Lollapalooza 2010, The Final Recap: The Opening Acts

In this final installment of our recap of Lollapalooza 2010, we cover the stars of tomorrow, or what is known in baseball circles as the Futures Game. Well, most of them are potential stars of tomorrow, anyway. One of them was a big time star of the past, and not even one with hipster cred like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, or Roky Erickson. Easily the biggest blemish on the lineup as a whole. Going a bit overboard in bashing the band, you say? Ha. We’re just getting warmed up.

Foxy Shazam, Friday, Sony Bloggie Stage
Our man Eldred is into these wildly ambitious Cincinnati glam rockers a tad more (which is to say, about a million times more) than we are, but after reading Eldred’s amusing interview with Foxy lead singer Eric Sean Nally, where he swore they could win over any crowd, we knew a bet when we saw one. Sadly, we missed the majority of the set thanks to the new reworking of the grounds (enter at Roosevelt? Dude, that’s a mile from here), but once we arrived, we got their appeal, instantly. And if we didn’t, their closing number sealed the deal. Nally leapfrogged onto the guitarist’s shoulders, who didn’t miss a beat on his solo until Nally started kicking his guitar. The keyboardist is literally stomping on the keys, and not Jerry Lee Lewis-style – more like Dance Dance Revolution-style. Nally then took off one of the drummer’s cymbals and chucked it at the drums before walking off the stage. The crowd went absolutely fucking bonkers. Can’t say we blame them.

Foxy_Shazam_02
Photo by Ashley Garmon

Nally also had the best between-song banter of the weekend, where he spoke of how his father knew John Lennon, which we’re pretty sure is bollocks. Either way, this was the best first performance we’ve seen since Hard-Fi in 2005.

HEALTH, Sunday, adidas MEGA Stage
Our boy Eldred was most impressed with this band, claiming that the blew the bad weather away with pure noise. The former sounds nice, the blowing away the weather. The latter, well, it depends. Are we talking Pixies/My Bloody Valentine noise, or, you know, noise noise?

(*hits band’s MySpace page*)

Ooh, My Bloody Valentine noise. Damn. Sorry we missed this one.

Stars, Saturday, Budweiser Stage
As a means of eliminating accidental bias – hey, we’re human, it happens – we tend to listen to bands knowing as little about them as possible. There are drawbacks to this, of course, especially if you cling to your hipster credibility like an oxygen mask. For example, we had no idea until after we were writing up Stars’ performance that they were all members of the much-beloved Broken Social Scene, which has ties to every Canadian band from the last 30 years. If we had, then perhaps we would have felt an urge to find a better superlative to describe their set than ‘pleasant.’ Ah, but hipster credibility means absolutely nothing to us, so here it is: they were fine, and occasionally great. (Their song “We Don’t Want Your Body” is easily the best track on their new album The Five Ghosts.) But at 2:00 in the afternoon on a steamy Saturday, we were perfectly content to lounge in the wake zone between the northern stages and let the mind wander. Read into that what you will.

Stars_01
Photo by Dave Mead

Skybox, Saturday, BMI Stage
It warms our hearts to see a group of kids play the kind of pop that their parents would have listened to as kids. We can’t imagine that they stand much of a chance in terms of radio success, but they might become soundtrack darlings, and goodness knows that’s a more lucrative career path these days than banking on radio to sell your record. We’re not sure the songwriting is at peak level yet, but they have the right idea, that’s for sure.

Nneka, Sunday, Parkways Foundation Stage
Eldred’s last five words made us glad we skipped her, especially considering she played in the middle of a rain shower with gale-force winds: “Too quiet for a festival.” This same thing plagued Neko Case last year, and we would listen to Neko sing the ingredients to a can of soup. Gorgeous voice, but sometimes the music just can’t measure up to the atmosphere. Props to Perry for trying to inject a little variety (read: color) into the lineup, but he’d be wise to take energy into consideration, especially on a Sunday when everyone is already wiped out.

Ancient Astronauts, Friday, Perry’s
The new Perry’s stage, and the space in front of it, is twice the size of last year’s location, and that’s good because it got really tight there last year, especially when Perry himself made an appearance. We dug the last Ancient Astronauts record, a strange blend of New York hip hop and French sensibility, but what we saw of their DJ set was pretty flat. Aside from a fun mash-up involving “Blitzkrieg Bop,” they seemed trapped in a reggae fugue. We lasted 15 minutes.

Astronauts_01
Photo by Matthew Taplinger

See that hat he’s wearing? They were inescapable all weekend, and every time we saw one – which was a lot – we thought, “Tool.” Just sayin’. If you own one, put it in the closet. Or better yet, throw it away.

The Soft Pack, Saturday, Budweiser Stage
It’s hard to stand apart from the guitar alt-rock crowd these days, and granted, these guys didn’t do a great job of standing apart themselves, but there was something in their sound that caught our ear. A similarity to Catherine Wheel, perhaps, or perhaps we were just relieved that someone was coming out of the gate bringing the energy, because Lollapalooza isn’t a music festival so much as a grueling three-day death march of music (if you’re over 30, that is). Bands like the Soft Pack at noon on Saturday are the equivalent of a shot of adrenaline to the heart. Once they were finished, we felt kind of bad for them once we saw that they’d be followed by the decidedly softer Wild Beasts. Don’t let the name fool you, they are anything but.

Blues Traveler, Saturday, Parkways Foundation Stage
Blues Traveler has played every even-numbered Chicago Lolla. The only thing we can’t figure out is why.

Modern rock radio hasn’t touched them since 1995. They never played any of the touring Lollas, receiving their first invite in 2006. Granted, much of that was due to the fact that John Popper & Co. were tied up with the traveling jam band H.O.R.D.E. tours until 1998, but doesn’t that alone demonstrate just how much one of these things is not like the others? Yes, there is some crossover between the festivals in terms of artists, but they largely involved the bands that were exceptions to the H.O.R.D.E. philosophy, not the other way around. And since they’ve been playing the festival every other year in the last five years, they haven’t been gone long enough for people to miss them now. For us, Blues Traveler at Lolla is like Homer Simpson reading a Far Side calendar: “I don’t get. I don’t get it. I….don’t get it.”

All right, rant over. Truth be told, we only heard their first two songs, “Runaround” (leading with the hit? Unheard of) and…wait for it…a cover of Sublime’s “What I Got.” Knowing wink, or calculated attempt to wring nostalgia from a moment that doesn’t call for it? You be the judge. We’ve judged enough as it is.

Raphael Saadiq, Friday, Parkways Foundation Stage
This is admittedly another ‘one of these things is not like the other’ situation, but as big fans of Saadiq’s 2008 album The Way I See It, we were thrilled that he brought his pitch-perfect Motown groove to Lolla. (Why they decided to have Mavis Staples play at the same time on the north side, however, was a head-scratcher.) Armed with a crack band – our friend Tim, a drummer, was most impressed with Saadiq’s drummer – Saadiq played a slightly sped-up version of his catalog, and threw everyone for a loop when his all-black band laid down the hardest guitar riff that anyone played all day. Smart move, given the crowd they were playing to were pretty damn white (hey, they were on the stage that Lady Gaga would grace six hours later). We even caught a guy so caught up in the groove that he danced like he didn’t have a care in the world. While our buddy Tim said, “Man, I’m so glad that’s not you,” we were actually moved by his lack of self-awareness. He was completely caught up in the moment; that’s what it’s all about in the end, right?

  

Lollapalooza 2010 recap: Friday

The Lolla grounds grew again, stretching the grounds out wider so that there is no chance of one stage bleeding into another. Which is awesome, if you’re a band, but bank on walking an extra mile and a half over the course of the day.

Foxy Shazam, Sony Bloggie Stage
Got there late thanks to the relocation of the media area (Roosevelt, really?), but their final song was a beast. Lead singer Eric Sean Nally leapfrogged onto the guitarist’s shoulders, then kicked his guitar as he was trying to solo. The keyboardist stood on top of his keyboard, stomping on the keys. It was bedlam. It was awesome. Definitely see these guys if they come near you.

First cover song of the day: B.o.B., covering MGMT’s “Kids.”

Ancient Astronauts, Perry’s
These guys got stuck in a reggae groove and couldn’t get out, but there was a neat mash-up of “Blitzkrieg Bop” thrown in, which was cool.

Playstation edit

“That’s right, I paid $200 to spend the weekend inside on a Playstation. So?”

Raphael Saadiq, Parkways Soundstage
I’m still not sure how he wound up on the bill but I’m not complaining, as his album The Way I See It was one of my favorite albums of 2008. His set was refreshing, the band decked out in suits while Saadiq dished out his vintage Motown jams. Then right in the middle, he completely threw down this gargantuan guitar track. Very odd, but the kids loved it.

The Big Pink, adidas Stage
So…much…droning…must…play…this…one…note…forever…

On the plus side, they ended their set 15 minutes early. Whew.

Devo, Parkways Soundstage
Hats off to the boys from Akron, as their afternoon set killed. They mixed in a few songs from their (damn good) new album Something for Everybody, played “Whip It” surprisingly early in the set, then went on a fans-only trip from there that had this old-school Devo fan flipping out. “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA”? Hell, yes.

F**k Buttons, Sony Bloggie Stage
Went to catch up with my buddy Tim at this set, but he was already bored and moving on before I got there.

Second cover song of the day: Matt & Kim doing Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.”

Kim of Matt & Kim also had the quote of the day, when she talked of wanting the people working the Jumbotron to do a close-up of her tits.

Neon Trees, BMI stage
These guys sounded pretty good, and the singer said he saw some kids sneak over the fence. It was amazing to watch everyone bail on their set after they played “Animal,” though. Same thing happened during Devo’s set after “Whip It.”

Hot Chip, Parkways Soundstage
There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with Hoy Chip’s set, but I had been on my feet for six hours at that point, and I needed to rest. Went to lie down on the hillside, and fell asleep. Damn, that felt good.

Meanwhile, the crowd gathering for Lady Gaga is without question the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen, at Lolla or anywhere else. all of Grant Park is a sea of bodies. And there’s still one more band to go before she takes the stage.

Ass Pear edit

Lady Gaga wannabe ass pear.

Chromeo, adidas Stage
These band of funk poppers are about to jump to the next level. The new material was good, and they know how to entertain a crowd. They even fooled around with Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing,” with one of them singing in Auto-Tune, “I want my Chromeo.” Nice

Lady Gaga, Parkways Soundstage
Say this for the girl – she puts on an elaborate show. There was a car on the stage with a keyboard built into it, and one of her backing singers looked like Grace Jones. The problem is that there were a lot of young kids there to see her, and Ms. Gaga spent a bunch of the time swearing like a sailor. It grew tiresome. And at any rate, there was someone else we wanted to check out.

2ManyDJs, Perry’s
The brothers in Soulwax – speaking of which, any time you guys want to make another Soulwax album is all right with me – closed the DJ tent with a fun set that featured the Chemical Brothers, 808 State, Guns ‘n Roses, the KLF, Stardust (a.k.a. Daft Punk), the Clash, the Gossip and even Pink Floyd in a medley of songs about money. The graphics that they had synced up with the set were awesome too, taking the album covers of the songs they’re spinning and bringing them to life. Best of all was the shot of Nicolas Cage and what I’m pretty sure was Macaulay Culkin. Fun times.

Big, big opening day. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Saturday isn’t quite as hectic. Looking forward to seeing Green Day tear the place down. They’re booked for two hours and 15 minutes, which is the longest set we’ve seen at Lolla yet. I’m pretty sure they’ll make it count. For now, though, it’s time for bed.

  

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