Live 105’s Not So Silent Night may be named for the yuletide fave, but this year’s show came across more like Chrismakuh: Sporting a packed lineup of headliners, it felt as though eight festival days were crammed into a single (near-miraculous) night.
First up, a select number of contest winners were treated to an exclusive backstage performance from Silversun Pickups frontman Brian Aubert. After jokingly apologizing for not knowing any Killers tunes, Aubert played a three-song set including current radio paramour “Lazy Eye.” The Shins previewed new tracks (including lead singer James Mercer’s self-proclaimed favorite, “Australia”) off of the forthcoming Wincing the Night Away. Keyboardist Marty Crandall had another holiday gift in mind: “We got you chops!” he enthused, before the band played the hell out of their biggest hit, “Caring Is Creepy.”
Fortunately, the proclamation came prior to the Raconteurs set, who — despite being introduced in Huey-Lewis-and-the-News-fashion as “Jack White and his band the Raconteurs” — proved they have more chops than an industrial strength Cuisinart on electrifying performances of “Blue Veins” and their now insta-classic cover of “Bang Bang.” Modest Mouse served as the proverbial estranged family member at the holiday table, particularly with the addition of Smiths legend Johnny Marr as their new axeman. Their set divided the audience down the middle between elated devotees and put-off pop addicts, but a surprisingly wholehearted rendition of “Float On” united the two factions and a raucously mumbling, feedback-tastic performance of “Doin the Cockroach” sealed the schism.
Taking to the stage to what sounded like a czarist-era march, the Killers opened to a wave of adoration with “When You Were Young.” But once Brandon Flowers — decked out in Brokeback Buzzband western garb — started a speech about “connecting with the audience” later on in the set, some fled to the afterparty being held at Mighty.
The late-night fete’s opening acoustic act, Starsailor’s James Walsh, made a most unexpected usage of the Gorillaz’ “D.A.R.E.,” mixing it into his own “Four to the Floor” to pique the interest of a rowdy audience, many of whom anxiously awaited a set from British pop ingénue Lily Allen. When Allen finally did take to the stage, she came wrapped in a grey hoodie, a costume choice that not only empathized with fans who stood in line in the rain during her soundcheck, but also made her seem like a lovely and wee English present for rain-soaked San Franciscans. MELISSA GOLDSTEIN / PHOTOS BY CASEY FLANIGAN / CROWD INTERVIEWS BY STEPHANIE CASTRO
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A Not So Silent Night video wrap-up
We Asked: What band playing tonight would you most want playing at your family holiday party? COMMENT