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Updated Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 01:35 PM

Deck the Hall Ball offers generous musical afternoon

By Gene Stout
Special to The Seattle Times

Concert Review |

A hard-rocking holiday spirit prevailed at Deck the Hall Ball Tuesday at KeyArena, despite a dearth of actual yuletide tunes (indeed, this was no Andy Williams concert).

The marathon, eight-hour concert presented by 107.7 FM "The End" featured an impressive lineup of popular bands — The Killers, M83, Metric, Awolnation, Passion Pit, the Lumineers and Grouplove, as well as up-and-coming groups Of Monsters and Men and the Joy Formidable.

Though Santa Claus and a gruesome Christmas troll made appearances, the emphasis was mostly on the music. Styles ranged from the retro folk rock of the Lumineers to the dense electronic dance music of M83.

Deck the Hall Ball began 20 years ago as an acoustic show. The annual concert has always reflected what's current in modern rock and alternative radio.

Tuesday's top band was The Killers, the powerhouse Las Vegas rock band led by singer Brandon Flowers. The group's hourlong set featured "Runaways," the debut single from the current album, "Battle Born," as well as such popular songs as "Mr. Brightside," "Human," "For Reasons Unknown" and "Miss Atomic Bomb," accompanied by a spectacular light show that looked more volcanic than atomic.

M83's colorful, beat-driven set featured mesmerizing lighting effects and songs from the group's new double album, "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming."

Metric, led by blond-haired Emily Haines, recalled the energy of '70s arena rock. The set focused on the current album, "Synthetica." But a highlight was the song "Gimme Sympathy," written at nearby Bear Creek Studios and released in 2009 on the group's "Fantasies" album.

Awolnation, featuring singer Aaron Bruno, clearly loved playing its thunderous electronic rock in a big arena. Fans responded by hoisting cigarette lighters and cellphones and chanting, "Awol-nation! Awol-nation!"

Passion Pit showcased its dreamy dance-pop and shimmering piano on the song "Take a Walk."

The Lumineers offered a solid set of compelling (if somewhat derivative) folk-rock songs, playing "Submarines," "Ho Hey" and "I Ain't Nobody's Problem," a gritty country-blues song written by Sawmill Joe, an obscure Colorado songwriter.

Grouplove, a Los Angeles indie-rock band, thrilled the crowd with "Slow" and "Tongue Tied."

Gene Stout:

M83 performed Tuesday at KeyArena as part of the Deck the Hall Ball.


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