By Audrey Rock
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/30/18 – If you haven’t been in the basement of The Forum, (it’s a rare privilege,) and you have an opportunity to do so, don’t miss it. It reeks of legend. As you enter the main hall, you’re greeted with doors painted to commemorate the rock greats who have graced the stage of the Fabulous Forum. U2, The Temptations, Tom Petty, The Supremes, and of course…Black Sabbath, with band signatures scrawled recklessly in a reminder that they, too, rocked here.
It’s an arresting, mood-altering sight. Behind those doors on January 19th, cameras and press set up for the red carpet of iHeartRadio’s first ever ALTer Ego event, acutely aware of their biggest interview question—one that most of the artists and presenters had at the forefront of their minds as well: What is it like to know you will be on the stage of such a legendary venue? The answer, invariably, was that it is “amazing” to be at The Forum, especially given the caliber of the venue and the history of its stage. Some had performed here before; even better, some were here for the first time. Seeing their exhilaration was infectious.
The event was the first of its kind for iHeartRadio—a sort of hardcore festival of alternative rock, open to those who devote their music-loving hearts to the art of Alt, and headed by the genre’s biggest superstars. Mumford and Sons, Cage The Elephant, Spoon, Beck, The National, AJR, and Dashboard Confessional contributed to what turned out to be a gloriously sweaty celebration of the genre. Presenters included Maddie Ziegler, Taylor Lautner, Vanessa Grimaldi, Bella Thorne, Chris Harrison, Jana Kramer, and Darren Criss. Not all of them appeared on the red carpet, but those who did proclaimed enthusiasm for the spirit of the event. ALTer EGO gave virtually everyone present a chance to connect, celebrate, and share their love of music.
“I have a lot of friends who were really into the music scene,” said presenter Anneliese Puccini of The Bachelor. “So they were always introducing me to little underground bands. That’s influenced me. I love dance, I love all genres of music.” Puccini, who is a painter of large abstract oils, relies on loud music “blasting” to aid in her work. “It really helps inspire my art.”
Puccini’s love of loud music brought her to the event. She said she was thrilled to be invited to present. “I love all the bands that are playing tonight,” she told THT on the red carpet. “And so I just thought it would be a good opportunity to see them live and hang out.”
Pucinni stated she was a “huge fan” of Mumford and Sons, and noted that she had a friend who is good friends with Nick (Nicholas Petricca) of Walk The Moon. “I’m actually excited to try to flag him down at some point and say hi,” said Puccini, visibly giddy at the prospect of making a connection with the eclectic musician, who showed later on the red carpet in full Alt-rock regalia—all black everything, with a few white stripes to stand out.
Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional had already warmed up for the big show with an intimate acoustic set backstage when he hit the red carpet. He told THT why the name “Dashboard Confessional” is important to him. “Some years ago I wrote a song called ‘The Sharp Hint of New Tears,’” he said. “It says ‘On the way home/This car hears my confessions’. Home being—well, I’d already lived in a van, so what can I tell you? In that event, I wrote on the corner of the page ‘Dashboard Confessional.’ I thought if I ever started a band, I’d call it that. I forgot about it for awhile, and then I found the paper. “ Carrabba’s is a classic success story for a band that started, quite literally, from the ground up.
He said the band’s influences come from a variety of sources. “I think we’re all influenced by the punk and indie world that we came out of,” he said. Carrabba specifically pointed out The Cure and Guns n’ Roses as bands he “grew up with” and was influenced by. The band’s new record, “Crooked Shadows,” is due out Feb. 9th. Their successful return to the stage followed an 8-year hiatus. The band played with the rough enthusiasm inherent in a veteran alternative band, performing “Hands Down,” “We Fight,” “Vindicated,” and a song Carrabba proclaimed to the audience is “about trying to get rid of Trump”: “Heart Beat Here.”
Other highlights included the ever-unaffected Beck, who opened his set with the 1994 smash hit “Loser,” and followed through with killer dance tracks from his most recent album, “Colors”; together with Cage the Elephant, he brought the event to a rousing conclusion. Elephant’s fire-splayed, delightfully unhinged performance made for a spectacular closing act.
The concert was broadcast live across 60 iHeartRadio stations, and a live video feed was broadcast via YouTube. The first ALTer EGO event, in one way or another, was open to everyone. And although it had its flaws (it was an overwhelmingly male event), it has the potential to become, in the future, a hard core Los Angeles staple in the music festival circuit. Because there’s no better way to celebrate music, in any genre, than performing it in a way that is inclusive to anyone who wants to enjoy it.