KROQ lived up to its rock moniker at the 26th Annual Weenie Roast with headliners Blink 182, Panic! At The Disco, AWOLNATION and late addition Thirty Seconds To Mars. Held last Saturday, May 10, at StubHub Center, the event which in previous years has skewed more indie and pop with Lorde headlining a bill which also boasted Lana Del Rey and Paramore last year, returned, closer to its heavier roots this installment.
Mike Shinoda was one of the most anticipated early sets at the smaller Side Stage. The Linkin Park co-founder’s first solo appearance since the 2017 suicide of frontman Chester Bennington, Shinoda appeared relaxed at his KROQ press appearance backstage, smiling for photographers an excited to perform his new songs for fans. His set delivered from behind a bank of synths in the middle of the crowd was as cathartic for the audience as it was for him.
Philly-bred Mt Joy kicked off the proceedings with their jangly folk-rock. Essex band Nothing But Thieves gave the early arrivals a rousing performance with frontman Conor Mason in dungarees, thanking KROQ for playing their hot single “Sorry,” off their sophomore album Broken Machine. While Alice Merton who had a breakthrough hit with “No Roots,” a song the now 23-year-old, wrote when she was 16 about her countless moves, gave us a hint at what other pop hits the classical-trained songwriter with the big voice might have up her sleeve.
Spotting a new haircut and with an album of new songs James Bay got the crowd swooning on his ballad “Let It Go,” “Hold Back The River” and new tracks from the more rock-sounding Electric Light. He even managed to coax the sun out from behind the afternoon’s cloudy skies.
Manchester Orchestra was the first band playing the main stage followed by rising star Bishop Briggs. In a great patchwork one-piece, Briggs experienced some technical difficulties to begin with but like a trooper and in great spirits, she went on to deliver fan favorites “Cry Me A River” and “.”
AWOLNATION followed with an ear-splitting set that fans lapped up as it was impossible to take your eyes off charismatic frontman Aaron Bruno, in a fetching pineapple shirt. They did provide some sweet relief with the tender “Handyman” from their latest Here Comes The Runt – with Bruno urging the crowd to “hug the person next to you,” - before ending their set with monster hit “Sail.”
The War On Drugs slowed the pace right down, opening with the unforgettable “Holding On.” Still garnering new fans after winning a Grammy earlier this year for Best Rock Album with A Deeper Understanding, beating out the bands like Queens Of The Stone Age and Metallica, the stoner rockers also performed “An Ocean Between The Waves” and “Nothing To Find.”
The rest of the evening which included reggae rockers Dirty Heads, plus KROQ firm favorites Rise Against and headliners Blink 182 - probably belonged to late addition to the event, Thirty Second To Mars and Panic! At The Disco.
A consummate performer, Jared Leto brought a dance-off to Weenie Roast with “Rescue Me” as he invited one by one audience members up to the stage to “shake those hips” for the electronic number from their latest album America. To celebrate the album’s release last month, Leto ‘hitchhiked’ across the country. The band had also invited fans to submit footage of their 4th of July celebrations last year, as the album has been conceived as a soundtrack to an upcoming documentary of the same name the actor has produced.
Fresh off his Broadway debut on Kinky Boots, Panic! At The Disco’s set was a highlight with it’s only one remaining original member – and that’s all you need in his case – Brendon Urie delivered a high-energy set with his signature backflip, unmistakable hits like “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies,” and latest single “Say Amen (Saturday Night),” and of course a searing cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The last time Urie performed the cover on a KROQ stage was during 2015’s Almost Acoustic Christmas, it was jaw-droppingly good then and hasn’t lost any of its appeal yet. It’s worth noting that the band started out as a Blink 182 covers act and has gradually morphed into one of pop’s most dynamic success stories ready to embark on its arena-sized Pray For The Wicked Tour. And they like countless other bands on KROQ's radio rotation roster have been fortunate to have the station support and nurture them from their nascence.