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
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
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
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
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."
have said it better