CoS vs. Grant Park III: Round Two at Lollapalooza ’10

Lollapalooza 2010. You wake up. Every muscle in your body hurts, even the ones you didn’t know existed. The excitement of day one has all been replaced with a feeling of sheer exhaustion. “Ugh… two more days of this,” you think as you contemplate the best method of getting your legs working again. Your mind then quickly focuses on which bands can be skipped in favor of an extra hour of sleep.

But then you get up. A cool shower washes off all the stale sweat you chose not to get off the night before. Remember that part about sheer exhaustion? You dress, gingerly walk down the stairs of your apartment, and grab breakfast at your favorite local diner. After all, nothing says energy like a healthy dose of two cage-free eggs and toast.

Upon arriving at Grant Park, the first thing you notice are the religious zealots yelling about how you’re going to hell because you listen to Lady Gaga. As you chuckle in response, you realize the blistering sun of yesterday has been replaced by a healthy dose of clouds. Your exhaustion immediately turns to anticipation and you race into the park to begin your day.

Ten hours (and 15 minutes) later, you’re walking home, having just witnessed one of the great Lollapalooza performances to date. And to think, you — for at least a second — had considered skipping the day and watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model.

Every person goes through this emotional roller coaster and every person — like it or not — has this love/hate relationship with any and every festival. You love it because of stuff like what happened Saturday night (e.g., Green Day). You hate it because of the morning after exhaustion, and you even end up making some absurd promise about how this is the last time you’ll put yourself through such a grind or that next year you’re getting a cabana. Of course, that never ends up being true because, well, of stuff like what happened Saturday night at Lollapalooza.

So when you wake up tomorrow morning, remember why it’s all worth it…

Saturday, August 7th

Mimicking Birds
adidas MEGA, 11:30 a.m.

Photo by Cap Blackard

The very small (yet sincere) crowd gathered around the adidas MEGA stage seemed wrapped in a mellow cocoon with vocalist/guitarist Nate Lacy weaving it all around. The trio seemed a little nervous (which is surprising, considering their 2009 opening slot for Modest Mouse), yet their acoustic twinged songs still plucked at the heartstrings. The songs alternated between sunsets (“Burning Stars” with its repeated mantra of “All we are is burning stars”) and sunrises (the eruption of “The Loop”, with lines like “Soon now her star will swell, bloat up, turn bright red”). With so many lyrics dependent on the stars, Mimicking Birds set left their audience with heads gently swimming in the clouds. -Adam Kivel

The Morning Benders
Sony bloggie, 12:00 p.m.

“We recognize it’s the crack of dawn…Lollapalooza time,” said lead singer Chris Chu, shortly after The Morning Benders began their “early” set. Under overcast skies, the shoegaze pop (if there is such a thing) provided the sun for a while, and the harmonies provided the breeze. Highlights included the funky verse/sunny chorus of “Promises” and the short, upbeat “Cold War”, both off the band’s new record, Big Echo. The voices harmonized stunningly, and the instruments were played well, but there was something that didn’t quite ring true with the band. Perhaps it was the “too cool for school” attitude of Chu, who seemed to try too hard at times to look the part. By the time he dropped the sunglasses and let loose, the set was almost at an end. The talent is there, though, and hopefully The Morning Benders will be allotted a set longer than half an hour next year. – Justin Gerber

The Soft Pack
Budweiser, 12:30 p.m.

Photo by Heather Kaplan

By no means is half past 12 really all that early. But, when you’re a musician, on the second day of a music festival, and it’s a fucking Saturday, half past 12 is an axe to the eyes, a weight to the head, and a major, major bummer. Frontman and guitarist Matt Lamkin would agree, who looked as excited to be on the Budweiser stage as Mickey Rourke did for his prison mugshot. But that didn’t stop him from pummeling through an assortment of material off his group’s latest LP. Renditions of “C’mon” and “More or Less” seemed tired, but Lamkin finally found his swing after introducing the band in the most cheesy, obnoxious way (all in good fun) and jumping into “Parasite”. The rest came natural. They even introduced a killer new tune, which goes untitled, but features a slide guitar and sounds very Doors-ish, a la L.A. Woman-era. Total win. -Michael Roffman

Rogue Wave
adidas MEGA, 1:00 p.m.

Photo by Cap Blackard

A scattered, relaxed crowd gathered for Rogue Wave as they eased their way on to the stage and tried to play, only to face technical difficulties. On the second try, with Steve Taylor still motioning for his keyboard to be turned up, sound gradually improved and sent the crowd on their way for a great set starting with Permalight‘sStars and Stripes”. The crowd started to pick up on the band’s energetic spirit with the third song of the set, “Solitary Gun”, as beach balls flew up into the air along with enthusiastic claps, causing vocalist, Zach Rogue, to scream, “I love you!”. When it came time to perform the very appropriate “Lake Michigan”, there was nothing but the banging of drums, teasing the crowd for a good minute until the rest of the band chimed in, lifting the audience into the most exciting moment of the set. -Lauren Guagno

Sony bloggie, 1:00 p.m.

“Oh, it’s gonna be another one of those shows.”

Playing a show early in the afternoon is a challenge for anyone, especially young bands who, let’s face it, more than likely partied a little too hard the night before. When the guitarist for Harlem apologized to the crowd by saying that they had just woken up, no one was surprised. Though they had some technical difficulties early on, the band played through them and the loose, ramshackle atmosphere they created was rather endearing. Midway through the show, the guitarist and drummer switched places, proving that these guys are talented musicians, even if their music tends to get a little off key. While the crowd was sparse, Harlem kept their energy high throughout their 35 minute set. While none of the songs were particularly remarkable, as my friend put it, “they’re just a fun rock ‘n’ roll band.” Sometimes, that’s all that matters. -Carson O’Shoney

Wild Beasts
Playstation, 1:15 p.m.

Photo by Heather Kaplan

From the introductory electronic plinking and spoken word poem, it was clear that Wild Beasts were going to be one of the more theatrical sets of the weekend. Dual vocalists Tom Fleming and Hayden Thorpe’s operatic falsettos upped that gambit, much to the crowd’s delight. Fleming’s hollers of “Watch me!” over the marching beat of fan favorite “All the King’s Men” garnered matching howls from the huge, dancing crowd. “Where we’re from, everyone huddles and shivers and gets sad,” Thorpe remarked, lamenting the lack of a Lollapalooza in the band’s native Kendal, in the northwest of England. That might explain all of the pastoral drama, but it sure fit in even in the bright, midday sun. -Adam Kivel

Blues Traveler
Parkways, 1:45 p.m.

Photo by Cap Blackard

This writer grossly underestimated the audience that would turn out for this band’s performance Saturday afternoon. The biggest stage on the south side of Lolla, if not the whole of the festival, was packed with those eager to hear the jam band play their hits and deep cuts. Blues Traveler obliged right off the bat, marching out to “America, Fuck Yeah” from Team America: World Police and playing their most famous hit, “Run-Around”. Between this and the closer, “Hook”, the group played a solid hour’s worth of extended jams, including “You, Me and Everything”, with calls from the band and answers from the crowd. Two covers were also performed: Sublime’s “What I’ve Got” to big success, and Radiohead’s “Creep” which proved to be, well, different. “Wanna thank the Lollapaloozans,” said frontman John Popper near the end of the set. “Chicago, you rule!” Chicago apparently felt the same in return. – Justin Gerber

Sony bloggie, 2:15 p.m.

Photo by Cap Blackard

Shoegazy, psychedelic, dank; the four L.A. women that make up Warpaint may have only one EP under their belt (the solid Exquisite Corpse), but the controlled, tamed sound the group poured out onto the relaxed, shaded crowd sounded like a veteran outfit. “This song is called “Beetles”,” guitarist Theresa Wayman coyly announced, “It’s about your mind.” The chiming guitars, reverbed, dim bass and thundering drums sounded out songs that were simultaneously like a drug-induced hypnosis and a lithe dance party. The anthemic “Elephant” closed out the impressive set, with the telling “I’ll break your heart” looming over the stage. -Adam Kivel

Against Me!
adidas MEGA, 2:45 p.m.

“We got three hours of sleep last night… so we’re holding nothing back,” proclaimed Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel shortly after his band launched their mid-afternoon set at the adidas MEGA stage. By the time it was all said and done, Gabel proved a man of his words, as the Florida punk outfit spent the next 60 minutes dishing out ferocious punk rock, stopping only to take catch their breath. In turn, the crowd, already jazzed for the evening’s other mosh friendly entertainment, responded with a non-stop onslaught of moshes and crowd surfing. Even those in the back couldn’t help but offer a head bang or two. But, of course, mosh inducing was only one component of Against Me!’s set — the lyrical potency of 2007’s New Wave and the newly released White Crosses was on full display. In fact, the only real complaint that could be made was the presence of former Hold Steady multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay, who joined Against Me! earlier this year. There’s just something about curly mustaches and accordion playing that doesn’t really jive with lyrics pertaining to societal dissatisfaction and songs about abortion clinics. Thank god punks are so accepting. -Alex Young

Photo by Heather Kaplan

The xx
Playstation, 3:15 p.m.

Photo by Heather Kaplan

As Chicago’s hot sun baked the mixed crowd of fans (that being a mixture of “bros” and die-hard fans sporting black and white XX shirts), heavy drums and bass teased the crowd until Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, and Jamie Smith hit the stage. For a band who favors playing in the dark, the sun certainly didn’t mix well (or help), resulting in an odd setting that slowly bled spectators away. However, for the fans who stuck around, they witnessed a tremendous and awfully tight set. Sim stole the spotlight, though Croft appeared quite comfortable whispering every once and awhile. Next time, an evening set at the very least? -Phillip Roffman

Grizzly Bear
Budweiser, 4:15 p.m.

Photo by Heather Kaplan

“Holy shit, look at all of you!” – Ed Droste (after walking onstage to a massive crowd)

Music festivals are tailor-made for bands with high energy, high volume music. Grizzly Bear’s music is the exact opposite. They create subtle and beautifully intricate melodies that can be easily lost on large outdoor crowds. That kind of music is always a challenge in front of thousands of people on a hot day. Just a couple years ago, the thought of Grizzly Bear at a festival scared me away – as reviews of their sets at Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo in 2008 and 2009, respectively, were less than spectacular. But something happened between then and now – they’ve figured out how to make their music work for a large festival crowd. They’ll always be more of a club band – but playing to your audience is never a bad thing. They slightly beefed up their sound and put on a great show for a receptive crowd. The biggest cheers came for Veckatimest tracks, especially “Two Weeks”, but the band also dug into their earlier work and played fan favorites like “Knife” and “Little Brother”. In the end, Grizzly Bear beat the odds and came out on top with a captivating show. -Carson O’Shoney

Royal Bangs
BMI, 4:15 p.m.

Photo by Cap Blackard

“Hey, we’re Grizzly Bear, thanks so much for coming to see us tonight.” -Ryan Schaefer

This Knoxville trio’s been receiving its fair share of press lately. It helps that they’re adding more and more fans by the week, too. (I can’t tell you how many shirts I saw at Pitchfork this year.) But, they deserve it. Dubbed as Tropical and Neo-Soul, the Royal Bangs may not truly have a grasp on their sound yet, but whatever they’re doing is fun. At times it feels as if it’s Passion Pit covering a Billy Joel tune (“Maniverse”), other times it sounds like a quick take on LCD Soundsystem (“My Car is Haunted”). At the intimate BMI stage, where hundreds of folks cluttered the forest-y area primed to dance and groove, the sound apparently was a major success. Let’s just hope any new fans don’t go home thinking they’re Grizzly Bear. -Michael Roffman

Deer Tick
Sony bloggie, 5:00 p.m.

Photo by Cap Blackard

Beard of the festival goes to Deer Tick drummer, Dennis Ryan, whose beard puts Zach Galifianakis to shame. As for the music, equally impressive. John McCauley, rocking white-rimmed sunglasses and a white fedora, brought out his road-weary pipes amongst the southern-rock music. Within the controlled chaos, stunning five-count-‘em-five-part harmonies could be heard that hearkened back to The Allman Brothers. However, I doubt Gregg Allman and Duane Allman ever locked lips onstage after a jam session like McCauley and guitarist Ian O’Neil did during “Electric Funeral”. The audience was highly receptive, and played along with McCauley’s sense of humor. “Because this [“28 Miles”] is our only single off the new album,” he said, “by default, it’s the closest thing we have to a hit single.” A good band to check out as the sun began to set Saturday afternoon. – Justin Gerber

Playstation, 5:15 p.m.

Vocalist/guitarist Emily Haines (sometime contributor to Broken Social Scene, with a mellow side project called Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton) is clearly at the front of Metric‘s live show. She strutted and posed around the stage in the same vein as a Karen O, or even a Debbie Harry. The gigantic, pulsing electro-rock washing out over the humongous, elated audience. After the super-sing-along of “Help I’m Alive”, Haines tossed a “Hey Chicago, you’ve got to fight for your right to party” chorus into the middle of the pummeling, rapid “Empty”. After finding a pair of sunglasses tossed up at her feet, Haines swapped hers out for the fan donated ones, declaring that “this may be the only time there’ll be a wardrobe change in a Metric show,” her big, rock star grin beaming. James Shaw, Joshua Winstead and Joules Scott Key added a potent, crushing dose of rock for Haines to work with, making the seven year old “Dead Disco” ring out like a visceral, modern party jam. -Adam Kivel

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Social Distortion
Parkways, 5:45 p.m.

While older punk fans might cringe at the idea of veteran rockers Social Distortion opening for the likes of Green Day, frontman Mike Ness didn’t seem to mind. Sporting a tan, which showed off his glorious tattoos, and working off a voice that’s only become more scruffy over the years, Ness enthusiastically worked through the past hits and even managed to squeeze in a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb”. It wasn’t a memorable set by any means, and in fact, eight hours later, the only thing that comes to mind are tunes like “Story of My Life, “Ball & Chain”, and naturally, their iconic cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”. And while that’s not the most promising sentiment to leave on – especially since their next effort, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, is due out this November – it’s highly unlikely this band will have a problem maintaining its highly loyal fanbase. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t kicking myself for not seeing Spoon or Edward Sharpe, instead. -Michael Roffman

Budweiser, 6:15 p.m.

Photo by Heather Kaplan

“The last time we played a show like this was Coachella – you guys are putting them to shame.” – Britt Daniel

If there is one thing that Spoon has been throughout their 16-year career – it’s incredibly consistent. Over that span they’ve made seven albums, and not one of them is a clunker. It’s no surprise then that Spoon’s main stage show on Saturday night was consistently good throughout. From the opener, “Me and the Bean”, featuring just Britt Daniel and an acoustic guitar, to the rest of the set – which featured a horn section at some points – Spoon kept the crowd engaged from beginning to end. The one disappointment that was on everyone’s tongue at the end was the lack of “The Way We Get By”, but other than that glaring omission, Spoon played crowd favorites from their entire catalogue, like “I Turn My Camera On”, “The Underdog”, “I Summon You”, and “Writing in Reverse”, even throwing a Wolf Parade cover (“Modern World”) in for good measure. It wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t flashy, but it was a very solid set from a very solid band. -Carson O’Shoney

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Sony bloggie, 6:30 p.m.

“You should see how you look right now,” shouted Stewart Cole. “You look beautiful!” That “you” referred to the thousands who overwhelmed the Sony bloggie Stage, where fans hung from trees and crowd surfed nonstop – most of them covered head to toe in paint and toilet paper. Let’s break this down: Why were fans hanging from trees? Why were they covered in paint and toilet paper? Because Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros happened to be in town.

Photo by Cap Blackard

To say they stole the night would be unfair and unrealistic, but for lack of a better assessment, let’s just say they stole the night. How? Every song was delivered with so much enthusiasm and energy that fans never stopped moving. Not once. At one point, “40 Day Dream” brought about stomping feet and waving hands, keeping the ground in a healthy rhythm. The band had no intention of ignoring this energy either; instead, opting to get the crowd involved in more ways then expected, whether it was frontman Alex Ebert physically handing out tambourines to shake about or Jade Castrinos guiding us along through choruses.

Photo by Alex Young

It’s hard to believe that 10 musicians weren’t enough for everyone present. The cold, hard truth is that they weren’t. The fans just couldn’t help but want to be involved. So, in retrospect, the band was everyone present at the Sony bloggie Stage. Altogether, in this innate response to love and community, people both short and tell glimpsed a rare miracle. Once “Home” rung out, the ideal belief that world peace could happen seemed somewhat, believe it or not, realistic. As mentioned before, Stewart Cole cried out “You should see how you look right now. You look beautiful!” What we left out was that the crowd shouted back, “So do you!” It’s just a shame it had to end. -Phillip Roffman

Budweiser, 8:30 p.m.

Here’s a recipe for a good way to end day two of Lollapalooza. A crowd practically on cocaine or speed. Either one you pick. An overwhelming light show which could leave anybody an epileptic. Oh I almost forgot…Phoenix being the last ingredient. Although Green Day may have played 30 or so songs (clearly going over Lollapalooza’s curfew), Phoenix gave the crowd nothing less than what was to be expected from them in their recent visit to Letterman, KCRW, Bonnaroo etc. You could argue they added a spin on things, too. Let’s talk about this crowd, though.

Photo by Lauren Guagno

From the moment the band pummeled out “Lisztomania”, people went apeshit. Dance party would be an understatement, as it was a little more chaotic, so try and wrap your head around this image. Imagine hundreds of glow sticks (all resembling colors taken straight from Phoenix’s breakthrough effort, last year’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix) thrown into the air, dancing over the crowd, some exploding and spilling their colors out onto fans below. With this neon dressing everywhere, it was only a matter of time until it reached the stage, which it did, pegging Thomas Mars and the remainder of the band. Oh, there was sweat. Lots of it. And that was everywhere, too.

Photo by Lauren Guagno

Straying away from the setting and focusing primarily on the band, passion and energy come to mind. Passion in the sense of their overall message, which is to have nothing less than a good time. This idea came to fruition when the French quartet left the stage for a meek 30 seconds, only to come back and knock out “Funky Squaredance”. This kept the dance party in rhythm – there were even French flags! – and although they ended the set a tad early, you can’t say they didn’t try to keep things going. A cover of Air’s “Playground Love” went over well, as did their last song, the sleek mix up of “1901+1902”. -Phillip Roffman

Empire of the Sun
Perry’s, 9:00 p.m.

Empire of the Sun certainly know how to make an entrance. Their appearance at Lolla marks their first performance on North American soil and it was one for the record books. Not even Gaga, with all her fireworks and whatnot could achieve the theatricality that Luke Steele and company unleashed on the Perry’s stage. Any unsuspecting raver kids who didn’t know what was coming must’ve had their ecstacy-addled minds blown. Glittery dancers took the stage wearing large headdresses shaped like aqueducts and posed elegantly, with their capes billowing from strategically placed fans. Then the Emperor himself took the stage in his spiked headdress and chrome samurai armor. The audience was in awe.

A strong opening with Walking on a Dream single, “Standing on the Shore” led into the non-album thrasher, “Breakdown”, with Steele making frequent trips to the front of the stage to lay down some guitar work. This was not a predictable set. Yes, all the singles were played, but many were reworked, upping the tempo to keep the crowds dancing, and there was one song that has yet to be identified and possibly a new track. This show was glam performance at its finest. The dancing girls had at least five outfits and as the Swordfish Girls performed their own dance number, Steele slipped into something more comfortable. During a slightly faster rendition of the single version of “Without You”, Steele approached the audience and slipped into the pit of sweaty bodies, disappearing, but still singing and chiding on his fans with a cheerful, “c’mon girls.”

The tragic flaw of the show was Perry’s. It was a venue that could hardly contain the Empire. The stage, though well-equipped in lighting and sound, was built to house DJs and little else. Though the space was transformed to accommodate a rock set-up, it was still congested for Steele, plus his two bandmates and four dancers. The reconfiguration of the stage caused a slightly delayed start and the encore was only one song long and the obligatory, but sublime “Walking on a Dream”. You could tell Steele was disappointed to leave when curfew was called and the audience was disappointed to see him go. Hopefully this is only the beginning of the Empire’s reign in the States.

Photography by Cap Blackard

Green Day
Parkways, 7:45 p.m.

Christ, where do we start? Let’s go with the short summary: Green Day came to Chicago, lit off a couple of fireworks, and unloaded its two-decade plus catalog with smiles galore. Not good, enough? Okay…

Tonight, the Bay Area trio, led by a bleach blonde Billie Joe Armstrong – who should really take the Tonight Show reins from Leno – set the bar incredibly high for any headliners to follow. They did it all. Oldies surfaced (“Paper Lanterns”, “2,000 Light Years Away), flames rose from the stage, fans gave Armstrong a run for his money, fireworks lit up the sky 10 times over, and Jason Freese reinterpreted Van Halen’s “Eruption” via saxophone. That’s only a smidgen of what went down, though.

“Coming up is the Smashing Pumpkins,” Armstrong screamed to an adoring, swollen crowd. “Oh shit, wrong year.”

Quips continued throughout the night, including persistent demands for the crowd – everything from hand claps to countless “Hey oh’s”, which seemed to happen every five minutes. However, Armstrong intended to do more than just rile up the crowd, he wanted to turn the Windy City into a fiery hellstorm. Take for example, the event’s 10 p.m. curfew, which he sneered at, jovially declaring, “I say you kiss my white fucking ass, and we’ll play how long we want.” It should be noted that he stuck true to his words. They did play overtime – by 15 minutes, mind you – and the crowd did see his white ass. They just didn’t kiss it; though, a fan later did lay a smooch on Armstrong’s lips. Very funny.

Photo by Heather Kaplan

In terms of the actual performance, there was little room to complain. Sure, they spent a good 40 minutes performing material off of 2004’s American Idiot and last year’s sister album, 21st Century Breakdown, but to say any of it was uninteresting would be, well, a lie. Hell, they even threw in live rarities like “Letterbomb”, arguably one of the better non-singles off of American Idiot. Not to mention, when they started to dish out older material, they relished every minute of it, extending solos, working off bridges, and inviting sing-a-longs. At one point, they even worked through an assembly of classic rock riffs, starting with “Iron Man”, continuing with “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love” and “Sweet Child of Mine”, and finally finishing with “Highway to Hell” which eventually morphed into one hell of rendition of “Brain Stew”. And, naturally, that led into “Jaded”.

But it wasn’t just the adrenaline-induced songs that sold this show. No, it was Green Day’s consistent charisma and charm; the sort that lets you know this band loves you, just as much as you love them. Just look at ’em: Armstrong’s youthful smile, bassist Mike Dirnt’s silent humor, and drummer Tre Cool’s cartoon-like behavior… it all adds up. They’re characters, they’re entertainers, and they’re exceptional musicians. They cover all the angles, and yet they always appear to be trying harder. What’s more, you never feel left out. You always feel as if you’re adding to the experience.

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Okay, so the majority of the crowd were hardly out of their diapers when Dookie hit the streets back in ’94, but what does that matter? There were still plenty of old timers, all looking to find a solid rock ‘n’ roll show and hear their favorite tunes. Green Day accomplished all of that, without sacrificing any of their sound. They went the extra mile. That seemed pretty obvious when they dove into the nine minute opus, “Jesus of Suburbia”, five minutes after their set was scheduled to end. They also followed it with two more tracks. Let’s just say Mr. Farrell will probably have a couple of letters from unhappy nearby residents next week.

Eh, lump ’em in with the minor few who didn’t consider tonight one of the best nights in Lollapalooza history. Popular opinion is usually bullshit, but we’ll weigh in with the majority this time around. Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Cool, and Mr. Dirnt, we’re not worthy. We’re not worthy. -Michael Roffman

Gallery by Heather Kaplan

[nggallery id=92]

Gallery by Cap Blackard

[nggallery id=91]


Follow Consequence