SAN JOSE — Some of the biggest names in alt-rock descended on the SAP Center on a soggy Saturday night in the South Bay for radio station Alt 105.3’s annual holiday show, Not So Silent Night. The concert is perpetually a showcase of some of the most prominent artists in the genre, but this year’s lineup was even more stacked than usual, headlined by a pair of acts who’ve filled arenas by themselves in Twenty One Pilots and Mumford & Sons.
The undercard was nothing to take lightly as well, packing a punch with The 1975, The Raconteurs, Of Monsters and Men and up-and-comers White Reaper. It was a point that wasn’t lost on Twenty One Pilots frontman Tyler Joseph.
“Shows like these are unusual,” Joseph said early in his band’s set. “It’s rare to have so many headlining bands under one roof.”
It was also feat to pack so much musical muscle into a show that started at 7 p.m. In recent years the show has installed a rotating stage that removed the need for set changes and kept the focus on the music over the course of the nearly five hours. Twenty One Pilots have been frequent visitors to the Bay Area during their touring run for Trench, playing Oakland Arena, a recent visit to Sacramento’s Golden One Center and sandwiching a headlining set at Outside Lands last summer.
Twenty One PIlots’ Saturday night headlining set, while abbreviated, still packed a punch. The band brought its burning car with it, and it was the focal point of the stage production. The band opened with the ferocity of “Jumpsuit” and followed it up with the clean hip-hop flow of “Levitate.”
The duo followed that up with “Heathens,” the bouncy “The Hype” and “Stressed Out,” which was amended by an additional cover of P. Diddy’s “Bad Boys For Life.”
The performance turned intimate as Joseph sat down to the piano to isolate parts of the crowd singing along to create a massive chorus. That masterful performance ended with drummer Josh Dun playing a drum kit while crowdsurfing on a platform.
Following “Chlorine,” Twenty One Pilots closed out their brief set with “Car Radio,” which saw Joseph venture to the back of the arena floor to scale a platform.
English folk rockers Mumford and Sons, returning just couple of months following its Chase Center show, honored their past and present with their set. https://youtu.be/3nzLTNwEllcThe band’s production was no-frills compared to some of the other acts, but its raised platforms allowed the members some additional room to operate. Opening with “Guiding Light” and “Little Lion Man.”
Marcus Mumford and crew ripped through their songs with gusto, playing the majority of their most recent album, Delta, such as “Blind Leading the Blind,” “Slip Away” and “The Wolf.” The band’s multi-part harmonies and Americana identity was locked in. Mumford led fans through a singalong of the hit “I Will Wait” before taking the stage by himself to introduce closer “Delta.”
Manchester’s The 1975 turned in one of the most varied and eclectic sets of the night. Opening with the angsty and aggressive “People,” it was easy to guess the band’s set was going in a different direction. Images of world leaders, protests and lyrics flashed on the screen behind the band. Vocalist Matty Healy kept the audience guessing where The 1975 was going next.
Songs like “Give Yourself a Try” and “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” swung into an ’80s-inspired alt-pop direction as the projection screen provided the bright visuals to match the mood. A pair of backup dancers flanked Healy for the majority of the performance, providing the occasional moment for the frontman to join them in choreographed moments. The band returned to its socially conscious message for the infectious sounds of “Love It If We Made It.”
After The 1975 wrapped what seemed to be its final song with “The Sound,” Healy paused for a moment before realizing, “We have five more minutes left.” The band wasted no time jumping into closing song “Sex.”
Jack White and The Raconteurs turned in one of the night’s best sets—nine blistering songs soaked in classic rock, blues and Americana. The foundation of the band’s sound is built on the interaction—both vocally and on guitar—between White and singer-guitarist Brendan Benson.
Starting with “Bored and Razed,” the vast majority of the band’s set came from Help Us Stranger, while mixing in a couple of older cuts along the way. Donning all black along with a motorcycle hat, White showed why he has developed into the iconic rock and roller he is. The Raconteurs rolled through “Level,” “Old Enough” and “Don’t Bother Me.” On extended closer “Steady, as She Goes,” the band even mixed in a little nod to The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”
The band’s performance earned a standing ovation.
Icelandic folk rock band Of Monsters and Men made its return to the Bay Area and its acoustic foundation was on full display in an energetic seven-song set with multi-part harmonies laid atop lush acoustic instrumentation. The variety of instruments on stage made the band’s sound more complex and varied.
“The is a dance song for people who can’t dance, ” frontman Ragnar Þórhallsson said as an introduction to an earlier song. The band worked through “Mountain Sound,” “Dirty Paws,” “Wars” (with call-and-response lyrics) and closed out with “Six Weeks.”
Kentucky rock band White Reaper opened up the show with a brief but fiery set that brought its brand of upbeat indie garage punk. Singer-guitarist Tony Esposito led through some new material, including “Pills” and “Must Be Right.”
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.