Twisted 6: Featuring Oasis, Blink 182, Fiona Apple,
 Run-DMC and others at the Allstate Arena

Sun Times   
Dec 6 '99
(Chicago's Twisted 6 concert - Dec 4 '99)

by Jim DeRogatis

"Isn't it something how 25 minutes fly by when you're having fun?" the members of Blink 182 cracked during Twisted 6, Q101's annual Christmas concert Saturday. 

Rare is the rock 'n' roll band that can't condense its best moments into a half-hour set, and the most rewarding performers during the eight-band, nearly eight-hour alternative-rock marathon did exactly that. 

Techno maven Moby kicked things off with a truncated version of his powerhouse show performed at Metro several months ago. Sampling songs from his masterful new album "Play" as well as older dance-floor classics such as "Go," he was a nonstop blur of frenetic energy, and his enthusiasm filled the cavernous hall. 

Hip-hop legends Run-DMC didn't fare nearly as well, and they took the time constraints too far, delivering a mere 15 minutes. Their tired exhortations of "wave your hands in the air" repeated the half-hearted pandering of their set at the Tibetan Freedom Concert last summer, but it was especially disappointing here since the group recently released a strong new album, "Crown Royal," that went unsampled.

Chicago's industrial bubblegum merchants Filter set a new standard for how many arena-rock cliches could be crammed into 30 minutes. Blasting pyromaniac flash pots and shrouding himself in fog, singer and auteur Richard Patrick seemed determined to say the word "Chicago" and the nastiest of curse words (the 12-letter one) at least twice during every song. 

Fiona Apple was refreshingly cliche- and curse-free, but her set suffered from the worst sound of the evening. "I'm the girl who does not know how to speak in public places," she said midway through her five songs, but we already knew that from the speaking-in-tongues bad-sound freakout that followed her first tune. 

Despite the technical problems and her over-caffeinated persona, Apple's performance was impressive--especially the cathartic "Criminal"--and the subtle, sometimes jazzy, sorta bluesy playing of her six-piece band positioned her as an alternative Rickie Lee Jones.

The members of the San Diego punk trio Blink 182 went out of their way to be obnoxious, spitting at each other and making lewd cracks about oral sex, but you had to love them nonetheless. They took themselves much less seriously than anyone else on the bill, and their set buzzed by on a hyperactive rush of goofy joie de vivre.

The highlight: an a cappella "Silent Night" that prompted the sold-out crowd to flick lighters en masse. (It was the only concession all night to Christmas music.)

Oasis followed, and the Britpop heroes were by far the evening's stars. They delivered a tight, spirited set of four of their strongest tunes ("Cigarettes and Alcohol," "Supersonic," "Wonderwall," "Champagne Supernova") plus a killer cover of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter."

The evening's two headliners suffered in part because their songs simply weren't as good, but also because they didn't follow their predecessors' example of keeping it short and sweet.

The Foo Fighters' hour dragged on for what seemed like triple that. The band's older garage-punk ("Monkeywrench") merged uneasily with its recent balladry ("Learn to Fly"), and bandleader Dave Grohl stopped the show dead when he climbed off stage and sang a dreadful, country-tinged love song to a group of girls in the front row (all the while chewing a big wad of gum). 

Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale also climbed into the crowd, but that was a lot more inspiring, coming during a rampaging version of his group's first big hit. The band has perfected its live assault to a point at which it even rivals the polished rock machine of the Smashing Pumpkins. But as its set list dragged on, it became increasingly obvious that Bush writes two kinds of songs: the fast grunge numbers that all sound like "Everything Zen," and the slow ones that all sound like "Glycerine."