IRVINE, California — For people itching to hear some of this summer's most anticipated new music, the place to be this weekend was Saturday's KROQ-FM Weenie Roast y Fiesta, where the lineup was stacked with bands on the verge of releasing long-awaited new material.
The day kicked off with the Plain White T's over on the second stage, a.k.a. "stage dos" in keeping with the day's Latin theme. The former You Hear It First pick was followed by fellow YHIF alums Silversun Pickups as well as Swedish whistlers Peter, Bjorn and John and Rancid's Tim Armstrong playing solo and delivering scorching riffs under an equally scorching sun. Not to worry, though — there were free sombreros in the Fiesta Village, a place for concertgoers could snack, buy merch and cool off.
As things wound down on stage dos, KROQ darlings Tiger Army took the main stage (no witty Spanish title here). The psychobilly band's "Forever Fades Away" is the current most-requested and most-played song on the L.A. rock station, and the Bay Area trio powered through that and other tracks off their upcoming Music From Regions Beyond, due June 5.
Once their set ended, the revolving stage made the first of many 180 degree turns, revealing a plugged-in and ready to go Bravery, who also had new music to share. Although the crowd was still filing into the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, the very danceable "Public Service Announcement" inspired a fiesta mood. The band followed with the new single "Time Won't Let Me Go," which hits stores Tuesday on the Bravery's new album, The Sun and the Moon.
Next up were 30 Seconds to Mars, who are no strangers to KROQ's music fests, having played KROQ's Inland Invasion show just last year. "It's weird to think that we are veterans of the KROQ shows now, because I was remembering actually sneaking backstage [at a Weenie Roast] to try and watch a band from the side of the stage a number of years ago," frontman Jared Leto recalled.
When the stage spun around for 30 Seconds to Mars' set, the audience instead found a group of folk dancers showing off traditional Latin American moves and fashions. Soon, however, Leto hit the stage ... wearing a sombrero. Always one to put on a spectacle, he also made his way deep into the crowd — twice — even singing closing number "The Kill" as he made his way up to the cheap seats.
With the crowd now suitably amped, one of the most anticipated bands of the day, Bad Religion, made its way onstage as Linkin Park's Chester Bennington and other artists took a side-stage vantage point to watch. Among their catalog of hits, the Bad boys treated the fiesta-goers to the new single "Honest Goodbye," off July 10's New Maps of Hell. Scoring points for timeliness, the band also cranked out "Los Angeles Is Burning," calling to mind the actual L.A. wildfires from earlier this month.
While Queens of the Stone Age kept Bad Religion's energy going onstage — with new material as well, including the fresh single "Sick, Sick, Sick" — the party was really starting backstage. Those lucky enough to score backstage passes enjoyed a bar, "Guitar Hero" (appropriate, since three bands on the day's bill have songs in the game), and general people/hipster watching/ogling. Both Leto and MySpace phenomenon Tila Tequila made for popular backstage photo ops.
Following an all too sunny set by Interpol (another band stuffing CD racks on July 10) that was cut short due to equipment problems, the revolving stage spun around to reveal a surprise performance that at first caused more head-scratching than high-fiving. A 14-member a cappella group in tuxedos was putting its unique spin on Incubus' "Dig." Confusion turned to screams, however, when Incubus' Brandon Boyd and Mike Einziger walked out a minute later to join in.
While the Killers had been scheduled to appear in that slot, last-minute health problems sidelined frontman Brandon Flowers. "There was another band with a lead singer named Brandon and he got sick," Boyd jokingly told MTV News. "I know what that's like, and it sucks, so they called another band with a singer named Brandon because that's kind of the theme they were going for." The power of YouTube connected Incubus and the singing group, called Ithacapella, after Boyd saw an online clip of their version of "Dig."
The last time the next band had an album out, YouTube was barely a dream. But Orange County's own Social Distortion did what they do best, playing the favorites that will appear on their greatest-hits album due June 26, complete with the new track "Far Behind."
The crowd instantly recognized the next act within the first few riffs of its opening number, going into a frenzy that lasted throughout the entire heart-pounding set. Singer Jonathan Davis even prompted a rarely seen over-the-head hand clap from a SoCal audience for the entirety of "Got the Life." New material came in the form of "Evolution," from July 31's still-untitled new album (see "Korn Are Cracking Up Over Eighth LP's 'Gothic Feel,' Munky Says").
Davis was clearly beaming backstage after the performance, which was the band's first full gig with some new members. "It was pretty much a coming-out show in the new lineup because we got [guitarist] Clint [Lowery] from Sevendust and we got [percussionist] Joey [Jordison] from Slipknot up playing with us and it's a different Korn," he said. "It sounds insane — the drums are insane, everything going on is completely different. So after tonight I think we're really, really stoked."
Closing out the evening were locals Linkin Park. "We ... grew up listening to KROQ, and I remember coming here last year just as a fan of the show and walking around seeing the different bands," guitarist Brad Delson said backstage, "so not only to be playing it this year but to be headlining is a huge honor."
As the band kicked things off with "One Step Closer," the crowd showed it still had plenty energy left to cheer, sing and mosh to the most anticipated act of the day's bill. Fans hadn't forgotten any of the old songs, singing along during "Numb" and "Somewhere I Belong," among others, but they showed the same amount of enthusiasm for new tracks off the just-released Minutes to Midnight.
When Linkin Park were done, though, and the last note had finally faded away, concertgoers were confronted with something not at all new to them: an enormous traffic headache as some 16,000 people all left the same parking lot at once. Aye-yi-yi!
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.