What exactly does a rock band need -- and in what quantity -- to distinguish itself in today's exuberantly eclectic pop landscape?
Along with branded beach balls and remembrances of Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, that question seemed to fill the air Saturday at Irvine's Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, where KROQ-FM (106.7) presented its annual Weenie Roast y Fiesta. The daylong concert -- headlined by Coldplay, with performances by Incubus, the Offspring and an unannounced Soundgarden, among others -- offered several successful takes on defining a pop aesthetic, but little consensus on the matter.
Still, the Weenie Roast's variety suggested something more promising: that in "a Black Eyed Peas world," as one KROQ DJ put it, rockers are thinking hard about how to specialize their music. A big crowd response, when it occurred, seemed almost secondary to the effort involved.
The sole international act on a main stage dominated by Southern Californians, Coldplay matched that geographical distinction with a show far more elaborate than any other band's. Last week, the English group played a sold-out three-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl, and to Irvine it brought a slightly pared version of that high-tech production, complete with lasers, pyrotechnics and heart-shaped confetti. And that was all during the first two songs.