KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Evolution: Highlights from the Lineup and Beyond


Photo and Story by: Alex Kluft


KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas (AAC) began in 1990 and is annually held at the KIA Forum since 2014. KROQ has been Los Angeles’s premiere Alt-Rock station for over 30 years and at AAC, KROQ has hosted Blink-182, No Doubt, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, Jane’s Addiction, Coldplay Linkin Park, Korn, Rage Against the Machine, Weezer and even Tony Bennett and David Bowie among the 100+ acts to perform over the years many which were up & comers the first time they played. AAC was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For 2023 AAC hosted a mix of first-timers as well as a few veterans. The lineup consisted of The Beaches, Bakar, Lovejoy, Cannons, and Bleachers who all gave their AAC debut followed by Portugal the Man whose first AAC was in 2013. 311 took over for Red Hot Chili Peppers who were going to play their first AAC but had to cancel four days before due to an undisclosed injury to a band member.

Female group The Beaches (Eliza Enman-McDaniel) played first at 6 P.M. To fit so many groups in one night, each set averaged 30 minutes with the Offspring playing a bit longer as the headliner. 

Bleachers led by all-star producer Jack Antonoff features a group of multi-instrumentalists like himself. On drums was Sean Hutchinson throughout the set and Mike Riddleberger on certain songs. Bleachers played a headline set at the KIA Forum last year. Bleachers always play a high-energy set with the members switching between instruments.  Advertisement

Portugal the Man played at 8:30. Their new drummer is Vincent LiRocchi who joined just this year replacing their original drummer Jason Sechrist who has had three tenures with the group. PTM released their latest album Chris Black Changed My Life6 months ago and the drums were recorded by Homer Steinweiss (Dap-Kings) as well as percussion by former Journey drummer Steve Smith and actor Ben Stiller. PTM played a seven-song set starting with “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” and closed the set with “Live In the and Moment,” and “Feel It Still.”

Next was Garbage, the first of three groups on the lineup this year to have all formed before 2000. For Garbage, this was their 5th time playing. Butch Vig played his Roland VAD kit which he used on tour this past summer and has been playing since 2016. Garbage most recently played the Forum last year opening for Tears for Fears. Garbage opened with “Vow” followed by “Stupid Girl” and ironically during the third song “Wolves” singer Shirley Manson had to stop the show over a fight among a few girls in the front. Manson said, “This is f***ing bulls***. Do we not have enough f***ing s*** going on in the world without some f***ing a**hole in a f***ing Christmas party? F*** this,” she stated. “We’ve got 30 minutes on this stage and you’re f***ing eating into our time, so f***ing get it sorted. I don’t have the f***ing patience for this s***.” Due to the incident, they had to cut a song from their already short set. On the following song “#1 Crush”, Manson went into the audience while singing. Their set closed with “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Push It.” Garbage is still the original group and bassist Daniel Shulman (1995-2005) rejoined last year after 17 years when Eric Avery returned to Jane’s Addiction. 


Before 311 took the stage a video played of Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis apologizing for their cancellation in song and it turned out that guitarist John Frusciante broke a finger. For RHCP this would’ve been their second performance there this year as they played in January there for iHeart’s Alter Ego and had not played there since the Stadium Arcadium tour before 2023. 311 has been around the second longest on the lineup, forming in 1988. Since their formation the group has been Nick Hexum (Lead vocals/Guitar), P-Nut (Bass), and Chad Sexton (Drums), Tim Mahoney became the lead guitarist in 1991 replacing Jim Watson who had been a member just for a year, and rapper/turntables Doug Martinez joined in 1992. 311 opened with “Beautiful Disaster” followed by “All Mixed Up,” “Amber” was third to last and the closer was “Down.” This was their eighth AAC. 311 played a short fall tour which ended Oct 8th as well as several festivals throughout the year, a special show at Red Rocks, and their cruise.  Advertisement

For The Offspring, this was their fourth AAC. It was fitting that the Offspring would be the closer being that they formed in Garden Grove (Orange County) and their fast-paced songs. In the group’s 37-year history, they have always been lead vocalist/ guitarist Dexter Holland and guitarist Noodles and had four drummers before as well as Josh Freese who first recorded with the band in 2003 and played live with them on and off in 2005 and became their touring drummer again in 2021 until leaving to join the Foo Fighters. 29-year-old Brandon Pertzborn (at the time 28) joined the group this year following tours with Corey Taylor, Marilyn Manson, Doyle, and Suicidal Tendencies. The Offspring had a major summer tour this year with Sum 41 and Simple Plan. The Offspring played a total of 10 songs, all Pop-Punk classics starting with “Come Out and Play” and including “Why Don’t You Get a Job?,” “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy), and “The Kids Aren’t Alright.” The final two songs were “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” and “Self Esteem.” The group has sounded its best in several years. The next day Offspring announced a special one-off show at the Honda Center in honor of the 30th anniversary of Smash The Offspring will also play two of the biggest Rock/Metal festivals in the world Download and Hellfest. 

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will play a makeup show at the Forum in March and tickets will be honored for the new date.