Liam Lynch was onstage about two minutes total, yet it was his song that best summed up Saturday’s 11-hour KROQ Weenie Roast.
It was truly the “United States of Whatever.” As in, whatever goes.
Good Charlotte unplugged, Pink got the party started with the Transplants, and Jane’s Addiction played unannounced, proving nothing was off-limits at the trend-setting radio station’s 11th annual summer festival.
The lineup itself was a little bit of whatever, and certainly more diverse than last year’s “diet Ozzfest,” as Jack Osbourne called it.
All three stages showcased a variety of bands, although it was surprisingly the main stage that offered the most flavors, from the beginning ska-punk party from veterans Less Than Jake to the ferocious rock of Godsmack’s closing set.
Since more than half the crowd headed for the parking lot during the latter’s performance, which began with what looked like graphics to a cheap war game for computers and a corny “transmitted” message about supporting the troops, Foo Fighters really seemed to be the headliners and entertained the crowd at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre as such.
Dave Grohl was as animated as ever, playing current hit “Times Like These” and “a bunch of songs you can sing along to” with no time wasted in between. The stage went dark after the Foos’ finale, but rather than rotate to Godsmack, it lit up again to show Grohl on drums, Lynch on guitar and No Doubt’s Tony Kanal on bass. And for a song about nothing, the crowd knew every word to “United States of Whatever.”
Deftones spent their 40 minutes mixing new material with older favorites, including a slowed-down version of “My Own Summer (Shove It)” complete with subtle record scratches from DJ Frank Delgado.
Jane’s Addiction were at first met with mixed reactions, mostly since their surprise appearance cut the White Stripes short, but the band made up for it with a few golden oldies, like “Ocean Size” and “Stop!,” and no Lollapalooza plugs from Perry Farrell.
Jack and Meg White, like Sum 41 before them, were clear crowd favorites, even though breakthrough single “Fell in Love With a Girl” was ignored in favor of new material, including the hit “Seven Nation Army.”
Since Evanescence canceled because of illness, Meg was the only woman scheduled for the 20-band bill, so the ladies in the house went particularly crazy for her moment behind the microphone on “In the Cold, Cold Night.” Not that guys weren’t equally into the steamy number.
Good Charlotte guitarist Billy Martin was the best man in a wedding on Saturday, but Joel and Benji Madden felt bad turning KROQ down, so the twins flew to Irvine and played the hits from The Young and the Hopeless on acoustic guitars. Fans seemed unfazed about the band playing unplugged as they sang along to “The Anthem” and other tracks.
Although they battled sound problems, AFI were a late-afternoon favorite and responded to a strong reaction to all of their material by treating diehards to the more obscure “This Time Imperfect,” the hidden track on Sing the Sorrow.
The Transplants’ set certainly included the most twists, as if seeing Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker playing along to hip-hop beats weren’t enough. After “Diamonds and Guns” and a few other tracks, Pink joined the group for “Weigh on My Mind” and a punk version of her own “Get the Party Started.”
Later, Barker and singer Rob Aston departed, making room for guitarist Tim Armstrong to bring on his other band, Rancid, who mixed a few new tunes with gems like “Ruby Soho” and “Time Bomb.”
The Used were bumped to the main stage to replace Evanescence, and foulmouthed frontman Bert McCracken took full advantage, providing obnoxious antics and chants that were mostly absent from the festival. He did show a hint of a soft side, though, thanking “all the patient mothers” for bringing their kids to the show.
Balancing out the testosterone-fueled sets by the Used and Transplants were Blur and Staind, who relied more an emotions to stir the sold-out amphitheater.
On the side stages, KROQ morning DJs Kevin and Bean were the first to go on, telling the story of a band that handed them a demo at last year’s Weenie Roast and how they tossed it into a swimming pool to be funny. That band, Thrice, then opened the show, entertaining their hometown crowd and showing why they are tipped to be a breakout metal band this year.
The Ataris kept the early-goers moving, especially when they broke out the fake blood for the closing number, “The Boys of Summer,” “the best song we never wrote,” according to Kris Roe. As to who penned the classic, don’t ask Roe, as his handmade shirt asked, “Who the f- is Don Henley?” Whatever.