By Ramon Gonzales
It’s pretty easy to romanticize the high of a great concert. The clichés, when it comes to spiritualizing music are aplenty for good reason. This past weekend, the 27th annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas consumed Southern California with a lineup of artists that had the goods to turn a good weekend into something memorable. While there was so much happening onstage, there were plenty of times that the spectacle was more about what the reaction in the seats and down on the floor. If for just a few hours, the thousands in attendance for both sold out nights came together to laugh, dance, sing, and maybe even get drunk, all to the same soundtrack. While the focus of most recap coverage always at least makes mention of the fans, this time, it seemed more important to tell at least of few of their stories.
Here are a few faces in the crowd that proved this weekend was more than just another concert.
Michael and Susan Braezeale
Michael and Susan arrived early. In fact, the doors to the Forum had just opened and already the pair was settling into their perch. All smiles and flashing a visible sense of excitement, the duo managed to snag a quick selfie before having to answer questions for a stranger. This was an especially meaningful day as this was Susan’s very first Almost Acoustic Christmas and something she says was, “bucket list” for her. Michael further explained that Susan had grown up in Southern California her whole life and had never made a single one, despite being a dedicated KROQ fan. In addition to looking forward to The Strumbrellas, Susan confided that she is currently, courageously battling cancer. With every excuse in the world to skip out on a Saturday at the rock show, Michael and Susan were not only one of the first to arrive, they were some of the last to leave.
Jacob The Dancer
There were a fair share of kids in the crowd for both nights of Almost Acoustic Christmas, but not a one of them had the kind of energy Jacob did. As KROQ’s resident DJ Jeremiah Red concocted a blend of beats, Jacob not only danced like he was the only one in the arena, but he sang every word of every song. When Red dropped a Twenty One Pilots track however, Jacob lost it. His dad chucked and explained, “He’s the biggest Twenty One Pilots fan.”
Mike would continue to talk about how he pulled a fast one on his son and tricked him into thinking he was taking him to work. “I work for the movie business so I take him to work with me sometimes. When he saw me driving into the Forum parking lot he was upset like, ‘Dad we didn’t get tickets,’ and then I surprised him.” Jacob eventually stopped dancing but only to take a quick photo.
Green Day Diehard
During their headlining set for night 2, Green Day would bring up a few fans from the audience to perform right alongside the band. However, 14 years earlier during Green Day’s Pop Disaster tour, Jay had his share of the spotlight. “Billie asked for someone to come up and my brother put me up on his shoulders. Billie pointed at me and said, ‘swear to God you know how to play?’” The then-teenage Jay would climb onstage at Irvine Meadows and perform Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge” with Green Day. Jay cites Green Day’s 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours and Dookie as being pretty formative for him. In fact, the photos and ticket stub from that fateful day in Irvine are framed at Jay’s parents house. “The very first song I learned to play was ‘Welcome To Paradise’. I had to argue with me teacher to show it to me.”
15 Years and 50 Shows Deep
Toni-Lynne actually found Weezer by chance. Back in 2001, she was a seat filler at the MTV Movie Awards. Just to put things into historical context, two of the dudes from American Pie introduced Weezer. It’s then that Toni-Lynne explains that she fell in love with the band. “The very next day I went out and bought everything they had recorded.” Since then Toni-Lynne has amassed a collection of 171 different articles of Weezer memorabilia. From an autographed custom license plate to a fresh lime green Weezer cellphone (way before full color display and touch screens) the collection is as unique as it is comprehensive.
Even more impressive was that at 8 months pregnant, Toni-Lynne was celebrating her 50th time seeing the band live by making the trek to the second night of Almost Acoustic Christmas. Yep – FIFTY.