifted into an entrancing "Eye."
"Heavy Metal Machine" fittingly closed everything out with a bang as Corgan tore through one last invigorating solo, and the band left the stage completely and utterly triumphant. The Smashing Pumpkins founded heavy alternative, and they thankfully remain its gods…
The new gods of that heavy alternative ethos, My Chemical Romance, harnessed a similar spirit. "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" from the band's latest album Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys immediately brought the audience to its feet. Frontman Gerard Way declared, "Everybody wants to change the world, but no one wants to die" in the middle of the song, and the conviction in his eyes was just as loud and palpable as Ray Toro and Frank Iero's riffing.
There's something inspiring about the band's devotion to each and every nuance, and live it comes through infectiously. Apocalyptic wear and tear on the amps complemented the word "Exterminate" plastered on the kick drum center stage. Those little details make My Chemical Romance so timeless. They care, and it was easy to hear that on "Thank You for the Venom." Gerard screamed with a raw punk vitriol on the chorus, as his brother Mikey held down an impenetrable bass line. Toro and Iero volleyed impressive melodies back and forth, churning out metal riffs with a hardcore intensity. "Planetary (GO!)" ignited a dance party for the end of the world as everyone clapped along. Gerard ran back and forth across the stage, perfectly delivering each searing, smart line at the same time.
"I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" saw Toro shine on a massive solo, while "Sing" soared on the harmonies of Gospel-style backup singers. "Welcome to the Black Parade" sparked overpowering crowd singing that brought a smile to Gerard's face. Before "Teenagers," he announced, "This song's about us. This song's about you. Los Angeles, let me hear you fucking scream!"
He got his wish, and My Chemical Romance ripped through another modern classic built on unforgettable guitars and passionate, poignant vocals. James Dewees's somber piano set the mood for "Helena," and it saw the band explode with one final roar. My Chemical Romance translated every inch of intricacy from their albums into the live setting, and it's nothing short of divine.
Before "Cancer" ended the set, Gerard looked out at the crowd saying, "I'm going to be real fucking quiet."
He dedicated the song to his wife, and more lilting piano from Dewees careened around Gerard's mind-blowing and sensitive singing. My Chemical Romance's show was a Christmas present no one would forget.
Other treats included Social Distortion's recklessly awesome punk rock, and Jimmy Eat World's delectable pop. Overall though, epic rock 'n' roll ruled the roost at another incredible Almost Acoustic Christmas.
Were you there?
Watch our exclusive video interview with My Chemical Romance here!
Read our exclusive interview with The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan here!
Watch part 2 of our My Chemical Romance video interview here!