Jane's Addiction set at Lollapalooza on Sunday (Aug. 9) had the unintentional theme of "battle."
First, there was a literal battle of the bands. Band Of Horses went over their set time by ten minutes (blame Lou Reed), so Jane's Addiction went ahead with schedule. A helicopter whizzed overhead with a spotlight aimed at Stage Jane and the bass began to buzz, but Band Of Horses had already started another song. And then another. BOH's Ben Bridwell was apparently having the show of his life and wasn't ready to let it go. So the two stages boomed at each other. Rock blocked.
And then there's the faceless battle that Perry Farrell has finessed for the honor of putting on Lollapalooza each year since 2005 in Chicago. "They told us twice we couldn't do it," Ferrell taunted, his voice a shaking fist at The Man. But here we are, with the second year this three day fest has sold-out entirely -- surprising, considering the lineup this year wasn't nearly as strong as 2008's (Kanye, Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine...).
And then there's the battle of relevancy. Jane's Addiction was at its height when it headlined Lollapalooza, the roving fest, around 1991, and a couple years after. The band has had its breakups, hold-ups and Ferrell's side-projects. Now 50, the frontman can rock skin-clinging gold lamé better than most frontmen 30 years his junior.
But there were no new songs, and the same raw, sexual rock 'n' roll imagery. Ferrell The Rock Star's banter was genuine, even on topic of "whores," getting naked, getting wasted, the ilk -- an uncomfortable brand up against Perry Ferrell, Business Man. "Been Caught Stealing" and "Nothing's Shocking" still sound great, but it's the context has changed -- or is suspended. The women in powdered wigs and bondage gear on sidestage seemed more a like a parody. Every "motherf*cker" uttered seems like it should be bursting with a fresh meaning.
Still, though, it was a welcome return for Jane's Addiction, and a surprising guest solidified its place in rock history: Aerosmith's Joe Perry leant a hand on second encore, and last song, "Jane Says."
Watching Brandon Flowers stalk every corner of the stage, all in black and clean-shaven, note-for-note nailing The Killers' most recognizable tracks like opener "Human" and "Mr. Brightside," I couldn't help but to think of Depeche Mode, who played the same field two nights earlier.
Especially with the this latest album "Day & Age," the Las Vegas quartet has broken its own radio-rock mold, folding into synth rock, a classification they share with Dave Gahan and his group. They're hit-makers of their own respective eras, and The Killers are eight years into what could be their own 30-year career.
I don't think "When You Were Young" will be a song for the ages, but of an age, much like Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence." It's a road marker for a lot of the young fans that lazily drank the last of their Budwisers and dragged their blankets up from the dirt, who will appreciate the song, years from now, for being part of their personal historical soundtrack.
The show itself had lots of light projection and even some showers of sparks that rained down behind the rest of the band, which statically stood still and played their instruments. Flowers weaved around them, with his body and with the little vignettes he'd tell to set up the songs. I'm glad I saw this show, though I feel the existential horror of opting to be either human or dancer.
There was a positive feeling as around 75,000 people shuffled out from Grant Park; Killers fans mushed in with Jane's Addiction fans on Michigan Avenue for the common cause of filing drunkenly onto the L train. What was heartening was spontaneous cheering that rose in waves from the Essex hotel to the river, dehydrated and happy roars of approval that rolled from end to end.
I'd rather listen to the sounds of chewing ice than spin a Dan Deacon track at home, but I'll be damned that the DJ/circus master put on one of the best shows all weekend. The Dan Deacon Ensemble consisted of more than a dozen band members, which pounded on multilple drum sets, blew into a multitude of brass instruments and tapped on lots of candy-colored keyboards, but it was the crowd that was Deacon's greatest asset. A conga line wrapped around the south end of the field at one point. Deacon's bus driver led a willing brood of thousands in a follow-the-leader interpretive dance. The first 30 rows endlessly pogoed when they weren't being told what to do. I don't know the names of any of the songs Deacon played, but I don't think it matters. What really, really matters is that somebody in his ensemble was dressed up like a dot.
When I asked frontman Brian Aubert earlier in the day if there was going to be anything special during Silversun Pickups' set that day, he said to look out for a huge mistake. He was being facetious, but he was also wrong.
Everbody knew Snoop Dogg's "motherf*ckin' name" by the end of his set, though they also heard iterations of Akon ("I Wanna F*ck You") and House of Pain ("Jump Around," which segued into "Drop It Like It's Hot"). "Gin & Juice" brought generations together thus: Snoop Dogg is an ambassador of good will.
Lou Reed doesn't care that you didn't recognize half his set. He also didn't mind defaulting too often to his lyrics monitors. He could've been playing to 10 people, he could have been playing to 40,000. Lou Reed doesn't care about your feelings. And I didn't care much for Lou Reed. He did manage "Sweet Jane," "Waiting for the Man," "Walk on the Wild Side" and others, but the phrase most uttered on the train ride home was, "Well, at least I can say I've seen Lou Reed."
I lost count after 35, the number of crowd surfers tumbling out of the crowd and into the loving arms of security guards at the gate feet away from Passion Pit. They were second loudest of the day, only to Gang Gang Dance, but they earned their keep of new fans. Hundreds of thousands of calories were burned in the square feet leading up to their stage.
Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend dedicated "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" to the late John Hughes. Somehow, this is the most sensical thing to have happened all weekend.
I have trouble distinguishing Dan Auerbach's solo material from his regular gig with the Black Keys, with exception to the fact that this solo set features a full band. It's all just sexy noises to me.