P.O.D. Set New York Alive With Free VMA Show

Band battles heat, sickness to play to energetic crowd, 'TRL' viewers.

NEW YORK — "This is probably the only time Mandy Moore will open for P.O.D.," Carson Daly quipped Wednesday as he rattled off the day's most requested videos on "TRL." Moore's "Crush" took number two, and then P.O.D.'s "Alive" nabbed the top slot. Instead of broadcasting a snippet of the video, "TRL" cut to a live feed of the band performing the song onstage at a free VMA Music week concert downtown in Battery Park.

Vocalist Sonny Sandoval dove into the positive opening line, "Everyday is a new day/ I'm thankful for every breath I take," with burning energy, directing the track's blend of percussive raps and tuneful melody at the strangely

clean-cut but energetic crowd that gathered for the show. Before he even reached the chorus, he was crouched on the side of the stage leaning over the audience, his face raspberry-red and glistening with sweat. While Sonny

sang, guitarist Marcos lunged into the song's powerful, percussive riffs while bassist Traa and drummer Wuv kept the rhythm surging.

On the TV screen it looked like P.O.D. were in peak form, and they were. Outside in the heat, though, things weren't so cut and dry. "I feel sick as a dog," Sonny griped earlier in the afternoon before the band began to play. "I'm

not even gonna sing, I'm just gonna pass the mic to you, my man," he told a shaven-headed fan at the front of the stage.

From the way he coughed and gargled throat spray, it was apparent the singer was battling a cold, but he was determined to give Daly a performance to remember and the crowd a show it might never forget. Though their publicist said P.O.D. were only scheduled to play six songs, the band rocked out 12 tunes — though three were different run-throughs of "Alive." Throughout, it was clear that, although the band was there in part to plug its single and new album, Satellite, on "TRL," the members were there for the fans.

Through the hour-long performance, Sonny repeatedly made sure the crowd had enough water and shared his throat medicine with whoever wanted some. And when someone threw a Warriors basketball jersey to him before "Outkast," he happily donned the shirt.

Although the band's set was interrupted by several "TRL" cutaways, P.O.D. kept the show rolling by launching into one high-impact number after another. Even when they were told they had four minutes until they went live with "Alive," Sonny turned to the MTV producer and said "If you gotta stop us go right ahead," then led the band through a propane-fueled version of "Hard Time."

The show combined new songs such as the combustive album opener "Set It Off," the blazing riff-filled "Messenjah" and the hardcore/reggae amalgam "Without Jah, Nothin' " with tracks from the band's 1999 record, The

Fundamental Elements of Southtown. These included the group's first major-label single, "Southtown," and "Outkast" and "Lie Down."

Nearly all the songs adhered to the group's successful formula, blending aggressive raps with more tuneful vocals and juxtaposing abrasive guitar passages with airy hybrids of Latin music and psychedelia. And while Sonny's lyrics were largely life-affirming and vaguely religious, they were never preachy, and they sounded caustic enough to please any nü-metal fan.

Also, there's no trivializing the role of Marcos, who instinctively knows just how much gunpowder to load into a riff, and just when to switch to a delicate, atmospheric passage to obtain maximal dynamic groove. Judging from

his wide-ranging arsenal of sounds, it's obvious that he's spent as much time listening to Pink Floyd and Santana as he has Rage Against the Machine and Limp Bizkit.

After playing their final version of "Alive," during which Sonny spread his arms Jesus-style and dove into the hyped-up crowd, P.O.D. closed the show with "Rock the Party (Off the Hook)," which provided the perfect blend of

apocalyptic echo and boogie-down groove.

"We are so blessed today," Sonny said as the band finished the song's last crashing volleys of sound. "God Bless. God Love." Then he left the stage to seek some pharmacy cold medicine.

Catch all the sizzlin', star-packed VMA action direct from Miami on August 28. MTV News' preshow kicks things off at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT, followed by big show at 8 p.m.

Vote for the Viewer's Choice Award, see a timeline of MTV Video Music Awards history, and relive highlights of last year's event. And for more MTV Video Music Awards news, check out the MTV News VMA archive.