The annual holiday event known as Wrex the Halls is a production of alt-rock radio station 91X. Usually composed of a smorgasbord of choice acts, 2013's Wrex was an exceptional bill. One attendee told me this was the "best show by far," and I am inclined to agree. Reason? Queens of the Stone Age!
Some up-and-coming bands opened the festivities early. English indie-rockers Alt-J impressed with some layered, folk-inflected pop, and their soaring music has been compared to Coldplay. "Tessellate" was haunting, beautiful.
Arctic Monkeys — another Brit band — started playing their latest radio hit, "Do I Wanna Know," as the stage rotated. That made for a dramatic entrance, but perhaps the band should have spent more time getting their sound right. It was mushy and over-loud. But there's no denying the Sheffield four-piece has lots of energy and sex appeal.
Cage the Elephant never disappoints. They mixed their radio hits with newer songs and impressed the crowd with lead singer Matt Shultz’ crowd-surfing all the way back through the pit to the soundboard!
Vampire Weekend seemed to be a band the audience either loved or hated. Several attendees started checking their smartphones or making a beer run when they came on. Perhaps Vampire Weekend's laidback sound was a bit of a buzz kill after the histrionics of Cage the Elephant.
But all was made right again when Queens of the Stone Age appeared. This is a band that doesn't get around much, so the anticipation and excitement to see them was palpable. Singer/guitarist Josh Homme was pleasant and chatty between their powerful songs. New radio hit "I Sat by the Ocean" was well-received, and the crowd rocked out to "My God Is the Sun." The arena erupted with the first few notes of the cowbell introduction to "Little Sister," and singer Homme lit up a cigarette onstage while he sang "Make It Wit Chu." Seducing San Diego with their music and friendly patter, and a promise "to be back soon," the Queens were indeed a grand finale.
- Concert: 91X presents Wrex the Halls
- Seats: L24, Row 8, Seat 14
- Date: December 8
- Venue: Valley View Casino Center