What you missed at Lollapalooza 2011: Coldplay, Eminem, Foo Fighters
Bests and worsts, plus photos: Cee Lo, MMJ, A Perfect Circle, Nas
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Lollapalooza 2011 ran over this past weekend, starting Friday (Aug. 7) through Sunday (Aug. 9), taking over Chicago’s Grant Park. The previously roving festival celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Coldplay paid tribute to Amy Winehouse, and gave some new songs their U.S. debut. Read a full recap here.
Muse also played, about which Time Out wrote: “But tonight, as serious and ominously political as a Muse album can be, the band (technically presented as a trio, but featuring a shadowy keyboardist throughout most of the set tonight) also had a way of injecting a looseness in their hour and half plus encore set.” Read more.
Eminem brought out a small parade of guests, including Bruno Mars, Skylar Grey and Royce da 5’9”. Read a full recap here.
My Morning Jacket took to the other end of the field, with a crowd Paste called “unjustly small. Those who did opt to see Jim James and company over Eminem, however, were rewarded with a strong set by a band whose live act only seems to be getting better.” Read more here.
The Foo Fighters battled the rain for an epic two-hour soaked set, with fest organizer Perry Farrell taking a bow. Read a full recap here.
Deadmau5 put on a very different show, albeit still high-octane. The Chicago Tribune even said the DJ started 20 minutes early. More here.
Check out Day One photos of Coldplay, A Perfect Circle, Tinie Tempah, Foster the People, Reptar, White Lies and OK Go.
Check out Day Two photos of My Morning Jacket, Skylar Grey, Cee Lo Green, Fitz & the Tantrums, Mayer Hawthorne, Death From Above 1979, Deftones, Local Natives and Atmosphere.
Check out Day Three photos of Noah and the Whale, Explosions in the Sky, Arctic Monkeys, The Cars, City and Colour, Portugal. The Man, little hurricane, Cold War Kids and Nas.
Perry Farrell announced that not only was Lollapalooza returning to Chile in 2012, Brazil will be getting its own version of the festival in April as well.
Interviews to come include Bright Eyes, Deftones, Maps & Atlases, OK Go and more.
Best in show: Death From Above 1979 made a wreck out of SXSW earlier this year during its reunion go-round, but at Lolla, the band had the whole North end of Grant Park to wile away. The duo frequently played off of tracked samplers, but easily filled in the gaps with crunchy, grungy bass and Sebastien Grainger’s inhuman yowl, as he thudded and pounded each turn of phrase into a statement behind his monstrous drum kit.
“I think we scared the rain away,” he said, Saturday’s forecast tentative but obviously contingent on the decibels of rock.
I’d still nominate Grainger for “worst haircut/facial hair combination,” but there’s something so cheeky about the whole getup. He digressed at one point into an incredible take on AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” but seemed too self-deprecating to let out the full load on a song he obviously grew up with and perhaps even learned on. Behind them, a backdrop banner declaring the band dead, a tombstone touting “DFA1979, 2001-2006.” He even got the crowd feeling the self-consciousness.
“How many of you were at the Metro show on Thursday?” Cheering. “How many of you were at the Empty Bottle six years ago?” Laughter and cheering. “Do you guys know what the Empty Bottle is?”
Delta Spirit brought a lot of noise with them, too, affected wild-man Matthew Vasquez burning through choice cuts of latest “History from Below.” I can’t help a Kings of Leon comparison, with the volume and the pacing of their modern rock, but Delta Spirit also heralds Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Seger and even Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and they were capable carriers of such torches. “Just Tear It Up” was especially solid.
Business casual: I can name almost a dozen bands that were rocking the buttoned-up button-down look, with stripy shirts and semi-formal wear mocking the heat, the graphic tees and the casual jackets (we’re looking at you, Coldplay). Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, Foster the People, White Lies and even the man himself Perry Farrell were all prone to such a look.
Adorable dandies Noah and the Whale blew them all away with pocket squares, vests, double-breasted jackets and various accoutrement on each member. The show itself was fine, a little lengthy; promoters were wise to schedule them at the opposite end of the festival and more than an hour before the Cars – there’d be, well, a car-wreck of confluence.
But best dressed goes to Cee Lo Green, who has exhibited little to no interest in traditional strage duds. Evidence being that he rolled on in head to toe “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” gear, his all-girl backing band wearing similarly themed spikes, rivets bullets and leather bondage except, y’know, less of it. The setlist hit all the bases, including the original version of“F*ck You,” but Green had to work way to hard to get the chatty afternoon crowd on his side. The band plucked at many covers including – but not limited to – “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”, “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Personal Jesus” and a half-assed, half-abandoned “Don’t Stop Believin’” to shine it off.
In theme with their album “It’s a Corporate World,” the 8+ performing members of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. rocked tees baring the words “Your Ad Here.” A few weeks ago, an associate of the band asked if my interest in them had anything to do with their (awful) name; it did not, I simply had never seen them live. And now I have, and enjoyed. Their performance of “Skeleton” was simply outstanding.
No Cars Go: There might as well have been cardboard cutouts of Ric Ocasek and the bunch. After a 28-year wait for new music and a return live, The Cars had a way to go; the frontman occasionally smiled, but beside that gesture, the band made no effort to connect to the crowd, and while their big hits like opener “Let the Good Times Roll,” “Just What I Needed” and “My Best Friend’s Girl” should have enough gas to roll through, there were general gaffes that dampened this reunion. David Robinson failed to land many, many snare hits on his electric drum kit, keyboardist Greg Hawkes overstepped his bounds as a backing singer and the mix was overall wonky.
I know age is a handicap in the industry, but when performance pros like Fitz & the Tantrums took the same stage a day earlier with such warm, adept navigation of crowd and musicianship, it left a lot to be desired of the Cars.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Foster the People may have a hit on their hands, and a seemingly built-in audience from bands like the Postelles and Vampire Weekend, but live they’re simply not ready for primetime. Singer Mark Foster wavered uncomfortably on his high notes, his falsetto failing to carry and making for a wobbly coherence in the set.
He should get advice from Portugal. The Man, whose frontman is willing to take those necessary risks, to make their brand of psych-pop soar.
Rain or Shine: Aside from the sheets of rain that slapped me in the face last night, the weather over the weekend held up beautifully; it was cooler than the four years previous I had attended, the sun shone on and off and overnight rains made for mild mornings.
There can’t be mistakes in weather, because weather cannot be controlled. A major music festival lineup can be controlled, which leaves little excuse for some notable missteps.
Returning Lolla spinner Dani Deahl was questionably scheduled to spin right before Friday’s headliner Coldplay. As her set kicked off, on time, there was literally only a single row of people pressed to the barricades at the Playstation stage, and otherwise it looked like an empty parking lot with fleeting few bodies strewn on a blankets and mats. Not to relegate dance music only to the dance tent, but her jams would have been better suited for Perry’s tent, and OK Go switched in. They at least have the hometown draw.
I’m a big fan of hip-hop troupe Atmosphere, and Minneapolis-bred rapper Slug has the regional factor too. It was his room for about 30 rows back. But in anticipation for Eminem, I thought there could be a more suitable warm-up. Nas and Damian Marley Jr. would have been too big to open the evening, but maybe somebody who, y’know, isn’t another white rapper from the Northern Midwest whose recent material, while good, is a turn for the emo? With a party caliber? I know Tinie Tempah was around.
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