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Photos by Tamea Agle

KROQ’s 25th Annual Almost Acoustic Christmas took over the Forum this past weekend, providing arguably one of their best lineups in recent memory. Dancing took over the general area while chants echoed throughout the venue, setting tone to the musical variety each band delivered.

With nine acts performing Saturday night, British rockers Royal Blood opened the festival with their heavy garage rock roots that have quickly caught onto mainstream airwaves with positive appraise. The two-piece act received plenty of momentum from the audience as the stage rotated for New Politics. The pop-style songs fused with alternative rock gave people a reason to curse while singing “Everywhere I Go.”

Making their second festival appearance, Walk The Moon injected everyone with electro-pop riffs that caused shoe scuffles as people channeled their inner timid dancer. Attempting to remain motionless during their performance led to head bobbing and chorus participations. Singer Nicholas Petricca appeared humble before the crowd, acknowledging the stellar lineup and citing Incubus as an influence.

The musical motion shifted again with the arrival of Rise Against. Focusing predominately on their radio hits, Tim McIlrath took the stage by launching himself into the front row barricade. Aggression began to swoop the air while fists and screams decorated the walls. The fast-paced guitars and throbbing drums were matched to cause chaos across the floors.

“Thank you for giving a sh*t about rock, about bands, about music!” shouted McIlrath before closing with “Savior.”

Shifting back 20 years, Bush took over the stage, reminding everyone present how timeless the album Sixteen Stone has become. Gavin Rossdale’s ability to vocally seduce an audience has never been a mystery. Ladies cheered at their top of their lungs as he strolled along the catwalk ramp. Technical issues plagued the band’s sound system midway through the set list, yet Bush continued to perform unaffected while the crowd filled in with vocals. “Comedown” provided a chorus a cappella from the crowd before signing off.

Fall Out Boy gave the audience a moment to recuperate from the aggressive jams in exchange for sing-along participations and catchy dance melodies. Songs like ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race” and their well-received cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” kept the audience asking for more.

Rocking a mustache that would gain Freddie Mercury’s approval, Brandon Boyd took the stage along with Incubus. The sound wave tempos sedated the audience in a soothing manner. Their head-bobbing smooth rhythms kept everyone trapped in musical deer headlights. Fans received an early Christmas gift, as Body debuted a new song,”Trust Fall,” from their unreleased album. “Drive” ended their performance, stating 2015 will include tour dates and new music.

Making their sixth appearance, Linkin Park received a massive ovation from the home crowd. Mr. Hahn’s DJ solo hyped the crowd as they began “Burn It Down” with a massive clap participation. Mike Shinoda thanked KROQ for being the first radio station to play their music, citing them as their first step towards success. Chester Bennington invited guitarist Daron Malakian to join the stage for “Rebellion,” a song he co-wrote off their latest album. Closing the night, Bennington called McIlrath from backstage and signed off with “Bleed It Out.”

Finally, the moment of anticipation came to a halt. With a near decade absence since their last KROQ appearance, System of a Down appeared to a massive ovation. “Chop Suey!” reminded everyone what mosh pits were, expanding two circles across the floor. Complete and total rampage didn’t scratch the surface of the adrenaline and excitement the band projected. Guitarist Malakian said it best, “There is nothing acoustic about this.”

Although typically politically vocal, Serj Tankian addressed the New York law enforcement wounds in a subtle way while screaming, “We refuse to be pushed around or anyone else for that fucking matter!”

With 16 songs performed, Tankian invited a young boy named Christopher from Make-A-Wish Foundation to play “Sugar” as the closing song.

Night One of Acoustic Christmas exceeded expectations while making it an instant classic. The musical variety and onstage respect amongst artists made the night remarkable. The Forum can easily become the holiday music festival’s new home for years to come.