By David Harrison
LOS ANGELES – Any music fan who has visited Los Angeles over the holidays must be familiar with the ambiguously-titled “Almost Acoustic Christmas,” the annual two-night concert hosted by alternative rock station KROQ. Now in its 22nd installment, Almost Acoustic Christmas has become synonymous with the biggest bands gathering at the Gibson Amphitheater to celebrate the holidays in a very un-acoustic manner. Night one’s lineup this year, however, was particularly special – it featured seven (out of eight) artists who have previously played the festival, namely headliners Blink 182, 311, Sublime with Rome, Social Distortion, Bush, New Found Glory and Chevelle.
Night one started off with a little bit of nostalgia, as New Found Glory took a moment to reminisce about the last time they performed with Blink on the 2001 “Take of Your Pants and Jacket Tour.” By music industry standards, ten years is ancient history. In that time, CDs have gone the way of the dinosaurs, YouTube has launched careers and the traditional sense of radio has completely evolved (my parents have been teaching me how to use podcasts… no, I’m not embarrassed). But the cheers from the sold-out crowd at the Gibson Amphitheater on Saturday night proved that some things in rock music haven’t changed since the 1990s. Here is a (partial) list:
1. Blink-182 rocked Almost Acoustic Christmas
2. Sublime with Rome rocked Almost Acoustic Christmas
3. Social Distortion rocked Almost Acoustic Christmas
You get the idea. In fact, take Social Distortion, for example. They headlined the first Almost Acoustic Christmas ever in 1990. Saturday night, frontman Mike Ness announced, “We’re gonna play a song off the  album White Light, White Heat, White Trash. A squeaky voice behind me shouted “I f**king love that album!” and I turned to see a kid in a Social D shirt who was definitely not even born when the album was released, let alone should be using that kind of potty language.
But, like I said before, a lot has changed in the music business and each of the bands performing on Saturday night proved exactly why their fans have stayed loyal over the course of decades. Mark, Tom and Travis stormed the stage to deafening cheers, made a few vulgar jokes (that part hasn’t changed) and then performed their newly released single, “Heart’s all Gone,” back-to-back with the 1997 hit “Dammit,” both of which are in consistent rotation at radio stations across the country. The security guard next to me sang along to every word. Among all the veteran acts of Almost Acoustic Christmas night number one, there are countless new songs and albums for your ears’ consumption, and if their enduring popularity has proven anything, we have a lot more to look forward to.
Almost Acoustic Christmas proceeds benefit the Para los Ninos charity, more info can be found at www.paralosninos.org