“This is diet Ozzfest,” Jack Osbourne quipped backstage at the sold-out KROQ Weenie Roast.
Southern California’s authoritative modern rock radio station hosted its 10th annual summer concert extravaganza on Saturday and, yes, it did offer a glimpse of the summer’s most anticipated tours, especially Ozzfest.
Ozzy himself could not make the festivities, as his daughter Kelly was performing across the valley at KIIS’ Wango Tango radio show alongside the likes of Celine Dion and past Weenie Roast favorites No Doubt. Why wasn’t Jack there? “We don’t get along,” he clarified.
Representing the heavy metal tour that reality TV’s favorite parents built, Rob Zombie, P.O.D. and the headliner on the 16-band bill, System of a Down, would have made Ozzy proud, drinking (and spitting) “blood” from a guitar, forming a makeshift mosh pit onstage and leading a massive cry of “when angels deserve to die.”
Ozzfest’s co-headliners – along with Anger Management Tour delegate Papa Roach – perfectly showcased the tuned-down guitar riffs and brutal vocal assaults KROQ has popularized in recent years by championing such bands as Limp Bizkit and Korn, both of whom were notably absent from the bill.
But times they are a changin’, and Jack’s “diet” bands are making noise – lots of it. Area founder Moby and Area:One veterans Incubus played emotionally charged sets, crafting ambient beats and singing near-lullabies as the sun set behind the mountains that frame the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. Incubus provided quite an evening view as their shadows cast on video screens showing close-ups of singer Brandon Boyd, eyes closed, hands clenched, feeling the music.
And all eyes were on the Strokes and the Vines, who appear to be leading a garage rock movement that is being compared to the grunge rage of a decade ago. Although nonchalant in their demeanor (the Strokes shrugged their shoulders at getting cut short), both bands offered solid sets that let their vintage music do the talking.
Punk was out in full force, too, with Unwritten Law and Warped Tour headliners Bad Religion and New Found Glory providing a fix of the genre that never goes away in this neck of the woods. The latter, whose new Sticks & Stones was released last Tuesday, opened the main stage and took advantage of seats still filling by leaping from the stage and playing down the aisles.
Perhaps most fitting at this year’s Weenie Roast were the likes of Jimmy Eat World and Puddle of Mudd. Both proved they can rock with the best of them, but the hooks in their singles (which are mostly what get played at these types of shows) would have gone over huge at Wango Tango.
And then there was Beastie Boys DJ Mix Master Mike, who seemed to have the clearest sense of the current music climate. In his hour-long set, the famed turntablist mixed Rage Against the Machine next to Run-D.M.C., tossing on classic rock and hip-hop albums in equal measure.
Of course, Weenie Roast is almost as known for the artists who aren’t on the bill as for those who are. This year’s surprise band was the Violent Femmes, who looked naked onstage with their tiny amplifiers and drums, but were met with an enthusiastic roar anyway. Everyone at the venue sang along to “Blister in the Sun,” no matter if they had to ask their buddies, “Who is this band?” afterward.
Aside from the handful of kids pulled onstage during “Youth of a Nation,” P.O.D. invited HR from legendary hardcore band Bad Brains to perform live with them for the first time. Together they created a Caribbean style of rap-rock on “Without Jah, Nothing,” their collaboration on P.O.D.’s Satellite.
In his opening set on the side stage, surfer-turned-rocker Jack Johnson brought up Ben Harper to play slide guitar on their collaboration, the summer anthem “Flake” from Johnson’s Brushfire Fairytales.
Hoobastank, who also played the side stage, didn’t bring out any surprises, though they had friends from Papa Roach and Something Corporate nearby, watching from the sides as the group sent its hometown crowd into a frenzy.
Jack Osbourne, too, made his rounds on the side of the stage and behind, cheering on his favorites (System of a Down) and talking music with everyone else, even mentioning at one point his fondness for Eminem. KROQ, which proved its growing diversity with the festival, found the perfect mascot.