Lollapalooza 2010

Grant Park

Day One: August 6, 2010

So here we go with another year of Lollapalooza. The day began as any other Lolla day one, in a very slow moving line. They changed the entrance this year and blocked off another street, thereby making it super easy to go from stage to stage, and also eliminating the 3 block long line, transforming it into a one block, full street wide, line. Then the ticket scanners crashed. Ha. So finally at 11:15 people got let in, and the entire crowd, save a few stragglers for Javelin and These United States, headed for the Adidas Mega Stage for B.o.B. The guy has one of the hottest songs right now in Airplanes and was playing a substage at 11:30 am. Oops. Though he had to have set the record for biggest 11 am crowd ever. I passed Javelin on my way to Bobby Ray, they sounded pretty neat, and I will have to check them out later. Also, passed These United States--unimpressive. B.o.B. really surprised me as to the show he put on. Of course my expectations were low (as were Lolla's since they had him on at 11:30) but he did rock the crowd. After him, across the field at the Parkways Stage Balkan Beat Box unleashed their fury. Part gypsy punk, part ska, and part disco, the BBB played an amazing set, and it seemed to me that they could have played for 3 hours and still stayed fresh. High energy, a lot of percussion and a whole lot of fun. The Walkmen took the stage across the way and weren't very good, so I decided to get some food and check out Perry's new setup. Ancient Astronauts were mixing up the Ramones to a reggae beat, but I was just there to see the stage. I wandered over to the BMI stage to get out of the sun and listen to Jukebox the Ghost. The lolla program said somthing comparing them to Ben Folds Five, but aside from the Guitar, Piano, Drums set up, I didn't understand how the dance music translated to faggy white boy with piano music, but then they played not dance music and lost me. Thankfully My Dear Disco were coming up next. The Ann Arbor quintent had everything you want in a dance band--hot singer, whacked out drummer, fantastic bass player, whockachicka guitar, and of course, electric bagpipes. It takes a special band to start a dance party on a friday afternoon, and My Dear Disco delivered.

I passed the Kids Stage where Live Frontman Ed Kowalczyck was going to take the stage to do something, but I couldn't stick around because on the Parkways Stage Devo was about to perform. For the first part of their set, almost everything was new--Don't Shoot, What We Do, Fresh, Going Under, Planet Earth (with Peek a Boo snuck in the middle) I was sort of bummed they played Whip It, but what do you do. Second half of their set was all classic--That's Good, Gut Feeling, Girl U Want, and of course Jocko Homo. Then they really went all out and played Mongoloid and Spud Patrol Mr DNA. I have liked Devo for a very long time, and never thought I would get to see them play live. Thank you Lollapalooza for allowing me to realize a dream.

Matt and Kim took the stage across the field and weren't very impressive to me. Yeah I get that you really have a good time playing on stage, I get that you go all Tyler Palko and drop F-Bombs all over your inter-song dialogue, but learn another rhythm. When their set finished, I moved up close for Chromeo, but in the meantime, Hot Chip took their spot on the Parkways stage. Not knowing what to expect from them, I was impressed. They played a style of electronic music pretty close to the Killers or Miike Snow, and had excellent DJ bobs.

Lollapalooza got me hooked on Chromeo two years ago, and now they were back, with a new album on the horizon and a much better timeslot. They did play the same stage as 2008, but the crowd was several times larger. I was about 20 feet from the stage for Chromeo so that led to a bunch of jerks trying to move further up into the crowd, getting kicked in the head by a crowd surfer, and subsequently keeping that crowd surfer from falling on her head, only to save another girl ten minutes later. The crowd was pumped and Dave 1 and P Thugg were having a blast on stage. Or maybe they were just amused by the inflatable monkeys.

Then there was Gaga. Honestly, I was expecting a lot more from Lady Gaga than what she provided. There were a lot of unneeded intersong theatrics, screaming for no reason, and motivational speaking. Sorry Lady Gaga, I don't need you to give me a pep talk. I have never seen so many people leave the headliner set before this year. It's like everyone wanted to give her a fair chance, then three songs into it, realize it wasn't all that great. When she started talking about the gays and brought out a bunch of 75% naked male dancers, even more people left. Who would ever think that Lady Gaga would be too political for some. She should have just played Bad Romance for 2 hours, it would have been a better show.

Day One Highlights: My Dear Disco really tore up the BMI Stage but it was really hard to top Balkan Beat Box's early morning set
Lowlights:I really thought they fixed the cell phone connectivity issues last year, I guess I was wrong.

Day Two: August 9, 2010

Day two began like so many other day twos of yore at the BMI stage. An act out of New Orleans called MyNameisJohnMichael was the early band. They were a straight up power pop band reminiscent of WMMF. Most notable about the set was that the during the last two songs a trash can was used as a percussion instrument--and I'm not talking about like street musician banging on buckets and trash cans, I'm talkin the keyboard player and later the drummer smashing the hell out of this thing with a mallet and then a steel chain. Good stuff. Band number two of the day was over on the PLaystation stage and was finishing up as I wanderd over. Danish band The Kissaway Trail was an synthy pop band, and wasn't energetic. Thankfully The Soft Pack brought their vintage guitar sound to the Budweiser stage and rocked out for 45 minutes. Before their last song, someone in the crowd must have yelled Rubber Soul. The lead singer was like, "I don't know any Rubber Soul" and then the drummer chimed in "We are going to play side A of Rubber Soul, but we only have two minutes. There will be a lot of blast beats." Ha.

The Wild Beasts took the Playstation Stage, and while I love a good art rock band, I do not like them at one in the afternoon in a festival. So I walked away and got some food. It was back to the BMI stage which had become the home of afternoon 80s dance music, it seemed. Dragonette was there this time, and while more synthpop than the straight up dance of My Dear Disco, an afternoon dance party ensued. While I wanted to see The XX, I didn't want to have to cross the field, so I checked out Against Me instead. They were reminiscent of Rise Against of last years lineup--sort of generic mainstream friendly punk rock. I wasn't really paying too much attention to them because I was getting ready for the craziness that was about to ensue.

Gogol Bordello is absolutely nuts and a lot of fun. Having missed their set two years ago, I was happy to get the chance to see them this year. I still don't know what he was saying half the time, but it was a great time. After the amazing show they put on, AFI had to follow on the stage across the field. Few people noticed them--I think they had one of the smaller crowds I've seen in that time slot. Maybe it was because indie sensations Grizzly Bear, Metric and Deer Tick all wer playing against them on other stages, or maybe it was because people were getting ready for Social D.

Social Distortion put on a great show as always, opening with Story of My Life and Closing with Ring of Fire. In between was a lot of rock and roll goodness. Why you would want to be bored by the dead crowd of Metric, instead of rocking out to Social D, I don't know. I guess its the same reason why people went to see Phoenix instead of Green Day. But before Green Day, Slightly Stoopid took the stage with a puff of smoke across the field. Falling into the not-jam-band half of stoner music, they were pretty good, but sounded just like every other reggae-ish stoner band,

It will be interesting to note that before Green Day, and while Slightly Stoopid was still on stage, a guy in a pink bunny costume was up on the Parkways stage, pretending to get drunk, and then dancing to YMCA. He got a bigger reaction than the band across the field. Ha.

Green Day took the stage at 7:45 and played until 10:20. No pauses, no costume changes, no motivational speeches, no set changes. Just song after song for two and a half hours. Way more exciting than anything Phoenix would be doing across the park. Somehow they even made 21 Guns listenable. They guy they picked out of the crowd to sing Longview could have been an amazing frontman if he took a few voice lessons--He was running around the stage, ad libbing "hey"s and generally doing all the things a good front man does. He did attempt a jump from the Stack down onto the stage, but didn't stick the landing, so I could only give him an 8. My buddy Mike gave him an A-, Billie Joe gave him a guitar. Say what you will about Green Day's music, but they know how to put on a show. And at least a dozen people will now be able to forever tell the story about how they got on stage with Green Day--not just at a random tour stop, but at Lollapalooza.

Day Two Highlight:I don't think I can not say Green Day.
Day Two Lowlight:Wild Beasts. That's a band that needs to be seen in the dark.

Day Three: August 10, 2010

I had to miss the super early bands on day three because I had to hang out in my hotel until I could print out my boarding pass. But I did manage to get there right at noon when Frank Turner was starting his set on the Sony Bloggie Stage. He played a brand of powerpop that just begged you to sing along, except that nobody new any of the words. The Antlers were next and they played some ambient emo music, that if it wasnt gloomy and raining, would have fallen flat. But because of the bad weather, it actually was pretty good. I still like Paper Route as a better example of this style of music. The Dodos took the stage across the field next, with their plaid shirts and moustaches. Neko Case joined them for backing vocals on two songs, but was not clad in plaid and appeared sans moustache. They were better than what I expected only knowing of them from the one song that I hear every day at work.

Blitzen Trapper was next and were a lot better than I expected too, anytime the lolla program mentions country I am skeptical, but there wasn't a whole lot of that evident. After them, I headed back to the Sony Bloggie stage where Hockey was due up. We all know what happened last year, so I was anxious to see their act under better conditions. They certainly delivered. From their retro 80s sound, the next stop was the crazy metal sylings of X Japan. They were awesome, but I really don't know how they didn't die in the heat, as they were all in full trademark outfits. The lead singer was clad in leather pants and had a coat on. They rocked hard and fast, and declared their last song at 20 minutes to go, and then ran over their set time. Not that it would matter because Erykah Badu was late. I skipped her over and went to Perry's where Mexican Institute of sound was playing. When they finished up, it was announced that Big South cancelled, so in his place was JFK. It made me wonder what the other guy from MSTRKRFT was doing, and why he wasn't there, too. I only listened to about 2 minutes because I had to go back to the Parkways stage for Wolfmother.

Wolfmother put on a tremendous show-- old time rock and roll that never failed to get you moving. As they were finishing up their set with The Joker and the Thief, we headed back over to the north side of the park, for the National and Arcade Fire. We got there early enough to hear MGMT finish up their set, and from what little I saw, it was obvious that they improved their show from two years ago. When they played Kids (Which B.o.B. had covered two days previous), they had a frog puppet singing the lyrics. Ha. I had seen The National two years ago and wasn't impressed with their live act then and wasn't particularly impressed today either. I like their music, I just don't like it after X Japan and Wolfmother. Finally the Arcade Fire took the stage and I just couldn't get into them. I don't know how Soundgarden was fairing across the field, but I really wasn't too keen on seeing them either. So I left the show a little early, happy that the bands I had seen previously made up for the lack of must see headliner on the final night.

Day Three Highlight: Going from head bobbin to Hockey one minute and Head banging to X Japan the next.
Day Three Lowlight: The fact that Wolfmother was the last band I wanted to see