A KCRW Eclectic Evening with Coldplay and More Rocks Universal City

KCRW presented "A Sounds Eclectic Evening," the radio station's annual benefit show, which was headlined by Coldplay this year. The event featured an array of artists whose diversity was intended to mirror KCRW's eclecticism.

Saturday's event was an aural fixation of genre jumping. From mellow pop to funk rock and everything in between.

Show opener, The Like, played saccharin acoustic-tinged pop music and played it well. Comprised of three talented young women, the Los Angeles-based band's brand of pop/rock has been building momentum for much of the past year. Recent coverage in Rolling Stone as one of this year's bands to watch should further propel the trio into the spotlight in the coming months.

"It was funny playing at the show and it was fun. We went on first, played three songs in 12 minutes of magic, and then we stayed for awhile," said Tennessee Thomas, the drummer for The Like.

No time was wasted between the beginning act, as KCRW DJ's emceed and moved the show right along.

Nellie McKay entertained the receptive audience with her solo piano compositions and beautifully sung melodies, which ranged from soulful and wrenching, to childishly playful and humorous.

Looking like a blond rag doll, she charmed the audience, citing how she stepped on Jennifer Aniston's shoes as inspiration for one of her self-proclaimed angry songs. Thomas said that she enjoyed McKay's performance and that she seemed to have a lot of personality.

The audience shuffled about the Universal Amphitheatre throughout the sold-out event, which was rescheduled for Saturday to accommodate headliner Coldplay's studio schedule.

A special guest performance by one-man band Joseph Arthur was a highlight of the evening. The songwriter used a loop/sampling station throughout his performance, recording beats, lyrics, and choruses, and then performing live over them. His sound was a combination of charming folk and raucous blues that was too inventive to sound retro.

Aqualung seemed to be the name on everyone's lips Saturday. The group releases their first domestic album on March 22 and seems destined for critical acclaim (I've heard the album and it sounds great!). With just a piano and guitar variations, Aqualung made sorrowful piano pop seem blissful with their grand, dramatic tunes.

Van Hunt, an old school influenced funk band, combined soul, rock and funk, and lifted the mood of the audience in time for the much anticipated performance of Latino-rockers Cafe Tacuba, who do their own part to combine as many genres of music as possible in eclecticism.

Paul Buchanan, part of Blue Nile, gave a rare performance as he sang his blues to the Universal Amphitheatre. As the last performance before Coldplay, Buchanan's music is charmingly heartbreaking. He played moody, mellow rock that often relies on his weeping inflections to convey the raw emotions of his lyrics.

The KCRW staff came out to applaud the audience for their support and announce with pleasure headliners Coldplay. KCRW was the first American radio station to play their emotional brit-pop and they thanked KCRW in their own way by playing energetic versions of audience favorites, plus songs from their new album, "X and Y."

Lead Singer Chris Martin was prancing and dancing like a schoolboy throughout the performance. The show was scheduled to be the band's first appearance in the U.S. in two years.

Eager to play their newer stuff, they still played much of their back catalog to "keep it familiar." They wowed the sold out venue with the hits, "Clocks," and, "The Scientist," blasting as the finale their first US single "Yellow." Coldplay's new material was promising and the band is soon launching a world tour in support of their new album.

"This was a great opportunity for bands and performers that don't get exposure often. KCRW does a great job helping new artists and we greatly appreciate it," said Thomas. "I remember I saw Coldplay at the Virgin Megastore when their first album came out. Only 20 people were there and now look the band is gigantic."

With the evening turned eclectic, people at the show left with smiles on their faces, and the bands left with much acclaim.