The 2023 iHeartRadio ALTer EGO event rocked the Kia Forum on Saturday night, headlined by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees and LA natives Red Hot Chili Peppers. Joining the stellar lineup were Jack White, Muse, Fall Out Boy, Phoenix, CHVRCHES, Beach Weather and Rosa Linn. iHeart ALT 98.7’s Woody of “The Woody Show” hosted the extravaganza with four-and-a-half hours of nearly non-stop music, which could also be streamed live on Veeps. While there were not too many special guests or surprises (other than the downpour happening outside), Thirty Seconds to Mars singer Jared Leto was on hand to introduce Muse, Phoenix’s lead singer Thomas Mars climbed into the stands at the end of the French band’s set and Chili Peppers bassist Flea was his usual self, offering lots of personality and dance moves.
Chicago-area pop-punk band Fall Out Boy opened ALTer EGO with a number of their hits, with lead singer Patrick Stump sounding as pure as ever on “Sugar, We’re Goin Down”. The band performed their surf rock tune “Uma Thurman”, which sounded as anthemic and mysterious as ever with solid guitars. “Welcome Los Angeles, we are Fall Out Boy”, greeted Pete Wentz. “When we heard they were doing this we asked if we could open the show and get this party started”.
The fans cheered and FOB continued with “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race”, with the crowd joining in on the pop-punk tune shouting “it’s a goddamn horse race”. Fire blazed behind the four musicians during a rather energetic “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)”, and Stump belted wonderfully, as the tune hit all of its marks in the arena setting. “This is a song about the most powerful thing in the world: love”, said Wentz. Patrick banged the keys for “The Last Of The Real Ones”, seated at the piano, while guitarist Joe Trohman held it down with solid finger work. Wentz’s bass shined on “Dance, Dance”, with the audience enjoying and singing along. Pete mentioned that fans should keep their eyes peeled this week, as the band releases “Love From The Other Side” today, January 18. For their final two songs, Fall Out Boy delighted the crowd with “Thanks fr the Mmrs”, with memorable guitars and drums by Andy Hurley powering the danceable rock song, followed by a rather lively “Centuries” and the crowd singing in on the “Tom’s Diner” interpolation of “duh duh duh duhs”.
Besides CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry, Armenian singer-songwriter Rosa Linn was the sole female artist on the line-up, wearing a “Stop the Blockade” jacket and jumping about the stage for her song “Choices”, while hitting some great notes. Her tune “WDIA (Would Do It Again)”, recorded with Duncan Laurence was wonderful on piano, starting off as a ballad and picking up by the chorus. Linn spun it into a mash-up for a moment with “Every Breath You Take”, encouraging the audience to light up their phones. Linn’s voice fits sonically somewhere between Evanescence and Celine Dion and the singer concluded with her rather catchy, worldwide radio hit “Snap”, holding up an Armenian flag by the end.
French electro-rock band Phoenix played a few tracks off their seventh studio album Alpha Zulu, including the title track, all which were recorded at the iconic Louvre. They appropriately kicked off with one of their big hits “Lisztomania”, with the band beautifully sihouetted until the first chorus when the strobes went strong and the crowd was loving it and singing along. The bass-heavy, funky “Lasso” had the lights flashing non-stop, lifting the mood with Phoenix’s unique danceable indie rock sound, with Deck d’Arcy on bass, Laurent Brancowitz on lead guitar and Christian Mazzalai on rhythm guitar, joining lead singer Thomas Mars and percussionists Robin Coudert (also on keyboards) and Thomas Hedlund. Greens and blues flashed rapidly for new tune “After Midnight” and by the end Mars told the fans, “We’re coming back to the Forum at some point, I think it’s this summer but it’s not out yet”. The arrangement was stellar with twinkling guitars and great picking skills on the nu-disco tune “If I Ever Feel Better” as well as an intense guitar instrumental. The danceable, new wave tune “Alpha Zulu” had red, blue and green hues bouncing around the stage during the rhythmic, foot-tapping tune and they followed it up with the infectious “Tonight” (without Ezra Koenig), as colors swirled. Phoenix wrapped with their epic hit “1901” which is arguably one of the best indie rock tunes of the 2000s. The guitars and lighting were in perfect sync with one another. The band played “Identical” while Mars decided to venture out into the crowd, climbing up to the second floor to high-five fans.
Alt-rock band Beach Weather brought some much-needed musical warmth, starting off with the slick guitar and drums on “Swoon” followed by the feel-good “Chit Chat”. A groovy, 80s-tinged “Trouble With This Bed” brought some synthy vibes and they concluded with popular hit “Ex, Drugs, Etc.”, which was initially released in 2016 and re-released in 2022.
30 Seconds To Mars frontman (and award-winning actor) Jared Leto was on hand to introduce English rockers Muse, saying, “Los Angeles, I missed you so fucking much, you have no idea”. Muse dropped the hits as well as songs from 2022 album Will Of The People, starting off with the title track’s antagonizing chant, with memorable percussion as singer Matt Bellamy was joined by Dominic Howard on drums, Chris Wolstenholme on bass and another percussionist, Dan Lancaster. They continued with the harder “Hysteria”, with Bellamy’s voice really breaking through and on his knees playing at one point over aggressive guitars and a killer guitar break. Another new song called “Won’t Stand Down” was equally gargantuan, with flashing multi-color strobes and Bellamy hitting major notes as fire blazed on stage. From the opening note, fans knew “Madness” was coming, Bellamy sunk so perfectly into the melody. The fans sang along to the ethereal vocal, blending magnetic and bluesy elements, with incredible guitars and fire flashing, with Wolstenholme harmonizing on the vocals. Another new one, “Compliance” slapped with its new wave-y rock sound, Bellamy getting the crowd to clap along in sync and confetti shooting out to the floor seats, completely surprising everyone. Fans roared for the stadium-ready banger “Supermassive Black Hole”, with guitars and drums hitting hard and Wolstenholme joining Bellamy on the vocals, with Wolstenholme adding an urgent whisper effect. Bellamy, now wearing a lit-up superhero-style shirt with a Terminator-type arm-meets-handheld instrument played the synthy moments of “Uprising” while indigo lights enveloped the Forum. The crowd joined in like it was a religious moment as the iconic song banged on. Muse ended with another major tune, “Starlight”, which was nothing short of beautiful, as fans lifted their voices yet again. “We’ll see you on tour”, said Bellamy at the song’s close.
Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES launched into “He Said She Said” with singer Lauren Mayberry in a neon green highlighter dress with sparkles, spinning around during the sweet and exhilarating song. The dance-pop “Forever” was stunning, with Mayberry’s alluring voice complementing the pounding drum and synth instrumentation. Pink and blue hues floated and twinkled across the arena during pop/rock hit “Miracle” and strobe lights flashed during “Asking For A Friend”. CHVRCHES’ 2012 debut single “The Mother We Share” was a dream to hear live with bouncing synth and the band’s final song was the new wave-y “Clearest Blue”. Before leaving the stage, Mayberry remaked on the ALTer EGO musicians’ attire overall, Mayberry said, “The dudes dress really boring. Thanks for letting me wear my green sparkles”.
Detroit rocker Jack White and his band offered an explosive set, including some of his solo material, and others from his bands The Raconteurs and The White Stripes. He was joined by talented musicians including drummer Daru Jones, bassist Dominic John Davis and keyboardist Quincy McCrary. White’s set started with the 2021 tune “Taking Me Back”, with its erratic guitar and organ followed by an equally-explosive “Fear of the Dawn” with White jogging in place with his guitar at one point. Following the muffled, percussion-heavy “Hi De Ho”, White and his band played the rather loud “What’s The Trick?”, with warped guitars and more muffled vocals, blending the garage tune with some aggressive spoken lyrics and what sounded like some rather strong improv from the entire ensemble. White’s vocals were strong on “A Tip from You to Me” with its 70s-style folk rock sound and stellar piano. The White Stripes’ “Icky Thump” was all kinds of thrashing and enjoyable and it was followed by The Raconteurs tune “Steady, As She Goes”, so perfect for an arena with loads of guitar shredding and roars from the crowd. White and his band finished off with The White Stripes hit “Seven Nation Army” with drummer Jones offering some dirtier percussion than usual, as a blue tiger bared its fangs (’cause the song is seriously a beast).
LA’s own Red Hot Chili Peppers took everyone home with three live debuts, a cover and an intro jam (sans Anthony Kiedis) that lasted a few minutes. Then Kiedis joined in, starting the melody offstage for the live debut of the tempo shape-shifting “Fake as [email protected]”, eventually standing in front of the Dodgers drum kit. New 2022 tune “Black Summer” was introduced by Kiedis as being “for everyone between Monrovia and Alhambra”. The crowd cheered and John Frusciante’s guitar, Flea’s bass and Chad Smith’s drumming were so stellar. Flea screamed, “woohoo, yeah motherfuckers!” Frusciante wore a beanie and a flannel, Flea and Smith were both sporting Lakers purple (with Flea’s hair matching) and Kiedis had on a black mesh tee.
“This one goes out to all the girls from Encino, honestly”, said Kiedis. “Snow (Hey Oh)” got the crowd echoing the “hey ohs” as Flea marched across the stage with his guitar. “Find me at Randy’s Donuts after this motherfucker”, said Flea. Funky new one “Aquatic Mouth Dance” was next, followed by the purity of “Californication”, with such classic guitars. A stage wash of blue hues surrounded the entire band and it was a hypnotic and timeless moment while fans had their hands up singing to one of Chili Peppers’ most popular hits. Frusciante’s guitar break was especially memorable as well, and he harmonized with Kiedis on some well-placed “woos”. Flea mentioned the band was playing the next one for the first time, that song being “The Drummer”, with Kiedis dropping some lively dance moves. “I know there were a zillion bands, thanks for waiting for us to play”, said Flea. “I love this city!” John Frusciante sang a wonderful cover version of Loggins & Messina’s “Danny’s Song” that seemed to have stopped time. Chili Peppers performed their live debut of rock/hip-hop hybrid “Tippa My Tongue” with more brilliance on guitar from Frusciante. “By The Way” closed out the entire night, with super cool drums from Smith, while Frusciante played guitar back-to-back with Kiedis singing. The whole arena was in unison singing along to the energetic tune.
Main image by Anna Lee for iHeartRadio