It was cold, crisp and clear Tuesday afternoon as concertgoers lined up outside KeyArena for Deck the Hall Ball. But indoors it was snowing.
The snow was fake, or course, and confined to a giant video screen. But the flurries were just enough to lend a holiday vibe to 107.7 The End’s annual year-end concert, which featured such hot alternative-rock acts as Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Alt-J and Seattle’s new-folk darlings, The Head and the Heart.
Seattle station KNDD has been staging its Deck the Hall Ball for more than 20 years as a well-stocked concert marathon for faithful listeners. This year’s holiday-themed concert also provided bands with a chance to thank the station, as well as fans, for their support.
The thank-yous came in the form of tight, spirited sets showcasing the bands’ best music. There were no shoe-gazers in this energetic lineup.
As the lone Seattle group in the eight-act concert, The Head and the Heart turned its vigorous set of folk-rock songs into a homecoming celebration after weeks on the road in support of its current album, “Let’s Be Still,” on Sub Pop Records.
Kicking off with the powerful “Shake,” the set featured songs from “Let’s Be Still” as well as the band’s 2011 debut album. The selection included the beautiful, haunting acoustic ballad, “Rivers and Roads.”
The concert’s international lineup featured three English bands — Alt-J, Arctic Monkeys and Foals — as well as Phoenix from France, Chvrches from Scotland and up-and-coming singer Lorde from New Zealand.
The headlining slot went to New York’s Vampire Weekend, which closed the music marathon with a grinning, raucous, fast-paced set featuring such tunes as the retro-sounding “Diane Young” and “Unbelievers,” as well as “Holiday,” “Step,” “Cousins” and “Giving Up the Gun.”
Opening with “Countdown,” Phoenix played an explosive set that launched the crowd into a bobbing, arm-waving frenzy. Led by affable, high-spirited showman Thomas Mars, the set featured such hard-driving songs as “Lasso,” “Lisztomania,” “S.O.S. in Bel Air” and “1901.”
British group Alt-J, cleverly blending hip-hop, rock and folk, was cool and mysterious, performing the songs “Tessellate,” “Matilda” and “Taro” with stormy self-confidence.
Arctic Monkeys, led by singer-guitarist Alex Turner (whose slicked-back hair and retro suit recalled the Righteous Brothers in the ’60s) offered a hotblooded set featuring “Dancing Shoes,” “Snap Out of It” and “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.”
New Zealand’s Lorde followed opening sets by Chvrches and Foals. At 17, the sultry, alluring singer with long brown hair has gained a rabid following with her debut album, “Pure Heroine,” and hit single “Royals.”
Her brief set (with drummer and keyboardist) suggested she has some growing to do, but great potential. Her fans were vocal and animated.