Last night in Los Angeles, iHeart performed its annual Alter Ego show, a showcase of music’s biggest alternative acts. There were several takeaways from the four-plus-hour gig, which included Coldplay, Twenty One Pilots, Maneskin, Willow, All Time Low, Imagine Dragons and Kings Of Leon, as well as surprise guest Avril Lavigne, who nearly steal the show. .
The first takeaway is that after nearly two years of dying live music, the artists no longer take anything for granted, resulting in incredible performances. Coldplay’s Chris Martin thanked the crowd for braving everything they had to go through – traffic, tests, vaccines, masks – to watch the show, while Twenty One Pilots’ Tyler Joseph assured the crowd that the live music would go nowhere.
Every performer on stage seemed genuinely excited to be there, neither did Lavigne and Coldplay, who stood out on a night where every performer rose to the challenge.
Lavigne, who came out as a surprise guest between All Time Low and the series’ final act, Twenty One Pilots, was given a hero’s welcome. Between recent pop/punk resurgence and nostalgia for the 2000s, the time has come for a huge year for Lavigne, who has a new album, Love Sux, released on February 25. Whether it was watching the crowd go wild as she took the stage, seeing everyone scream “My Happy Ending” or listening to five women in their twenties in the parking lot talk about the way Lavigne was their mid and elementary school hero and is still the coolest, it’s clear there’s a generation of fans out there who are excited to welcome Lavigne in and see her succeed. And she couldn’t help but smile as she basked in the adoration of the crowd, creating a memorable love feast between performer and audience.
The same was true for Coldplay. Obviously, Coldplay haven’t gone anywhere for the past few years, but thanks to their consistent performances and adventurous work, they continue to become one of the best live bands in all of music. Of course, this type of show is perfect for a band like Coldplay, which has such a rich catalog of hits.
Then when you pair songs like “Fix You,” “Yellow,” “Clocks,” and “Viva La Vida” with Martin’s hard work and kind personality, like thanking the crowd and joking that Kings Of Leon wrote better songs than “Viva La Vida”, but “we still love playing it”, you have a masterful set. They closed their hour with the anthem “Sky Full Of Stars”, which has become a modern arena favorite.
It’s also worth noting that during their feel-good and very jovial All Time Low set and during their closing set Twenty One Pilots both made opening Coldplay jokes for them, showing how coldplay has become the benchmark for today’s alternative scene.
During Twenty One Pilots’ superb set, Joseph expanded on the Coldplay theme by sharing how Martin once left him a voicemail about how much he loved the band’s music and what it meant to him. Made for a very nice and real time. Now, of course, Twenty One Pilots are also one of the biggest live bands in the world, headlining arenas all by themselves. And they showed why again, having fun especially with covers of “Bennie And The Jets” by Elton John and part of “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance, alongside hits like “Stressed Out”, “Ride” and “Pagans”. The set ended with their own live anthem, the stellar “Car Radio”.
While nearly every band was an arena headliner in their own right, the only newer artist, Italian rock band Maneskin, did very well. The band’s five-song set was an absolute blast and filled the room well, although looking at the band’s style and swagger, one couldn’t help but dream of seeing Maneskin in a sweaty, crowded little club. (safely of course).
Alter Ego having become the biggest alternative show on the live scene these days, it has become a barometer of the state of the alternative scene. And watching the show, it was clear that alternative music is in a very dynamic place right now.