Night two of the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas technically started out on the wrong foot. With illness forcing Morrissey to cancel the day prior, the bad news would’ve understandably caused a slow start to the shenanigans on a Sunday, but such was not the case. In fact, ticket holders for night two showed up early, many of them decked out in light up Santa hats and ugly Christmas sweaters. There was a unique excitement that permeated throughout the Forum floor and into the upper levels of the building, arguably more so than night one. The result was an evening of performances that all could’ve punctuated the weekend all their own, with highlights as aplenty from the get-go. Every performance managed to compliment the one prior, with the fans in the stands ensuring the energy never dipped.
Vance Joy undoubtedly rose to the task of starting out Sunday. Skipping the subtleties, the Aussie wasted zero time in rallying fans to clap their hands and sing along. Joyce brand of singer-songwriter driven Folk Took on an interesting new dynamic as fans abandoned their seats and began moving along in rhythm with everything Joy was doing on stage. Songs like “Fire and the Flood,” “Riptide,” and “Lay it on Me” went from solemn to celebratory as the fans made sure Joy heard them matching every lyric.
Checking in with the first highlight of Sunday night, X Ambassador’s Sam Harris stepped out front and center to address the Forum. Speaking directly to every ethnicity, every orientation, and immigrants regardless of statuses, Harris championed the notion of never having to feel afraid to be who you are. Shifting his focus to those that would oppose his assertion, Harris remained defiant. “We will never silence ourselves and we will never back down from a fight.” The frontman and multi-instrumentalist harnessed that same fervor with tunes like “Renegades” and “Jungle.” Staking a claim for Performance of the Night, Harris managed to weaken everyone’s knees during the band’s latest song, “Ahead of Myself,” by hitting some high notes that shouldn’t be humanly possible.
Offering season’s greetings from Glasgow, Scotland, Franz Ferdinand began the danceable portion of the evening. Selections like “No You Girls” and “Do You Want To” riled the fans, as the entire arena began to sway back and forth in unison. Flexing one of the best crescendos in a rock song, the thump, thump, thump of “Take Me Out” was a license for the entire Forum to cut loose. This was one of a handful of moments where the crowd really contributed to the overall spectacle of Almost Acoustic Christmas.
During his introduction, our guy Stryker promised all action during Walk The Moon’s stage time. Suffice to say Stryker might have understated what was coming. Celebrating the very recent release of their latest, What If Nothing, the band treated the audience to new tracks like “Surrender,” “Headphones,” and “Kamikaze,” all of which managed to ratchet up the energy in the room. Usually, the “here’s a new song” portion of any set creates a bit of a lull. For Walk The Moon, however, the band’s almost frantic performance pace more than made up for the unfamiliarity of the new tunes. Tallying the next highlight of the evening, WTM’s renditions of “Shut Up and Dance” and “Anna Sun” sent The Forum reeling. Fans couldn’t sing along loud enough, though they sure did try.
Phoenix had what was probably the most interactive set of the night. Frontman Thomas Mars commanded the crowd to create a wave of blue light as thousands of glow sticks moved side to side during the chorus of “Fior Di Latte.” Mars would then take the tallest point onstage as he finished out “1901” high atop a speaker stack. Mars would end the time onstage with a move that is destined to go down as Almost Acoustic Christmas legend. As the band extended the ending of “Ti Amo Di Piu,” Mars used every bit of microphone cable he could to crowd surf to about the dead center of the Forum floor. There, Mars used fans’ hands to create a pedestal. He then asked for beers. Mars would raise his borrowed cups of beer as the arena lost their mind. Toasting one of the best sets of the night, Mars scored yet another highlight for night two.
Championing the Sacred Hearts Club, Foster the People sweetened the pot with a collection of tunes that featured old favorites and fresh cuts from their summer release. Songs like “Lotus Eater.” “Pay The Man,” and the closer, “Loyal Like Sid and Nancy” showcased the band’s musical maturation. The dynamic pop songs were detailed enough to appease the artist and lively enough to make sure the listener never gets lost. The band also managed to pay homage to their predecessors as they nailed a rendition of “Blitzkrieg Bop” from The Ramones. Playing to the fans, the band made sure to include “Houdini” and forever-catchy “Pumped Up Kicks.”
The ebb and flow of the evening was amplified when The Lumineers took the stage. During an evening that felt fast-paced, especially energized and downright loud, the Denver collective took command of an arena and with slow-moving songs that genuinely soared. From “Flowers In Your Hair” to “Sleep On the Floor,” in both the music and the message, The Lumineers calmed the hours of drinking and dancing by compelling the crowd to stop and listen. Of course, there were moments where the audience had their chance to contribute as singles like “Ophelia” and “Ho Hey” became colossal with the help of thousands of voices. The band also paid tribute to one of their inspirations with a rendition of Tom Petty’s “Walls (Circus)” that tugged strongly at the heartstrings. Capping their time with “Stubborn Love,” The Lumineers contributed one of the more profound highlights of the night. The kids call it “all the feels” but it was hard to not feel sentimental about soaking in the song among thousands of people.
There could be no better band to reignite a party than Weezer. In fact, the band wasted no time as they opened with ‘Say It Ain’t So.” The song rallied the crowd so well that Rivers never really needed to sing a single word. The band managed to sneak in a new tune called “Happy Hour” while never straying too far from the catalog of hits. It just wouldn’t have been a proper Almost Acoustic Christmas without, “Undone,” “Hashpipe,” and “Buddy Holly.” All of which seemed to prompt a louder and louder shrill from the fans. In what was properly the coolest moment of the night, Rivers mentioned that Weezer would be touring with Pixies next year. In professing his love for the band, Weezer covered “Where Is My Mind?” and Inglewood erupted.
For the finale of the 2017 Almost Acoustic Christmas, The Killers emerged onstage to the kind of welcome that made the first few seconds of their opening song, (“The Man”) nearly indiscernible. The first sight of Brandon Flowers incited pandemonium and the volume never really subsided. Considering that the band followed up with “Somebody Told Me” and a cover of “This Charming Man” by The Smiths, naturally, the excitement had no reason to mellow. The Killers had a couple of nods to Morrissey as “A Dustland Fairytale” included a quick hint of Morrissey’s “Everyday Is Like Sunday.” Feeling the spirit of the season, The Killers performed the live debut of “Christmas In L.A.” with Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes. Rounding out their time the essentials, “When You Were Young” and “Mr. Brightside,” the Vegas natives provided the final and likely most memorable highlight of the Almost Acoustic Christmas.