Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Festival Season: Lollapalooza Review - Day 1

Well how about that. Despite donning a Robo-Boot to protect my freshly broken foot/sprained ankle combo from an ill-advised (and poorly timed) skateboarding spill last Saturday, my first ever Lollapalooza also doubled as my most musically indulgent 3-day span in my life thus far. So now I'm going to do my best to recap (if not recapture) the diverse, epic, and gloried weekend spent in Grant Park, Chicago.

The Go! Team (2:15pm)

Listening to the Black Lips tear through their 1:15pm set while sweating through my t-shirt on the outside of a festival behind 20,000 other anxious patrons wasn't terribly easy to swallow. But once we did arrive, the Go! Team seemed prepared to cheer my spirits with their impressive energy that was even more so considering the scorching heat. The crowd was pretty substantial considering their relatively early slot and still lengthy line up, and the Team won them over blasting out tunes from both of their albums.

The Go! Team - Grip Like a Vice

The Kills (3:15pm)

Up next were London, UK's the Kills. Admittedly, I'm pretty sure I hadn't heard a single note from this gender-split twosome. It was strictly off the recommendation of a friend (who compared lead Allison "VV" Mosshart to a less attention- seeking Karen O), and the fact that nobody wanted to go see Duffy with me that lured me to the stage for their antics, and thankfully so. Not a great performance, admittedly, as the two seemed about to melt under the rays. But despite the elements, the strength of their songwriting shone through. Definitely one of the more pleasant finds of the festival, and one that might have the potential to truly hook me in a dark nightclub rather than a day fit for a picnic.

the Kills - Hitched

Gogol Bordello (4:15pm)

Though I opted to bask in the sun and stare gazingly at the big main stage screens, I couldn't help but notice that I may have been the only person in the strong crowd not moving a muscle. Instead, with "gypsy punks" Gogol Bordello leading by example, the response from the crowd was certainly notable. These guys build their reputation on a powerful live presence, which they brought 100% to the Lolla experience.

Gogol Bordello - Supertheory of Supereverything

Mates of State (5:15pm)

Of all the bands on the bill Friday afternoon, Mates of State could perhaps be the one most suited for a park on a bright, cloudless summer day; their pleasant synth-pop melodies seem crafted with exactly this environment in mind. Despite their suitability however, the husband and wife duo of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel never really seemed to emote much energy whatsoever, which was in time relayed onto the crowd who approved slightly to their breadth of tunes across their 10 year career, but never legitimately erupted at any point during the set.

Mates of State - The Re-Arranger

Grizzly Bear (5:45pm)

After leaving Mates of State relatively unimpressed, I set up shop at the "accessibility zone" (thank you, wounded paw) for a comfortable spot for Radiohead tourmates Grizzly Bear at the City stage, one of the smaller of the festival. At risk of getting criticized by the indie- masses, I've never given their critically acclaimed Yellow House much of a chance. So checking this set out, I felt very much like an open book ready to absorb "what all the fuss was about". The conclusion: subtle melodies over wistful vocals and enough resonance to make me revisit Yellow House, but still a skepticism and speculation that it might not have enough jump to really have my name on it.

Grizzly Bear - Knife

Bloc Party (6:15pm)

It has taken me well over a year to accept the fact that A Weekend in the City is not Silent Alarm. But in that time span, I've seen the best songs from both albums in a live environment three times, each time leaving me with a slightly more optimistic outlook on their sophomore effort. Now, as they seem primed for their third release, their upcoming single "Mercury", which experiments with loops and samples, seems like a valiant effort to expand and progress rather than stick to their guns - the ones which started as fierce semi automatics before retreating to handgun status. In general, the set was classic Bloc - high energy modern rock n' roll, a charismatic lead donning the t-shirt of a man he cannot vote for given his citizenship (guess who), and a rollicking crowd appreciative throughout.

Bloc Party - Mercury

Radiohead (8:00)

Fucking ruled. But of course we already knew that. My first RH experience was everything I could have hoped for - impeccable song selection (In Rainbows heavy, but with a healthy sprinkling of the highlights of all other albums with the exception of the dated Pablo Honey), impressive but simple effects, and flawless recreations of the impossible sounds which only Thom and Co. can bring to live on record, let alone in the flesh.

Radiohead - Bodysnatchers

- bbbykmbrly.


Scott said...

Nice review. Thanks for being another blogger who isn't gaga over Grizzly Bear!

I'm torn about Radiohead because I've seen them 5 times and this show was easily the worst of the 5, but Radiohead's worst is still very good.


Agree with you and Scott - Grizzly Bear aren't that great at all. It must be frustrating to see a show that you don't really enjoy that much..

But glad you thought the Kills were quite good. I love both them and the Go! Team so it was nice to see someone actually talk about them. I'm not keen on Gogol Bordello but would imagine I would enjoy them live - they have that kind of vibe.