DEVORE, California — Beck's band played the kitchen table, the Arcade Fire played motorcycle helmets and Travis Barker played Dr. Dre at the anything-goes Inland Invasion on Saturday, the unofficial end to the summer festival season in California.
While KROQ-FM's Weenie Roast traditionally marks the start of under-the-sun concert fun (see "Grohl's Nipple Squeezed, Audioslave Play With 'Fire' At Weenie Roast"), for the last five years the Los Angeles station has also capped it off with the Inland Invasion. Typically, the festival has focused more on honoring some of alternative rock's most influential acts; Devo and Tears for Fears headlined last year. But the event went slightly more modern this year, with Weezer, Beck, Oasis, Garbage and 311 among the top names — who made big debuts in the mid-'90s (which explains Cake and Live).
The '80s were represented with Madness and Fishbone, but the afternoon slots were mostly filled with up-and-comers like the Arcade Fire, Bloc Party, Jet, Kasabian and the Bravery. The newest band on the bill, however, was Blink-182 drummer Barker and DJ AM, making their public debut.
The concept is simple — Barker drums along to AM's DJing — but the execution was far more exciting than it sounds. First, AM spun mostly mash-ups, and interesting ones at that. Mixing AC/DC's "Back in Black" with Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" sounded oddly natural, while Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" with the Game's "How We Do" was clever. Barker played drums to an a cappella rock or rap vocal track (Dre's "The Next Episode" was brilliant), or he added multiple layers and fills to the existing beats — regardless, he was constantly banging away, and dripped with sweat after the 30-minute set. "I literally go jogging and stuff to stay in shape for this," he said backstage.
On a beautiful 80-degree afternoon, the sold-out audience at the Hyundai Pavilion came early, but didn't get fully to its feet until local favorites 311, Beck and Weezer hit the stage.
Culling mostly from their first few albums, 311 maintained a high-energy vibe capped by a group drumline. Beck also got creative with percussion, when his band returned after an acoustic set to sit around a kitchen table and beat on the various glasses and dishes with silverware.
Beck split time between his new Guero, including a funkified rendition of "Black Tambourine," complete with a breakdancer (straight out of Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" video — but with a tambourine, of course), and older hits like "Loser" and "Devil's Haircut," which he reinvented by twisting and turning in different directions (a little country here, a little soul there).
Weezer played a pure greatest-hits set, seamlessly transitioning from "My Name Is Jonas" to "We Are All on Drugs" to "Buddy Holly." At one point, drummer Pat Wilson grabbed a guitar to rip through the end of Queen's "We Will Rock You," prompting the rest of the band to share his drums.
After frontman Rivers Cuomo, hardly recognizable sans glasses, strummed an acoustic "Holiday in the Sun" from the middle of the venue, the rest of Weezer returned for "Undone (The Sweater Song)," during which a fan was brought up onstage to play the guitar part.
Between Live's Ed Kowalczyk, the Bravery's Sam Endicott (who wore the black suit and eye shadow as usual, despite promising shorts and a Hawaiian shirt backstage) and Oasis' Liam Gallagher, the Inland Invasion stage certainly saw its share of dynamic frontmen. Taking the cake, however, was the fest's only frontwoman, Garbage's Shirley Manson.
With her bright-red lipstick (and hair!) clashing with her black denim skirt, black net stockings and black leather boots, Manson shook, spun and slithered around to hit after hit. During the instrumental breaks in "Bad Boyfriend," she stared into the crowd and moaned. And later, she jumped off the stage and ran through the aisles, singing the entire time.
Also spreading their show past the stage was the Arcade Fire, whose guitarist literally dove over the barricade to get closer to fans. And that was hardly noticeable during their frenetic set, which began with a simple French horn playing the opening notes of "Wake Up," but quickly exploded into a small army of multi-instrumentalists tearing into the music and screaming the words to song after song. (Even bandmembers with microphones sang along.)
The band's Régine Chassagne was entertaining enough on her own, jumping from piano to drums to xylophone, and miming her way around an invisible box as she sang "Haiti."
Due to heavy early traffic, the Arcade Fire arrived (with gear) just minutes before showtime and dealt with technical difficulties for much of the set. But it was all for the better for the audience, who got to watch them destroy their instruments after the last song.
Hey, what better way to end the season?
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.