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Twice is nice with Hoobastank double header

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Hoobastank at a previous Las Vegas show.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

Hundreds seeking refuge from the craned necks and burnt hands typically associated with the Fourth of July congregated on 6th and Fremont Streets to celebrate America's 233rd birthday with Rock the Block. Hoobastank headlined the all-ages outdoor performance. Hed (p.e.), Living Things and local band Otherwise opened.

If you missed Rock the Block in lieu of explosions in the sky or were too busy watching your TiVo recording of Joey Chestnut eating a world record-breaking 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes, you didn't miss much ... except the invitation to attend a (relatively) unannounced acoustic set by Hoobastank at Wasted Space inside the Hard Rock.

Rock the Block brought together music fans of all ages.

The crowd at Rock the Block consisted of nu-metal teens with Mohawks, children climbing on their parents' shoulders and Megan Fox look-a-likes wearing shoes nobody should bring to a concert. It was as if everyone had simply wandered by the blocked off area downtown and decided to check out whatever bands were playing – in reality, many people probably did just that. Unfortunately for the bands and the dedicated fans in attendance, it created an overall atmosphere of indifference.

Still, the bands tried. Local rockers Otherwise and St. Louis-based Living Things gave spirited performances well received by the crowd. Unfortunately, hed (p.e.) followed by filling the stage with far too much political commentary, curse words and crude jokes that went over well with existing fans fell far short of being an overall crowd-pleaser.

It was a far cry from headliners Hoobastank, whose frontman, Doug Robb, apologized to a little girl for all the cursing going on at the concert. Hoobatank's set list consisted of the band's (mostly) family-friendly catchy pop rock and power ballads, including the requisite hits "Crawling in the Dark" and "The Reason." The band's energy and solid performance was enough to overlook the humidity and lack of literal fireworks.

Hoobastank was best, however, hours after Rock the Block had ended. The band played a short but sweet acoustic set at Wasted Space inside the Hard Rock. The performance, which Robb told the Rock the Block crowd had been added at the last minute, wasn't heavily advertised (Wasted Space did tweet about it, though), but drew a far more energetic crowd than the downtown concert.

While their acoustic set list consisted only of about half a dozen songs, it was far more memorable than their first set of the night. Even Hoobastank's hormone-driven energetic anthem "Inside of You" stood out more when played acoustically.

The band's unassuming personality resonated in the smaller casino venue. Before the performance, the members happily broke away from their bottle service to talk to and take photos with fans. Once onstage, they didn't leave outreached hands hanging. The personable foursome high-fived whenever possible, and the genunie connection they made translated to the music and atmosphere well.

While Hoobastank has yet to reclaim the capture the success of 2003's The Reason, if their live shows are any indication, they're not down and out just yet.

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