Review: The Hollywood Reporter

KROQ’s Acoustic Christmas
December 12, 1994, by Marc Pollack

At KROQ’s fifth annual holiday gathering, Atlantic’s Stone Temple Pilots proved worthy of the headliner slot; Geffen’s Veruca Salt showed that the bidding war for rights to the band was just; and Radioactive’s Live confirmed that there is a place for musicianship in today’s alternative market.

With enough top talent lined up at KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas for a two-night stint, the country’s most important alternative radio station booked a solid group of up-and-comers Saturday, a night that also featured performances by Bad Religion, Hole, Meat Puppets, Jesus and Mary Chain, Luscious Jackson, Mazzy Star, Liz Phair and Sunny Day Real Estate.

After nearly five hours, which saw each band perform 20- to 30-minute sets, Stone Temple Pilots began with acoustic renditions of “Plush,” “Pretty Penny” and “Kitchenware & Candybars” before launching into a full-on electric assault, featuring rowdy renditions of such tunes as “Vasoline” and “Meat Plow.”

Once written off as a Pearl Jam-Alice in Chains rip-off, STP came into its own with last year’s second album “Purple.”

The band has written good, clever and distinctive material and polished its own individual persona to rival those of the Seattle bands with which it is most often compared.

After some mechanical/guitar difficulties, STP vocalist Weiland and company proved elite among the other performing groups.

Performing on a revolving stage in front of a huge chimney hung with stockings filled with gifts, Veruca Salt was perhaps the most surprising of the evening’s scheduled acts.

The punk-pop four-piece, who hail from Chicago, performed material culled from its debut “American Thighs” with true power and fury. The first to perform a full-on electric set, Veruca Salt cashed in with volume. Louder and faster than those who played earlier, the band rocked hard, driving those in the amphitheater wild.

The highlight was the epic “25.”

Featuring the best drummer of the evening, Live’s set revolved around material culled from its second release “Throwing Copper.” With a powerful delivery and imminent intensity, Live kicked into overdrive with its first number and carried that level through its allotted 20 minutes.

Geffen Records’ Hole, featuring the always “enjoyable” Courtney Love, was for the most part out of tune and awfully raw. But even so, performing songs from arguably the year’s best releases, “Live Through This,” Hole couldn’t fail. Led by Love, Hole slammed through tunes like “Doll Parts” with reckless abandon. But the band overstayed its welcome, and crew members began revolving the stage before Hole finished its set.

The Meat Puppets, too, were out of control. Combining country with alternative style, the Arizona natives’ short set mesmerized.

Perennial punk rockers Bad Religion, Brit pop rockers Jesus and Mary Chain and critical favorite Liz Phair all turned in convincing performances.