Friday, May 20, 2011

Lollapalooza: Day 2

By Jon Stone | @jwstone - August 9, 2010

Day two at Lolla and I’m starting to feel it. Here’s a quick update:

I spent the morning wandering a bit. I caught a few songs each from Rogue Wave, Harlem, and Dragonette. Rogue Wave had a different vibe than I remember when I was listening to them three or four years ago– I dug it. Harlem, eh, not so much and Dragonette was cool enough if you're into the electronica and dig a good female vocalist.

Stars: I was a big fan of Set Yourself on Fire, and spent a good amount of time with In Our Bedroom After the War as well. But Stars kind of left me scratching my head with their Saturday afternoon performance. It started when Amy Millan kept yelling "It's all up to you, Lollapalooza!" The girl in front of me turned to her friend and said what I was thinking: "What's up to us?" So, that was kinda weird. The band sounded fine and played several songs from their both of the previously mentioned releases as well as their new record The Five Ghosts. There were roses tossed into the audience and confetti bombs, and lots of love given to the crowd. But here's the other thing that strikes me as funny about Stars, and maybe it's not that big of a deal. Torquil Campbell, the other co-leader of the band was born in England, raised in Canada, and speaks with a North American accent, which is to say, without an accent. But  he sings with an English accent. Weird? Maybe not, but it just strikes me as strange -- especially when he's jabbering on stage about stuff and then starts singing like he's Martin Gore or something. As I write this, it seems petty. Jamie Lidell, an Englishman, sings with an American accent, so whatever.

Warpaint: I showed up for Dawes early and caught the tail end of Warpaint. I really liked what I heard. Warpaint is a  four-piece, all-female group from L.A. with dark melodies, haunting harmonies, and heavy guitars. The drumming reminded me a bit of early Cure stuff and I wished I would have gotten there a bit earlier. My interest is piqued.

Dawes: If Stars had me questioning authenticity a bit, Dawes brought be back firmly on the ground. I've said a lot on this blog about my love for this band, so I will spare you more of that gushing. I will say that Dawes plays with more heart than any band I've seen this weekend (gush). They played nearly every song off of their album North Hills and all of the new songs they recorded at their recent stop in Rock Island with Daytrotter. It was fun to watch the crowd gather backstage to watch and sing along with Dawes' set -- members of Ed Sharpe's crew, Deer Tick, friends and girlfriends -- all who likely see the band play really often. That they were still singing and dancing tells me something about this band.  Something very good. Dawes was my favorite of the day, but I knew they would be.

Grizzly Bear: From there it was over to the main south stage where Grizzly Bear had already begun their set. I settled in just in time to hear "Fine For Now" and "Two Weeks." They sounded great -- no surprise there. Out of complete random chance, I ran into Erik Ljung who shoots video frequently featured on MoB. That was fun. Grizzly Bear seem unable to do wrong, and their set was flawless. It was fun to finally see them.

Deer Tick: While they lack the charm of their pals Dawes, Deer Tick certainly isn't lacking for flavor. Lead-singer John McCauley took the stage in a matching shirt and shorts set that must have been purchased from the department store across the street from a retirement community. Throw in his straw hat and all-black strat and you've got yourself a cocktail that works as a pretty decent metaphor for the band. Cocksure and zany, Deer Tick won me over pretty quickly. One quick highlight: late in the set, Taylor from Dawes joined McCauley on stage and the two played "Daydreaming" a song by the two's other group, MG&V -- a collaboration between McCauley, Taylor and Griffin from Dawes, and Matt Vasquez from Delta Spirit (you can see the reason for the name if you look at those names carefully).

Spoon: I love Spoon. They were probably the band I was looking forward to most this weekend. When Britt Daniel took the stage dressed all in white, he looked smaller than I imagined him and played an acoustic "Me and the Bean," followed by "Nobody Gets me But You" from this year's Transference where things got big really quickly. The band ripped through an 18-song set with songs spanning most of the band's records and including "The Underdog" (with a great 4+ piece horn section), "Don't you Evah," "Written in Reverse" (probably my favorite of the set), and "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb." Also, they played a cooler-than-Wolf-Parade cover of Wolf Parade's "Modern World." It was great to see them -- they tired me out.

Phoenix: Seriously, though. After Spoon I started getting that I-must-have-been-hit-by-a-truck feeling. I hope you don't think less of me if I tell you that I've written most of this review with the balcony door of my buddy's apartment propped open, listening to Phoenix's set as it comes pouring across Michigan Ave. I'm pretty worn out, and will be headed out again in just a few minutes to catch the Antlers/National show at the House of Blues (which I will also be reviewing). I needed a breather, so forgive me if you are a fan and were hoping for a more detailed review. Here's what I know: They are from France. They sound great. I'm sure they looked fantastic as well (they are from France!), but I've been enjoying their set in relative peace while sitting on a couch. I feel like a wuss admitting that but it is what it is (Now I can hear Green Day's "American Idiot" wafting in... I saw about 100 kids wearing Green Day shirts today. Hope they had fun.)


Sunday will offer up one more day of Lolla goodness. I'll know I'll be at Mumford and Sons, the rest is kind of up in the air. See you back out in the sun!

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