Live in LA: Florence, Pumpkins, Black Keys, V-Weekend and More Rock KROQ Xmas

Florence wails from the heart of the Machine. (Graeme Flegenheimer)

Just before the Christmas holiday, shutterbug Graeme Flegenheimer and I ventured into the life-size kaleidoscope that is Universal Citywalk in order to reach the Gibson Amphitheater, stuffed to the brim, as it was, with copious amounts of both rock and roll. The occasion was KROQ’s annual Almost Acoustic Christmas two-night fete, and many wise men did perform. Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Cake, Smashing Pumpkins, Jimmy Eat World. There were younger faces too. My Chemical Romance, Brandon Flowers, Vampire Weekend, Florence and the Machine.

I wrote about most of ’em here, via Spin. Teaser below.

Best Actually Acoustic Performance: Smashing Pumpkins
The title of KROQ’s annual event has become something of an intentional joke over the past two decades. There’s very little that’s even almost acoustic about the show anymore, so when a band actually goes unplugged for one of its hits, it’s a rare treat. Saturday night headliner Smashing Pumpkins delivered one of the weekend’s most exquisite moments in an acoustic take on 1995’s “Tonight, Tonight,” which found Billy Corgan’s peculiar keening as gloriously nasal and positively magnetic as ever. Elsewhere, old songs (“Bullet With Butterfly Wings”) and new ones (“Freak”) were drenched in heaping helpings of sludgy electric skronk.