Avicii performs at the 2014 KROQ Weenie Roast
Photo: Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images
Set List Bonus: Avicii At KROQ Weenie Roast
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By Steve Baltin
In 1993 L.A.-based radio station KROQ-FM debuted its annual Weenie Roast with a lineup that included Stone Temple Pilots, X, The The, the Lemonheads, Gin Blossoms, and Suede. In the 21 ensuing years the festival has hosted everyone from Kiss, Black Sabbath and Metallica to the Cure, Green Day, Jane's Addiction, Blur, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, while Warren G, Shaquille O'Neal and Pink have made surprise appearances.
In short, the day-long event has continually been a bellwether of the current state of alternative music. And alternative music in 2014 surely intersects with dance/electronic music. This year's bill was headlined by GRAMMY nominee Avicii. While he is the first EDM artist to headline the roast, he is not the first EDM act to play, as the Prodigy, the Crystal Method and Moby — part of the first wave of electronic acts to break through to commercial radio, a full decade before the current EDM explosion — all appeared in the past.
With KROQ staples such as the Black Keys (2013), Coldplay (2012) and Linkin Park (2011) having topped the bill the last few years, the switch to an EDM headliner met with some resistance on social media, with some questioning, "Where is the rock in KROQ?"
But there's no disputing the influence of Avicii. His "Wake Me Up," recorded with Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger, was not only an alt-rock radio smash in 2013, but a dominant force worldwide. And he proved equally dominant headlining the all-day Weenie Roast, which this year also featured acts such as Beck, Capital Cities, Cherub, and Foster The People, among others.
Opening with the hit, "Hey Brother," the Swedish DJ smartly bookended his set with more commercial selections, ending with the one-two punch of "Wake Me Up" and his recent collaboration with Coldplay, "A Sky Full Of Stars," which he co-produced.
In between, Avicii pushed the envelope, peppering in some techno-heavy beats, including a wicked remix of the Who's "Baba O'Riley." Despite the possibility this wouldn't be a DJ-savvy audience, he delivered a very traditional DJ set, including some monster rises and drops in the individual tracks that got the crowd going and a very production-heavy visual set, complete with lasers, lights and a giant video screen that broadcast videos in the background.
As it turned out, the naysayers were more vocal on social media than at the show, with the more than 15,000 in attendance dancing throughout the hour-long set, glow sticks proudly lighting up the night sky.
If the big question of the day was how would the crowd — after sitting through a day of more alternative artists, even those with dance beats such as Capital Cities and Fitz And The Tantrums — respond to an EDM artist closing out the show, the answer turned out to be quite nicely, thank you.
(Steve Baltin has written about music for Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, MOJO, Chicago Tribune, AOL, LA Weekly, Philadelphia Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, and dozens more publications.)