Craig Nicholls, the diminutive frontman of the Vines, set the stage for Q101′s annual Twisted 9 megaconcert Sunday at the Allstate Arena when he lost his footing and fell into the photo pit early in the Vines’ half-hour set. Crawling back onstage, Nicholls threw his guitar around enough to show that while he was p.o.’d and embarrassed, he wasn’t hurt.
The same couldn’t be said for Moby, who was a no-show, thanks in part to a bizarre incident last week when he was maced and beaten by a trio of thugs after a concert. Chicago’s Local H got his slot and did an admirable job holding the audience’s attention. But if I were a fan who had come specifically to see Moby, I would’ve felt shafted–not because Local H wasn’t good (it was), but because the hard-rocking group’s music is 180 degrees from Moby’s techno sound.
Throughout the show, there was an undercurrent of anger that apparently translated to the audience: A handful of fistfights resulted in ejections from the venue. In between sets, fans impatiently sat around, waiting for bands (Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, Box Car Racer, Jimmy Eat World, Local H, Public Enemy, Vines, Sugarcult) that had little in common.
Chicago’s Disturbed headlined the concert and came onstage to a thunderous ovation that rivaled the dark thrash metal that the group spat out during its hourlong set. The Vines offered stylish punk, cranking out cathartic ditties such as “Get Free.” Public Enemy performed a flat set without the group’s mascot, Flavor Flav (who wasn’t allowed to tour, thanks to legal problems). And Jimmy Eat World–the most melodic band in the lineup–played like Green Day and fronted like the Barenaked Ladies.
As for Box Car Racer, which consists of Blink-182′s Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker, a little went a long way.
Though Blink-182 rarely puts on anything less than a raucous, entertaining live show, this offshoot band displayed a similar attitude without the strength–which makes you wonder if Blink bassist Mark Hoppus isn’t really the group’s genius. “Elevator,” a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, and a revved-up cover of Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” were nice touches, but not enough to make up for the rest of the band’s lackluster material.
There were two surprises. The “Jackass” crew, including heartthrob Johnny Knoxville, a mucho-tattooed Steve-O and a thong-clad Party Boy, made an underwhelming appearance to introduce Public Enemy and add some frat-boy gross-out humor.
But the best-of-the-evening honors belonged to Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, who injected some much needed joie de vivre into the event. At 9 p.m., five hours after Twisted 9 started, Nielsen came out to play guitar while Q101 radio personalities such as Mancow Muller and Local H’s Scott Lucas sang “Surrender.”
That moment crystallized the spirit of a holiday rock extravaganza. The point of a party is to let loose and have fun. But most of the show was so regimented and compartmentalized that fun was almost an afterthought.