By Ramon Gonzales

As the seats began to fill in and the clamor in The Forum began to swell, there was a t-shirt that almost emitted a magnetic pull. In an arena that holds thousands, there was one dude that had the sand to wear a tshirt that made a very simple, yet very real statement. In big, bold, very legible white lettering the guy’s t-shirt read,

“2016 Sucked.”

Everyone that saw the guy’s shirt threw him a nod as almost to say, “for sure, dude.” People seemed to understand that it wasn’t a pessimistic statement, it was just matter of fact. A combination of the legends lost this year and what feels like very uncertain times, to wear a shirt that acknowledges that the last 12 months have been crap isn’t being negative, it’s just good, common sense.

Seeing the shirt early in the evening however worked in very interesting way. As each performance wowed the fans of the Forum, there were things happening that reminded everyone that despite some rough times, there is plenty of good out there. Maybe it’s cliché to think that rock n roll could save the world, but if only for one night, a ticket to the rock show might preserve a bit of sanity.

2016, did in fact, suck. Hard. However, here are some of the observations from this weekend’s Almost Acoustic Christmas that proves that 2017 doesn’t have to.

Tough Guy-Free Circle Pits

Normally, when you combine hefty plastic cups of beer and the dynamic percussion stylings of Mr. Travis Barker, it’s likely things are going to a bit heated in the pit. Despite Trav going to town on the skins and the beer lathering the floor of the Forum, the  circular collision was all in good fun. Crashing and falling was followed by hugging, singing, and strangers helping each other to their feet to scream as Blink charged through their blistering set.

Dancing In The Dark

There were a handful of times throughout the weekend where strangers found themselves drawn together and dancing. This wasn’t the kind of dancing that involves working up a sweat either. Strangers we’re pressed together and actually slow dancing while bands like Kings of Leon, The Head and The Heart, and M83 set the vibe. In a place were people are leery about saying hello to strangers, this was a sight to see.

A Complete Disregard for Stupid Rules

It’s common knowledge that there is a list of supposed rules that reference a sort of concert etiquette. No one really knows who was the architect of such sh***y mandates but here is list to jog your memory. 1. Don’t wear the band t-shirt of the band you are going to see. 2. Refrain from blasting the band you are going to see during the car ride to the concert. 3. Spend more time with your face in your phone than directed toward the stage.

Yeah, not so much. Fans were hitting the merch tables and immediately strapping on their Green Day, Weezer, and Beck gear. In fact, the older the shirt, the more love the fan got. People could care less about some contrived sense of decorum and just wanted to be around other people that loved the bands as much as they did. Phone came out, but the only to capture and share the party.

Respect Paid

Among the rank of the bands on the bill for both nights, there was an unfiltered sense of admiration and respect that the younger acts wore proudly for their elders. Bands like The Strumbrellas, The Head and the Heart, Bishop Briggs, and X Ambassadors all went above and beyond to tip their hats to the KROQ mainstays that anchored the latter half of the night. Even among peers, guys like Davey Havok took time to show love to Jimmy Eat World and flex a bit of class between tunes. For this one, the performers were fans just like the people in the seats.

Behind the Scenes

Here is a sentence almost no one wants to hear. Let’s do some quick math. Over the course of two days the Almost Acoustic Christmas churned out performances from 15 different bands. Factoring in 15 different soundchecks, 15 different stage configurations, 15 different sets of lighting cues, 15 different input lists, as well as instruments, gear, set lists – it becomes very clear what the magnitude of this kind of production entails. With a stage that not only looked spectacular but really did convey the spirit of the season (there was even the occasional dusting of snow) the effort in executing a show like this is something overlooked and it shouldn’t be. Few people take that kind of pride in their work and to see it come together in a way that translates as seamless is not only impressive, it’s admirable. To know people care that much is cause for hope.


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