Friday, May 20, 2011
Lollapalooza: Day 3
By Jon Stone | @jwstone - August 31, 2010
Lollapalooza 2010 is in the bag. I’m a tired man, but had a blast. The festival is a strange musical animal—so much to do and see, it almost starts to feel like a banquet with way more great food than you could/should safely consume in one setting. Yet we munch on.
Sunday rounded out my Lolla experience nicely, with a couple of surprises, several music legend/celebrity sightings, and three performances so good that it seems almost criminal that they happened within several hours of each other.
Here’s my final recap and then I go into music festival remission . . . until September:
I rolled into the fest pretty late – not until around 2 pm – and missed my chance to see the Dodos again. I wasn’t super impressed by their set at Bonnaroo and hoped to give them a second go. I love their records. I heard Neko Case showed during their set making me all the more regretful. I was up most of the night before, though, so it just wasn’t in the cards. Next time, Dodos.
Band of Heathens: These guys play Champaign frequently and I’ve been meaning to check them out. I loved their set – more than the Truckers from Friday, actually, with whom they share a similar vibe. Great songwriting, amazing guitar work, tight vocal harmonies with lead responsibilities passed between songs. I won’t pass up another chance to support these guys when they come through town again. You shouldn’t either.
The Cribs: So Johnny Marr is currently playing with UK band The Cribs and I couldn’t pass up the chance to see him in the flesh. I’m a big Smiths fan, but haven’t really been into anything he’s done since (though the band name The The is about as cool as they come). I walked way over the (the) south end of the park and caught a few songs by the Cribs and watched Marr play a bit. Still not really a fan, but it was cool to see one of my guitar heroes. I know they’ve said they will never reunite, but can you imagine a Smiths reunion show at one of these festivals? Man oh man.
Mumford & Sons: Here’s a UK band worth getting excited about. Mumford & Sons started their set with this question: “Shall we have a dance together in the sun?” They played the hottest hour of the day to one of the most devoted crowds and we all sweat, clapped, danced, and sang along. They plowed through the best songs on this year’s Sigh No More, adding a hired Chicago horn section mid way through the set. There’s nothing like a band in the first year or so of its success: they seem so honest and so genuinely grateful for the audiences support and love. The road hasn’t left them jaded and weary quite yet. Marcus Mumford and his “sons” fit that space well. They play like they are at the beginning of something great, and in their case, they are.
Thenewno2/Perry Farrell: It’s Lollapalooza, so I thought it would be cool to see Mr. Lolla himself who was scheduled to make an appearance at the kids’ stage. I showed up on time, but the band scheduled before Farrell hadn’t yet taken the stage. Thenewno2… I recognized the name but couldn’t remember from where. They started playing, and again, the lead singer looked eerily familiar but it wasn’t until last night as I was laying in bed that I remembered who they were. Thenewno2 is Dhani Harrison’s band – as in George Harrison’s son Dhani. Wished I would have remembered when I was there.
Thenewno2 acted as Farrell’s backup band when he finally came out. His two song set was far and away the weirdest moment of the weekend. Recall that we are at the kids’ stage and there are several of them right up front. I don’t know what your real or imagined parenting philosophy is or will be, but the first song that Perry Farrell sang at the kids stage was his Porno For Pyro’s song “Pets” which happens to have two F-bombs in the first verse. Tacky. I’m not super anal about that kind of stuff, but I also don’t want it to be my kids who teach the bad words to the other kids on the playground. It was just plain bad form from a really weird dude. Oh, he also played the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane.” That seemed a tiny bit more appropriate.
Erykah Badu: Her blonde mo-hawk matched up nicely with the Lolla vibe, but her lateness to the stage was 20 minutes longer than most of us had patience for. I caught the first two songs from Badu and wished immediately that I could see her in a more conducive atmosphere. I guess that’s all I’ve got here.
The National: I’m waxing a bit long in this here update (trying to relive the glory, I suppose). But The National’s set is worth more words than I can here provide. In the last year, Matt Berninger and his band of brothers have risen to the top of my list of favorite bands. I am completely taken by them and their dark candor and humor. The show the night before at the House of Blues was the best I’d ever heard, and the set at Lolla was darn near that. The set was toploaded with tunes from High Violet all of which Richie Reed Parry from Arcade Fire joined them on. Also of note, Matt announced that this would be the last show the band would play with long-time contributor Padma Newsome who would be settling in San Francisco. “He’s saved our asses more times than we can count and we don’t know what we’re going to do without him.” We’ll all miss you too, Padma.
Arcade Fire: I thought going into the weekend that I was going to see Soundgarden, but had the opportunity to see them on Thursday night at the Vic (you can read my review of the show over at American Songwriter in all of its grammatically unsound glory). The Arcade Fire show was absolutely insane, and SO much better than the Vic show was (and it was really good, too), so I’m glad that conflict was resolved. Music writers often get guff for their excessive adjective use, so here’s a few for you to chew on: revelry, jubilation, abandon, and all other adjectives related to the pending hipster apocalypse. Arcade Fire remind me of the band you might come across if you lived in one of Shakespeare’s tragedies and happened to be out walking in the woods. They’d be the ones dancing around the fire in the woods, beating drums.
I haven’t seen the New York videocast yet, but I heard it was a bit lacking for good sound. This was not the case at Lolla. The band sounded incredible and played a mixture of songs from all three of their albums. Highlights included, of course, “Neighborhood #3” and “Crown of Love” which they dedicated to the National, but the Suburbs tunes might have been the best songs of the night. They opened with “Ready to Start” (what an opener!) and by the time they hit “Month of May” late in the set, things on stage and in the crowd had become complete and utter mayhem. Evidence of the celebratory chaos was all around me. I’m surprised the couple to my left could even breathe for all their making out and, well, I was having a hard time breathing myself through the cloud of smoke that hung over us. Revelry, I tell you.
Seeing Arcade Fire live rounds out the most amazing year of music I've ever had, largely due to my association with Ryan and Muzzle of Bees. Thanks again Ryan, and congratulations on your wedding!