KROQ-FM (106.7) isn't known for curveballs in its well-cemented playlist of angsty '90s survivors and modern takes on SoCal punk. Even at Weenie Roast, its annual summer-heralding showcase of the station's mainstays and scrappier newcomers, a "surprise" unbilled performer is its own tradition.
So when the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre's stage rotated on Saturday night to reveal an unadvertised Dave Grohl and his moppety band of Foo Fighters, no one seemed entirely shocked. But the Foos' sincere and swaggering set was kind of revelatory in its own way: Being a genuine rock star among today's pop synthetics is a tough slog.
After a day of eccentric newcomers and some dragging main-stage fare, when Grohl cheekily admitted midset that "They're all hits. We've got too many hits," the truth of that wisecrack was its own pleasant surprise.
To its credit, KROQ does an admirable job of championing L.A. locals and ushering them from indie bustle to the arena circuit. Acts such as the suspiciously underrated O.C. anthem-slingers Young the Giant and the quirked-up synth pop of Foster the People definitely benefit from a showcase like this.
Silver Lake's Airborne Toxic Event is a living example of the career arc KROQ can offer an artist -- which is what Airborne's bleary, sometimes furious racket deserved. Singles such as "Changing" and "Sometime Around Midnight" scuff up the station's formulas just enough to intrigue and seemed even more adventurous juxtaposed against the local quartet Neon Trees. The latter's proficient neo-Sunset-Strip hommage seemed calibrated to annoy any wandering Echo Parkers who thought they time-warped into a Coachella side stage.