From ‘Making America Rage Again’ and ‘Muse Madness,’ to the heroics of The Killers, KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas was definitely the event you wanted to be a part of this past weekend. With eighteen bands performing (originally nineteen but Morrissey cancelled) over the course of two days, we were once again left with the puzzling question, is rock really dead? The answer is clearly NOPE, at least when it’s this wild and crazy. The festival-like concert features a revolving stage, so there’s little down time between artist performances, which keeps the show at a brisk pace. Day one saw UK rockers Muse take the headlining slot with KROQ favorites, The Killers, being bumped to the headliner position on day two after the “shocking” cancellation of Morrissey. However, no one seemed to be shaken up by that since each night had such a killer lineup to begin with. Check out our photos and the bands we thought had the best sets below:

Royal Blood – By Debi Del Grande
Royal Blood – By Debi Del Grande
Royal Blood – By Debi Del Grande
Royal Blood – By Debi Del Grande

The first night started off strong with duo, Royal Blood, opening the show in rocking fashion. It was a shame they only received a twenty-minute time slot. They did everything they could in that time with a ferocious set featuring “Out of the Black,” “I Only Lie When I Love You,” and “Lights Out.” After getting a chance to open up for Queens of the Stone Age (who also played later in the night) this year, Royal Blood are clearly cementing their status as a must-see rock band with a melodic intensity that matches those with many more years under their belt.

Queens of the Stone Age – By Debi Del Grande

After such an aggressive set from Queens of the Stone Age with their lead singer, Josh Homme, going off the rails, it was time for Jared Leto to ease the tension with his band, 30 Seconds to Mars. Taking the stage in a flowing vest, he was all about showing his love for the crowd. After an extended, fervent performance of their big hit, “Kings and Queens,” Leto segued into an intimate acoustic version of “The Kill.” Then came the explosive, lively performances of “This Is War” and “Walk on Water." Leto closed out his band's set with "Closer to the Edge," by pulling about two dozen fans on the stage to close out their set.

30 Seconds to Mars – By Debi Del Grande

On night two, things started off with the charming Vance Joy, which was quite the departure of the previous night's opener, Royal Blood. With day one being more hard rock centric, day two was easily geared toward the alternative rock crowd. After X-Ambassadors presented their bombastic-rock set and the “Take Me Out” Scottish alt-rockers, Franz Ferdinand, did their European thing, Walk The Moon were ready to come out on stage.

Vance Joy – By Debi Del Grande
Walk the Moon – By Debi Del Grande
Walk the Moon – By Debi Del Grande
Walk the Moon – By Debi Del Grande

Walk The Moon's seven-song set featured four new songs, “One Foot,” “Kamikaze,” “Surrender,” and “Headphones,” from What If Nothing, which arrived last month. Before the stage revolved to reveal the group, they were introduced as a band with a big fan following due to their energetic live sets. Let’s just say, the Ohio pop-rock band effortlessly lived up to those words. Lead singer Nicholas Petricca was dancing on stage and appeared to be having the time of his life both on stage and later on, when spotted in the crowd during sets for both Weezer and The Killers.

Foster The People – By Debi Del Grande
Foster the People – By Debi Del Grande

Foster The People's nine-song-set included a wild cover of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” before getting into some of their collection of hits like “Coming of Age,” “Pay The Man,” and of course, crowd-favorite, “Pumped Up Kicks.” Nonetheless, their set was pop-punk perfection. SoCal legends, Weezer, were the act ahead of The Killers, and gave the crowd exactly what they wanted. At this rate, all they need to play are the singles of yesteryear such as, “Say It Ain’t So,” “Undone – The Sweater Song,” and of course, fan-favorite, “Buddy Holly.” All of their classics were received with huge participation from the crowd, but the energy mellowed out with newer songs like “Happy Hour” and “Feels Like Summer,” off their latest record, Pacific Daydream. However, that energy got a much needed boost with the headliners about to set foot on stage.

The night wrapped up with none other than The Killers. Frontman Brandon Flowers tackled the Josh Homme controversy by inviting a photographer on stage. When the photographer seemed apprehensive, Flowers jested, “It’s okay, I’m not gonna kick you in the face.” Flowers then hugged the photographer, telling him all photographers are welcome at Killers shows and that their shows are a safe place for photographers. With Morrissey absent, The Killers made you forget about him by covering The Smiths’ “This Charming Man,” and a snippet of Morrissey's original tune, "Everyday Is like Sunday," before heading into “A Dustland Fairytale.” All the usual suspects were here, such as “Read My Mind, “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “When You Were Young,” and “Mr. Brightside.” Being in the month of December, how could The Killers not play a Christmas song? After all, they have an entire album dedicated of holiday tunes. While making their live debut for “Christmas in L.A.,” Flowers brought up friends, Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith from the band Dawes. It was a nice change of pace to a very jovial set from the Las Vegas act. The four songs I mentioned above closed out the night, and you couldn’t really expect anything more than that. Like Weezer, The Killers can just play a show dedicated to the hits. Flowers ended the evening with "Mr. Brightside," but before launching into the song, the frontman told his fans, "Life can be tough, but sometimes it goes the other way too."

Below are some of the setlists from KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas:

Royal Blood setlist by Setlist.fm.
Thirty Seconds to Mars' setlist by Setlist.fm.
The Killers' setlist by Setlist.fm.

Check out additional setlists from both two days here.

Run the Jewels – By Debi Del Grande
Run the Jewels – By Debi Del Grande
The Lumineers – By Debi Del Grande
The Lumineers – By Debi Del Grande
Franz Ferdinand – By Debi Del Grande
Franz Ferdinand – By Debi Del Grande
Phoenix – By Debi Del Grande
Weezer – By Debi Del Grande
Weezer – By Debi Del Grande
Judah and the Lion – By Debi Del Grande
Judah and the Lion – By Debi Del Grande
Judah and the Lion – By Debi Del Grande
Muse – By Debi Del Grande
Muse – By Debi Del Grande
Muse – By Debi Del Grande
Prophets of Rage – By Debi Del Grande
Rise Against – By Debi Del Grande

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Last updated: 25 Feb 2018, 02:42 Etc/UTC

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