Lollapalooza 2009 Saturday recap: Here comes the sun. Stupid sun.

It’s official: the weather gods are fucking with us.

After yesterday’s cool temperatures and nonstop autumn rain, it only makes sense that today would be not just sunny but insufferably hot and humid, with a plague of horseflies thrown in for good measure. And by all accounts, it’s going to worse tomorrow. Hotter, and with next to no cloud cover. And of course, that’s the day the Kaiser Chiefs are playing. Anyone who saw them in 2005 will remember that Ricky Wilson lost his voice and threw up from heat exhaustion at that show. And this time, he’ll be in direct sunlight (and nursing a broken rib). Rut-roh.

Band of Skulls, BMI stage
Medsker: I’d say that this English blues rock trio (think White Stripes with less fuzz and more groove) drew the short straw today and had to open the show, but Lolla has a tendency to put the buzz bands up first to lure people in early. Smart play, because the Skulls drew a pretty big crowd for the BMI stage, and sounded damn good for a band that was clearly not used to playing at 11:15 in the morning. Selfishly, I was glad to see them play their radio hit “I Know What I Like” early in the set, because the flies were eating me alive. Besides, a Beatle offspring was warming up on the south side.

thenewno2, Citi stage
Medsker: Say this for Dhani Harrison, the son of George and leader of thenewno2: he has no interest in sounding like a Beatle. Instead, his merry mates attack their guitars and keyboards like Radiohead after a case of Red Bull. They’re clearly loving the music that they make, and it made me fell guilty that I didn’t share their enthusiasm. I did talk to Dhani in the media area, though, and he couldn’t have been nicer. I mentioned Liam Lynch (creator of “Sifl & Oly” and all around genius nut case), and he told me that Liam hasn’t left his house in over a year. Methinks an intervention is in the cards.

The media area was actually swarmed with rock stars today, and unlike my usual timid self, I actually worked up the nerve to chat with a few of them. James from Glasvegas was very nice, and their drummer has the coolest purse ever: it has the cover of Blondie’s Parallel Lines on it.

Miike Snow, Vitaminwater stage
Eldred: Further lending credence to my theory that the Swedes are taking over the world via catchy pop music, Miike Snow lit up the sun-cooked audience with their unique brand of upbeat dance-friendly rock. Donning freaky white masks for their first two numbers, the members of the group also wore matching black outfits, and the combo made them look like a gang straight out of the classic film “The Warriors.” Accompanying the wacky outfits were some amazing jam-heavy renditions of “Animal,” “Burial” and “In Search Of.” Awesome stuff that made me forget about my baking body for a bit.

Atmosphere, Chicago 2016 stage
Eldred: Look, I wanted to like them, I really did. But it was pushing 100 degrees at this point, there was no shade to be found and most of the people around me were Tool fans already camping out prime real estate for their performance some six hours later. And the Tool fans, well, lets just say they live up to their favorite band’s name. I took off for the shade of the media area and gawked at Coheed And Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez and his permtastic hair.

Perry Farrell, Perry’s DJ stage
Medsker: Leave it to the show’s founding father to break his own rule about punctuality. Dude was 15 minutes late getting to the stage, not that the people there minded. This was my first trip to Perry’s stage in all the years that I’ve been coming to Lolla, and I wished I had done it sooner. It was nice to hear recorded music for a change, especially when the DJ on before Perry was playing Rage Against the Machine, meaning just because people were DJing doesn’t mean that area was strictly a Euro house wankfest. I didn’t know either of the songs I heard Perry sing, but I just loved watching him grooving to beat music. His wife was there backing him up, and if you’ve never seen a picture of Perry Farrell’s wife, you owe it to yourself to look her up. Now.

Arctic Monkeys, Budweiser stage
Medsker: I actually felt bad for the Arctic Monkeys and Glasvegas. The pale European bands had to play at the peak of the day, and they were both directly in the sun. That had to have sucked, not that the Monkeys showed any signs of exhaustion. They went out and did their typically Monkey-like angular rock thing, and they had what looked like a football stadium’s worth of people watching them do it. Unfortunately, I could not stay to see if they played “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” (I’m assuming they did) because it was my birthday, my wife and daughter are in town, and we have dinner plans with old friends. But fear not: Mr. Eldred stayed for the whole day, and from what he told me via text, things got much, much better from here.

Santigold, Playstation stage
Eldred: Hell yeah, they did. Santigold may have came out 10 minutes late, but no one cared once she tore into high-energy renditions of “Creator,” “L.E.S. Artistes” and “Unstoppable.” Backed with her own brand of hardcore Solid Gold dancers, Santigold rocked, plain and simple. Her rendition of the Cure’s “Killing An Arab” made the older fans go nuts, leaving the younger crowd slightly confused, if still entertained. I say screw the kids, all artists should perform covers of obscure ’80s songs to teach the little bastards some art.

Diplo, Perry’s stage
Eldred: Guitar players may get all the chicks, but DJs get all the chicks who are on Ecstasy. Perry’s stage was crawling with barely-dressed young women screaming like crazy the second Diplo took control of the turntables. Decked out in a three-piece suit and looking suave as hell, he showed how a DJ can dominate a “rock” concert even when focusing on obscure dance and house tracks for most of the first half of his set, which is all I stuck around for because I wanted a prime spot for Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Budweiser stage
Eldred: I was hoping that Tool would draw the majority of the fans, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ performance would be of the intimate variety. Unfortunately it looked like I wasn’t the only person sick of all the Tool fans, because the place was packed tight. I was nearly killed twice (once by overcrowding, and once by a low-flying crane camera) but it didn’t matter. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs absolutely destroyed the place. My underwear could have been lit on fire and I wouldn’t have noticed as they delivered both the fast-paced singles from their new dance album It’s Blitz! as well as post-punk rockers from Gold Lion and Fever to Tell. Karen O. is a goddess, decked out in a crazy Indian headdress and floating around like Stevie Nicks in her prime, rocking like Siouxsie Sioux and dancing like Terri Nunn. I want to marry her.

  

Lollapalooza 2009, Friday recap: would you like a little water torture with your rock?

It’s amazing what a slow, steady rainfall will do to, um, dampen one’s spirits. The Friday lineup for this year’s Lollapalooza was pretty damn good, but we felt decidedly less frisky once it meant walking or standing in a cold rain. Of course, the forecast for Saturday and Sunday calls for brutally hot temperatures and lots of sun. Ah, Chicago. My favorite city, but the weather really is awful.

Yuto Miyazawa, Kidzapalooza stage
Medsker: How about this for our first band of the day: a nine-year-old Japanese kid who can absolutely shred on guitar. He can’t sing, of course, but no one really minded. He loves Ozzy, and played three Ozzy/Sabbath tunes in his set, as well as a Deep Purple song. Very cool. It’s funny how many Sabbath covers I’ve heard a Lolla over the years. The best is still the Dresden Dolls’ sick cover of “War Pigs.” They own that song now.

Manchester Orchestra, Budweiser stage
Medsker: Perhaps I’m showing my age when we say this, but…oh, there’s just no nice way to say this: I think these guys suck. Their first song didn’t have any discernible hook, and then the singer did that goddamn screamo thing. And their drummer…you know how drummers overact when shooting a music video, with the arms flying up and down to even the simplest or slowest beat? This band’s drummer actually plays like that. I lasted roughly two minutes, and I had had enough.

Gringo Star, BMI stage
Medsker: This unassuming Georgia band helped get the taste of Manchester Orchestra out of my mouth, but the rain was making my antsy. I left after about four songs to head south.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Vitamin Water stage
Medsker: I was thrilled that Black Joe Lewis was invited to perform at Lolla, but their inclusion also amuses me. They’re more of a Summerfest or Jazzfest band than a Lolla band, but then again, inviting a James Brown-style rock and soul group to Lollapalooza is pretty alternative, now that I think about it. I bet these guys would blow the doors off of a small club. They sounded fine here, but again, the rain was getting to me. Plus, it was lunch time.

Before Black Joe Lewis started, I listened to Hey Champ a keys-drums combo from Rockford, and they were pretty damn good. Definitely looking into them when I get home.

The Knux, Citi stage
Eldred: This New Orleans-based alt-hip-hop group may have been saddled with a side stage appearance, but they could have dominated the biggest stage in Grant Park with their swagger and cocky attitude. They had the tunes to match and ended their high energy set by turning the stage into a dance party, complete with their DJ spinning MGMT’s “Electric Feel” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around.”

White Lies, Budweiser stage
Eldred: It’s pouring down rain and I’ve never heard these guys before, but in every photo I’ve seen of them, their pale asses looked ridiculous, so I had to make time to see them, if only for novelty’s sake. After trekking across the park in the rain and getting colder and wetter, I realize that this is a hell of a commitment for a joke. However, once the pale London boys took the stage, I was shocked that they weren’t that bad. Actually, they were pretty damn good. However, I’m cold and wet so I head back to the hotel after just a couple songs for a drying pit stop.

Amazing Baby, Citi stage
Medsker: I’m very fond of this glam band’s debut album, and they sounded really good live, but enough was enough. I was drenched. I headed back to Eldred’s hotel room (he got a room at the Hilton on Michigan, lucky bastard) to dry off. His friend Lisa gave me a poncho. What a difference that made.

Ben Folds, Budweiser stage
Medsker: Ah, it’s good to see Ben with a band again. The last time I saw Folds live was that piano tour with Rufus Wainwright, which was cute but a far cry from Ben Folds Five’s live shows. His new band is damn good (especially the drummer), and Folds gave the soaking wet audience a good mix of songs from his whole career (though he didn’t play anything from BF5’s first album). The cover of “Bitches Ain’t Shit” got the crowd moving, and then he stunned me by pulling out “Narcolepsy.” Well chosen set, even if he skipped the first album. Even better, I almost literally ran into Folds in the media area during Black Joe Lewis’ set. Very cool.

Crystal Castles, Vitamin Water stage
Eldred: Refreshed, dry and now safely covered in a poncho, I return just in time to see a special breed of insanity by the name of Alice Glass. The lead singer of the electronic duo ran out on stage with a bottle of vodka and tore it up, even when her microphone fell apart. She got a working model just in time to run into the audience and nearly pick a fight with someone in the crowd. Things are reconciled when she pours vodka into the first three rows. Amazing show, but that bitch is crazy.

Of Montreal, Vitamin Water stage
Eldred: Speaking of crazy: capes, men dressed as tigers, gas masks, gender-confused back-up dancers, Of Montreal took crazy to a whole new level, living up to their reputation as one of the most entraining live bands on Earth. It was glamtastic brilliance, so needles to say the cover of Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” was not at all unexpected. Strange but awesome, however I had to take off early to get a choice spot for Depeche Mode.

Depeche Mode, Chicago 2016 Stage
Eldred: I’ve been waiting to see Depeche Mode for over 10 years. They lived up too all of my unrealistic expectations by blowing the crowd away with choice cuts from the new album, including the single “Wrong” to lesser-known older tunes like “In Your Room” and “Policy of Truth.” (Editor’s note: “Policy of Truth” is lesser known?) Gahan and co. are firing on all cylinders and by the time they get to the epic finale of “Enjoy The Silence” and “Never Let Me Down Again,” I’ve lost my damn mind (along with most of the audience). The encore of “Personal Jesus” is expected, but still welcome. The bar has been set high for the rest of the festival’s closers.

Medsker: They played three songs from Black Celebration. Hell, yes.

On deck for Saturday: Band of Skulls, Beatles offspring, Arctic Monkeys, Miike Snow, and Eldred is faced with a choice: Santigold, or Glasvegas?

  

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