ALTer EGO ’23

LIVE at the Kia Forum
January 20, 2023 Review by Kevin Gomez
Saturday received some of the heaviest rainfall of the year and the hardest Southern California had seen all week. But thousands braved the weather to see some of the biggest bands in music today. Year after year, iHeartRadio’s ALTer Ego proves to be one of the biggest music festivals all year, and 2023’s lineup was no different.

Just after seven p.m., the lights turned low and the Chicago Bulls’ walkout song began playing, which could only mean one thing: Illinois’ own Fall Out Boy took the stage and immediately launched into “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” For those unfamiliar with ALTer Ego’s setup, let me explain – they usually begin with a huge band to open the show, whereas most festivals begin with a new, up and coming artist. The band then kicked into the “Munsters” theme-sampled “Uma Thurman” and “This Ain’t a Scene.”
There was a reoccurring theme in the band’s set design from the huge backdrop behind them, to drummer Andy Hurley’s bass drum, and even lead singer Patrick Stump’s baseball jersey: a yin and yang happy face/sad face logo which is apparently the cover for their upcoming album, “Love From the Other Side.” Bassist Pete Wentz announced that the first single would be releasing later this week.

Photo by Anna Lee
The band played “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” and appropriately enough, giant flames started erupting behind the band making for quite a cool spectacle. For their next song, Stump moved to the piano to begin playing “The Last of the Real Ones” as Wentz said, “This is a song about the most powerful thing in the world: love.” It was a set packed with one hit single after another, concluding with “Dance, Dance,” “Thnks fr th Mmrs” and “Centuries.”
Next up was singer-songwriter Rosa Linn, originally hailing from Armenia. At just 22, she had one of the most powerful voices of the night. Linn wore a long black jacket with the words “Stop the Blockade” in large white letters on the back, referring to the blockade of Armenia’s nearby Republic of Artsakh. While singing “WDIA (Would Do It Again),” she ended by going into the chorus of the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” Linn closed her set with her debut breakout single “Snap,” a song that was featured on Eurovision, where she was selected to represent her country.

Photo Provided by iHeart Media
The band Phoenix just seems to be more artistic and cultured than anyone else. Maybe it’s because they hail from Versailles, France. Take for instance, their seventh album released last year, “Alpha Zulu.” The album was recorded in Musée des Arts décoratifs, a museum within the world-famous Louvre in Paris, so naturally the band came out to a classical piece from an opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau.

They kicked off their set with the hit single “Lisztomania.” Lit only by their backdrop, there was no lighting onstage initially as you saw six shadowy figures, until the chorus kicked in and the lights came on fully, making for a very cool visual performance. The band used their set to showcase their latest album including the title track, “After Midnight,” and “Tonight.”
They played a medley of two songs from their debut album, “United” first with “If I Ever Feel Better,” and then with “Funky Squaredance.” Somewhere in between someone wearing a black cloak and a faceless white mask appeared onstage, straight out of a Broadway play. Very performance art. In between songs, lead singer Thomas Mars acknowledged their short set by saying, “I’d like to talk but we have 30 minutes so song after song and song.”

Photo by Ashley Osborne
After ending with their biggest hit, “1901,” Mars walked through the crowd, using security to hoist himself up to the balcony of the upper deck, before leaving back down. It was such a great way to end their set.
Next up was Beach Weather, the brainchild of guitarist and lead singer Nick Santino. The former A Rocket to the Moon front-man, Santino started Beach Weather in 2015; two years after his former band broke up. They opened their set with the moody “Swoon.”

Photo by Anna Lee
The five-piece act were definitely in the running for sharpest-dressed band of the night, all clad in black suits. Santino announced that the fourth song of their set was a new song entitled, “Trouble With This Bed.” The single will be featured on their upcoming album, “Pineapple Sunshine,” due out March 3rd. They closed their set with “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” the single that flooded airwaves last year.

Photo by Ashley Osborn
Muse is often described as being one of the best live acts in music. They are so wildly popular and revered, none other than Academy Award winning actor, and 30 Seconds to Mars lead singer, Jared Leto had to come out to introduce this larger-than-life band.

Photo by Ashley Osborn
A prerecording chant of “The will of the people” began playing as the trio took the stage, signaling the title track of their 2022 album, a big rock number with ripping guitar and bass.

The band then began playing “Interlude” a 30-second instrumental track, which if you know the album, “Absolution,” you know exactly what’s next. For those that didn’t, bassist Christopher Wolstenholme began playing the unforgettable opening notes to “Hysteria” and the crowd lost its collective minds.
Wolstenholme and lead singer-guitarist Matthew Bellamy are so innovative about how they play, and what the possibilities of their instruments can do, it almost seems like they are taking you into another dimension. Adding synthesizers and effects, coupled with constant lighting and visuals, it really is an entire experience watching Muse play.

Photo by Anna Lee
For “Won’t Stand Down,” the bass and reverb were turned up so high, you could actually feel every pluck of the strings in your chest. They did a sultry take on “Madness” as Wolstenholme played a dual synthesizer/bass, and Bellamy unleashed a shredding guitar solo while flames arose next to drummer Dominic Howard.

For “Behold, The Glove” Bellamy came out in an animated LED-light jacket with flashing lights and wearing a giant metal glove, looking like an English Tony Stark. The band played the larger than life “Supermassive Black Hole” and “Uprising,” and just when you thought they couldn’t possibly give you anything more, they closed their set with “Starlight” as you heard thousands of people singing the chorus along in unison.

Photo by Anna Lee
We’re barely two weeks into 2023 and Chvrches have already been traveling across the world. The Scottish band kicked of the new year in Australia and had literally just come the night before from doing a pair of shows in Japan.
If the band was jetlagged, they definitely did not show any signs. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry sounded fantastic and looked lovely in a sequined lime green dress. They opened with “He Said She Said,” as Mayberry danced, jumped, and spun in circles from left to right.

Photo by Anna Lee
Although a short set for the night, Chvrches was able to play from all of their albums. They played “Asking for a Friend,” the opening track off of their 2021 release, “Screen Violence.” Personal highlight was hearing them play their debut single, “The Mother We Share,” before ending with “Clearest Blue.”
Jack White came out guns-blazing, wasting no time and ready to set the world on fire. He kicked things off with the guitar-roaring lead track, “Taking Me Back,” off last year’s “Fear of the Dawn.” He is such a genius at blues rock and watching him jam along with his backing band is a thing of beauty. When you have a naturally gifted talent like White on guitar, you really need someone on drums who is going to keep up with him, challenge him even. White has found his match in the equally exceptional, two-time Grammy winner, Daru Jones. Watching White and Jones duel, it was like watching two gunslingers going toe to toe, neither one backing down, and the end result was loud and powerful, such as on “Hi-De-Ho.”

Photo by Ashley Osborn
White slowed things down, as his keyboard player switched to piano for “A Tip From Me to You.” But things wouldn’t stay for calm as White switched moods and whipped out the White Stripes’ classic, “Icky Thump.” But, this was not merely the album version; instead White and Jones brought it to life with an extended jam intro, and improvised breakdowns that saw White using various effects and techniques to transform the song entirely. White continued with the hits and played The Raconteurs’ “Steady as She Goes.” I think the loudest this sold-out crowd got all night was singing along to White’s band as they closed with “Seven Nation Army,” sounding like something out of a baseball stadium.

ALTer EGO ’23

Photo by Anna Lee
It’s hard to imagine a band that embodies California more than the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to the point where they are virtually synonymous with one another. And it goes deeper than that, specifically Los Angeles – with the “LA” Dodger logo on Chad Smith’s drum head, or Flea’s bass adorned with the Lakers emblem.

Usually after a long music festival, you will notice people start fan out, especially since many came for earlier bands and do not like the headliner – heck, if nothing else than just to beat the traffic. And yet, Saturday night I didn’t see a single empty seat as the Chili Peppers walked onstage; the arena looked about as packed as it did any time that evening. A true testament to the long and storied career of one of the biggest bands in the world.
Flea, Smith, and guitarist John Frusciante began their set, as they usually do, with a great five-minute jam session. Flea and Frusciante kicked off “Fake as Fuck” from last year’s “Return of the Dream Canteen” as lead singer Anthony Kiedis could be heard singing backstage before exploding onto the stage as the chorus started.

Photo by Anna Lee
Their set was a mixture of new songs and classic hits as they played “Black Summer” followed by “Snow (Hey Oh).” They of course played “Californication,” the perfect song from this band in this town. It was great to see Frusciante back with the Peppers and the rest of the band took a break as he did a gorgeous rendition of “Danny’s Song,” singing and playing guitar. Flea announced they would be playing “Tippa My Tongue” from their latest album for the first time live. After, the band began jamming again as Kiedis freestyled before Flea and Frusciante walked towards each other, met in the middle began playing the intro to “By the Way.”
If iHeartRadio wanted to prove that they are still the kings of radio broadcasting and multimedia, they definitely made a statement tonight. Eight bands, over five hours of non-stop music from some of the biggest and best acts around today. They proved that ALTer Ego is a force that is here to stay for a long time.


Provided Courtesy of iHeart Media

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