ATN correspondent Clare Kleinedler attended the "Almost Acoustic Christmas" show held by San Jose radio station KOME at the San Jose State Event Center on Saturday (Dec. 16). Performing at the show was a mega-lineup: Tripping Daisies, Jawbreaker, Garbage, The Rentals, Radiohead, No Doubt, Toadies, Sonic Youth, Everclear, and Oasis: Here's her report: The concept is a good one. Get a bunch of alterna-bands together, charge 20 bucks a ticket and donate the proceeds to a good cause. Have a radio station sponsor the show to get the word out and presto! A great show, a great price and a great cause.
Yeah, in a perfect world, maybe...
KOME's "Almost Acoustic
Christmas" show was, unfortunately, more of a marketing strategy for the radio
station than anything else. The concert was to benefit numerous AIDS
foundations, but KOME, the South Bay's behemoth alternative station, was so
busy patting themselves on the back about what a great thing they had done for
mankind that they barely even mentioned the cause during the entire 5-plus hour
gig. What they did do was have numerous obnoxious deejays running the
event, screaming into microphones during breaks aboutyou guessed ithow
great KOME is to have brought you, the audience, such an exciting show.
Despite all the political bullshit, the performances were at least half-decent. Garbage played an incredible set; particularly impressive was singer Shirley Manson. The band cranked through a half-hour of top-notch tunes, with "Stupid Girl" and "Queer" standing out as the highlights. Jawbreaker, Everclear and the Toadies played short but lively sets as well, doing their best to make the most of 20-minute time slots.
Holiday cheers to: Radiohead, one of the best live acts around in my book (if you haven't seen them live, go already). Although the band had to deal with poor sound, they raged through songs like "Just" and "My Iron Lung" without a hitch. Oasis cranked out seven of their best songs, including the Modern Rock/MTV hit "Wonderwall," "Live Forever" and "Champagne Supernova." Singer Liam Gallagher even moved (gasp!) around the stage, and I think I may have even caught a glimpse of him tapping his toes! No Doubt and The Rentals stood out as two of the most entertaining and talented newcomers, playing energetic sets that brought the sold-out crowd to an enormously loud level.
Sonic Youth make more noise than music [Editor's note: This is a good thing. Noise is good!], banging their guitars on the speakers and throwing their mikes at the audience. And then there was Tripping Daisies, who played only three songs, three more than I needed to hear. Why they even bothered, Santa only knows.
Santa's little helpers: Backstage during the show, the bands passed through, giving me their thoughts about the whole deal. Matt Sharp of The Rentals (and Weezer) thought the show was "surprising, because I can't believe we're playing on the same stage as Sonic Youth." Producer-cum-drummer Butch Vig thoroughly enjoyed the show, saying that he felt his band, Garbage, played a "sloppy but spirited show," and added "I thought the vibe from the crowd was incredible." Singer Shirley Manson focused on the charity of the event, saying "I think having all these bands come together for such a good cause is amazing. It is a real thrill being here tonight."
Other bands seemed a little uncertain. Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher wandered around like a kid in a candy store, telling me he was happy because "I have my laminate (pass), and I'm hanging out with friends." Radiohead drummer Phil Selway could only say that he felt the show was "hectic," and Toadies bassist Lisa Umbarger complained about the food service. "Chips and salsa is not enough! Bands need a good hot meal before they go on," she said, unimpressed with the various snack foods laid out for the performers.
Unholiday un-cheer: Another major annoyance was the average age of the audience: the majority of the crowd was about 12 years old. And they were little fuckers too, running around, slamming each other, screaming at the sight of anyone who was, or even looked like they were in a band. Case in point: While I was interviewing Matt Sharp, a group of five or six pre-pubescent girls ran up to us. The leader of this group tugged at Matt's sleeve, screeching "Omigod! It's the guy from The Rentals! I'm pissing in my pants right now!" "Please don't leave me," Matt pleaded as I made a beeline for the food table. Sorry, Matt, but my babysitting years are far behind me.
And yet another downer: None of the bands played acoustic sets. Radiohead and Oasis performed two acoustic songs each, but the rest was all electric, baby. I think a better name for the show would've been the "Absolutely Electric Christmas." It was a strange show indeed. The bands gave it their best shot, but overall, the commercialization of what was supposed to be a charity event overshadowed the entire concert. I think Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien spoke for the majority when he expressed his feelings about the evening in this statement:
"Weird. It's all very weird."
I couldn't have said it better myself.