Lollapalooza 2010 recap: Saturday night’s all right for rocking

The thing about Lolla is that it gets exponentially harder from day to day. Even with a good night’s sleep, today was, well, fucking impossible. The fact that the lineup was reeeeeeeeeally sparse compared to Friday’s lineup did not help. Damn it, why aren’t the Scissor Sisters here?

Before we hit the grounds, we hit one of our favorite Chicago restaurants: Heaven on Seven. Try the gumbo. The andouille sausage po’ boys are pretty damn good, too.

As we’re entering the grounds, there were some people who were interested in opening a friendly dialogue about religious philosophy and moral ambiguity in modern society. That, or they wanted to stone people to death on the spot, one of the two.

hell

Skybox, BMI stage
These kids are so cute I just want to pinch their little cheeks. They’re a bubblegum pop band from Chicago (think ’60s bubblegum, not the Jonas Brothers), and I love that they play the music they play; I just wished the songwriting was a touch stronger. But they’re young – they can grow into their songwriting shoes. That they’re starting out playing this kind of music, to me, is a sign of good things to come.

The Soft Pack, Budweiser stage
It’s harder and harder for guitar bands to stand apart these days, and these guys are unfortunately victim to that. There were some good tunes in their set, mind you, but they haven’t yet figured out how to separate themselves from the pack. I’m looking forward to the day when they find a way to do that.

Stars, Budweiser stage
There’s a joke here somewhere about how every Canadian musician under the age of 40 is in Broken Social Scene, but it’s just not coming to me at the moment. Everyone in Stars is also in BSS, and their new record The Five Ghosts is a pleasantly airy collection of mid-tempo, mildly electronic music, and surprise! So was their set at Lolla. That didn’t stop a bunch of people from dancing to them, though, and even I was bobbing my head to “We Don’t Want Your Body,” which is just begging to be released as a single.

Dan Black, BMI stage
For three guys with a couple guitars and a bank of machines, Dan Black made sure his show was as human as it could possibly be. And as luck would have it, I showed up one song before he played the “Umbrella”-sampling “Symphonies.” Can’t beat that with a stick.

Lunch break. Grabbed some fish tacos, sat next to a nice couple from New Orleans, who gave us a portable cell phone charger. Which came in handy…when the batteries in my camera died. Hey, I can recharge my phone at the hotel.

Listened to a little of the Royal Bangs after scouting their MySpace page. Not pleased. Moved on.

Metric, Playstation stage
I feel bad for the bands that play the Playstation stage, or the Petrillo band shell as it’s called every other day of the year. They get fabulous acoustics, but they’re on a downward slope, so anyone outside the cement pavillion will be all but unable to see them without peeking at the Jumbotron. Which sucks, because there are few things on this earth I love more than watching Emily Haines dance. I mean damn, is she the cutest thing on the planet or what? Look at the video for “Stadium Love” (easily the highlight of the set). Swoon. That girl owns me.

This pair of shoes and socks stood in front of me. Had to document it. You know, for when alien civilizations come to study us centuries from now.

shoes

Time to head down south and get a spot for Green Day, since they will surely draw another Gaga-esque crowd. But first, food. Chicken on a stick, with lo mein noodles. Yum.

Social Distortion, Parkways stage
Is there such thing as a bad set from these guys? And by that I mean, the margin of error on their sets is pretty damn small, isn’t it? Can one of their sets really be significantly better than another? What I’m saying is, it’s Social Distortion: you know exactly what to expect.

Slightly Stoopid, adidas stage
I’m not a fan of this band, but I felt bad for them. As my friend Tim and I found a spot to sit before Green Day’s set – and was shocked to see that there were a good five times as many people on the Grant Park softball fields for Lady Gaga this time last night as there were for Green Day – Slightly Stoopid had 15 minutes left to play when Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” started playing through Green Day’s speakers. Not at an obnoxious volume, but still loud enough that the band could hear it between songs. Then someone in a rabbit costume (I’m guessing it was Tre Cool) came out on stage acting drunk and silly. If I’m Slightly Stoopid, I’m pissed. That was bad form. If I’m Green Day, I expect to find my tour bus covered in feces, inside and out.

Green Day, Parkways stage
Say this for Green Day’s set: they put on one hell of a rock show. Not exactly a punk show, but a rock show (complete with classic rock medley including Sabbath, Van Halen, Guns ‘n Roses, and AC/DC), and aside from hustling the crowd in to waaaaaaaay too many sing-a-longs, thus stretching songs out a good two to three minutes longer than they needed to, they definitely brought the goods. American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown bookended the set, with pretty much every early-period Green Day song you can imagine in between (they even played “2,000 Light Years Away”), and they even deliberately went long by 15 minutes to make sure the crowd got their “Jesus of Suburbia.” Everyone who wasn’t wearing ear plugs for this show is surely regretting it thought, as the show was littered with fireworks. Loud, loud fireworks.

I texted someone I met over the fish tacos about how Phoenix was on the north side. “They owned,” he said, while Bullz-Eye’s James Eldred, on assignment with another publication since we only got one media pass this year (the economy, we guess), said Empire of the Sun’s set at Perry’s was awesome.

The crowd emptying out of Grant Park was so big that we didn’t even bother trying to get on the train and walked back to our hotel. Add another two miles to the day’s travels. Ow.

  

Empire of the Sun: Walking on a Dream

Ripping off ’80s artists can work, but you have to choose wisely. Go for Depeche Mode or New Order, leave Kajagoogoo alone. Empire of the Sun’s debut album Walking on a Dream has been out for a bit now, and It is frequently being compared to MGMT’s breakout debut Oracular Spectacular. The comparisons, however, aren’t justified. While MGMT is a psychedelic band with a synth-pop side, Empire of the Sun are firmly synth-pop and electro-pop to the hilt, with a sound ripped straight from 1984. Whether or not that’s a good thing can be debated. Sure, they work as a throwback retro act, and songs like the ultra-catchy title track and “Half Mast” are well-made simplistic pop-dance numbers, but once you dig past the obvious singles, there isn’t much to Walking on a Dream. The second-half of the album has some touches of experimentation, such as the “Delta Boy” with its Flaming Lips freak-out vibe, and “Country,” which has a strange easy listening feel, but its mostly just boring and kind of monotonous. By the time that the closer “Without You” comes up, the duo from Australia have more than worn out their welcome. Still, the highlights are great; hopefully they can craft something a bit more consistent next time. (EMI 2009)

Empire Of The Sun Myspace Page

  

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