Lollapalooza 2010, The Final Recap: The Headliners, some final thoughts

This year’s batch of headliners is one of the strangest groups yet. Sunday was closed by another recently reunited monster of ’90s rock (witness Lolla organizer Perry Farrell giving his band Jane’s Addiction the final slot last year), Saturday night’s lineup featured arguably the biggest band in the world, while Friday’s opener – who easily drew the biggest crowd in Lolla history – is a million-selling pop star who first dazzled one of our writers on a Lolla side stage three years ago. Is it the most “alternative” group of closers they could have assembled? Probably not, but it’s very telling in a state-of-the-biz kind of way. We’ll leave it up to you as to whether that is a good or bad thing.

Let’s begin with the, um, enders, for lack of a better (or actual) word, in our week-long recap of the events at Lollapalooza 2010.

Chromeo, Friday, adidas Stage
Chromeo is officially ready for their close-up. They made lots of friends with this show, even if most of the audience was facing south in anticipation of Lady Gaga. Their riff on “Money for Nothing” was fun (they know their audience, that’s for sure), and even better was when they used Auto-Tune to sing, Sting-style, “I want my Chromeo.” Their new single “Don’t Turn the Lights Off” is a killer, and their other new songs sounded just as good.

Lady Gaga, Friday, Parkways Foundation Stage
Watching the crowd gather for Lady Gaga was an event unto itself. Her fans – and make no mistake, there isn’t anyone in all of music with a fan base as rabidly devoted as hers, ironic or otherwise – arrived early and parked in front of the Parkways stage all day long. Girls in fishnets, guys in drag, and more kids than we’ve ever seen at Lolla. Before Chromeo had even taken the stage at the northern end of the southern stages, there was already a bigger crowd waiting for Gaga than the one Depeche Mode played to last year. And Depeche played to a big crowd. But Gaga…this was borderline ridiculous. Some may have questioned Perry’s decision to bring Gaga back, since she’s now a full-fledged pop star, but he and the rest of the Lolla organizers were clearly laughing all the way to the bank.

Photo by Dave Mead

As for the set, well, we lasted 20 minutes.

Read the rest after the jump...

Lollapalooza 2010 recap: Sunday Sunday here again, a walk in the park…

…or not, as the case may be. If today were an entry into Rotoworld’s player news, it would read like this:

1:00 CST: Bullz-Eye placed SE David Medsker on the 15-day Disabled List with a myriad of ailments and unfortunate timing.

Allow me to explain. And I can use a mathematical formula to do it.

Waking up a little sick and a lot sore + torrential winds + spitting rain + a miserable forecast from that called for more rain and 90-degree heat + a lackluster lineup (sorry, Lolla organizers, but while there were a few bands that interested me, none of them were of the must-see variety) + the fact that it’s my birthday = playing hooky for all intents and purposes, even though I did next to nothing, really. I’ve thought that three days was one day too many from the very moment they turned this into a three-day affair in 2006, and this year’s schedule did not help dissuade me, considering how grossly front-loaded it was.

But fear not, dear reader: we had another guy on site (on assignment for another site) who did some leg work for his ever-grateful editor. So here are James Eldred’s comments on the day’s events. And for the record, while I feel a tad guilty about actually taking some ‘me’ time and celebrating my birthday with my best friend rather than trekking down to Grant Park to see a bunch of bands I really had no interest in seeing in the first place, I can tell you with complete confidence that I’ll remember the day Tim and I spent in our old haunt a lot longer than I would have remembered any of those bands. What a drag it is getting old, indeed. Is this my last Lolla? Ah, I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet, though I will admit that I had more fun using a pair of pliers to pull broken plastic dart tips out of the dart board at Sedgwick’s than I did listening to Hot Chip on Friday. It’s all about where you are in life and what you want or expect from it, I guess.

HEALTH, adidas stage
Raining like a mother outside, but this dance/noise rock group from Los Angeles nearly blew away the bad weather with pure noise. An amazing way to start the day.

Nneka, Parkways Soundstage
This Nigerian/German singer with an amazing Afro got the worst of the morning showers. Great voice, but too quiet for a festival.

X Japan, Parkways Soundstage
X Japan was full of psychotic Japanese fans and very confused Americans. The band was over-the-top crazy and louder than fuck.

Wolfmother, Parkways Soundstage
Nothing unexpected from the classic-rock revivalists, but the crowd went apeshit for them.

Soundgarden, Parkways Soundstage
To quote Subpop founder Bruce Pavitt, Soundgarden sounded like Total Fucking Godhead. A bit rusty around the edges still, but it was two hours of grunge-rock heaven nonetheless.

Some other notes we culled from other people:
– Erykah Badu’s set was very nice
– The National were all right
– Arcade Fire were all right, too

Yes, I know those comments are none more vague, but they were from the couple at the table next to me at dinner, and the girl looked like she was severely sunburned. I didn’t want to push it. I was just happy to get an opinion from her before she burst into flames.

There will be a more in-depth Lolla recap in a few days – where we go on and on and on about how fucking AWESOME Devo’s set was – but it’s time to pack up the suitcase and head home. Good night, Chicago.


Cornell’s Post-Grunge Woes

Chris Cornell's

As the former front man to 90’s rock icons Audioslave and Soundgarden Chris Cornell played sold-out shows to adoring fans, and celebrated top 10 records. Now more than two years after the split of Audioslave, Cornell’s solo project, Scream—a collaboration with world-renowned beat-maker, Timbaland—has been mixed, mastered, pressed, and distributed to every physical and virtual outlet that can still move product.  With one of the hottest producers, hordes of adoring fans waiting in the wings, and more than five studio albums under his belt what could go wrong you ask. Unfortunately for Cornell, the answer is everything.

From the first synthesized horn and layered guitar of the records opener, whatever message was intended is immediately lost. Cornell’s dynamic voice is buried in cumbersome beats, and inorganic elements that just don’t quite make sense for the grunge master. said Scream, “feels like it belongs in a time capsule, a strange mutation that could only have been born this decade.” The general consensus is that this record comes across like a bad Michael McDonald special featuring nothing but Justin Timberlake covers.

It seems as though, for such a well-known rocker, the switch from grunge to synth could only come with criticism. While Timbaland calls Scream, “the best work I’ve done in my career,” Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor publicly bashed Scream on his Twitter account saying, “You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell’s record? Jesus.” Cornell has yet to respond to the attack via tweet, probably because he’s so busy fielding a heap of negative press.

The L.A. Times also gave Scream an abysmal review that read, “Scream, is a fascinating but heartbreaking document of how many wrong decisions one can make in writing and performing a record.” They may be right, but that’s not exactly the kind of press you’re looking for as an artist.

Luckily, there may be light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. While most people would agree that the collaboration between Cornell and Timbaland doesn’t correctly translate to listeners, the musical meat of the record isn’t all that bad. There are some standout moments where an unexpected beat drops, or a clever turnaround sneaks its way in through the mirage of brassy guitars. Will Harris at wrote, “There are some phenomenal choruses [on the record], including “Never Far Away” and “Enemy,” both of which would readily fill most dance floors with little remixing required.” It also helps to know that Cornell is completely behind this new project. In a review on Cornell said, “Maybe I’m an optimist or just an idiot but I really think the fans will come around to the concept.” In all reality the fans that have stuck with Cornell throughout his musical transformation will, more than likely support this record. Hardcore Cornell fans probably had it pre-ordered months before the release date, without ever hearing a note, and who knows, there might even be a few Timbaland followers just waiting to add this record to their library.

It’s hardly ever well received when an icon goes schizo and completely changes their musical profile. It didn’t work when Garth Brooks channeled Chris Gaines, and in the same respects Chris Cornell is going to have a hard time converting his grunge-hungry fans to Timbaland-heavy beats. The moral of the story here: stick to what you know. Change scares a lot of people, and a change as drastic as the one brought about by Scream is certainly no exception. Better luck next time Chris.