And Yes, Another Of Those Almost Acoustic Chrismas Shows

Everclear were good, real real good. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

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.

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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."

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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.