Lollapalooza: Sunday

We catch X Japan, Frank Turner and the Arcade Fire during Sunday's line-up

Sunday may have started with a drizzle but definitely ended with a bang.  With acts like Soundgarden, Arcade Fire, Yeasayer, and the National dominating the end of the fest concert goers had loads of options on how to spend the last day of Lollapalooza.  Dominick parked himself at the Budweiser stage to be a front-line warrior for Arcade Fire, while Amy wandered around and caught some amazing acts on the North stages.

Frank Turner: Noon-12:30, Sony Bloggie stage

It was unusual to see Manchester native Frank Turner with a full live band, as his three released LP’s so far, most recently last year’s Poetry of the Deed showcased his lyrical talent as a solo acoustic singer. This said, the folk-punk style of his solo output translated impeccably to a live set that defied the morning downpour. Turner is a genial presence onstage, but not in the “aw shucks” way that can often feel forced; he’s just an assured, talented musician. The early part of his set was good, but where it moved up to great was with “Long Live The Queen,” a song as heartbreaking as was heard at any point during the festival. That, combined with the closer “Photosynthesis” and its singalong chorus of “I won’t sit down/And I won’t shut up/And most of all I will not grow up” made for an excellent set to start the final day, and one of the more notable of the weekend. Turner mentioned that he’ll be touring with Social Distortion in the fall. Expect to hear a lot more about him, very soon.

Blitzen Trapper: 2-3, Budweiser stage

This was a trying set for diehard Arcade Fire or even MGMT fans waiting for later in the day. Many had been there since The Antlers began at noon (I can’t review that set due to only seeing the last 45 minutes, but what I caught was excellent), and at this point in the day the sun made its presence felt. The early afternoon slot was perfect for Blitzen Trapper’s folksy Southern rock, but their set was, lacking a less assertive term, a total bore. While there was nothing particularly wrong with the set other than some questionable sounds coming from the stage (a theme the whole weekend), the band doesn’t have any kind of stage presence, and so much like the Drive-By Truckers set on Friday, it was a well-played set that very few people present were actually engaged by. If anything, it was slightly more pronounced because Trapper were dull in the middle of a much plusher time slot.

The Ike Reilly Assassination: 2:15-3, Sony bloggie stage

The crowd was an odd mix of middle age couples and teenage boys at the Sony bloggie stage, all awaiting Chicagoland natives the Ike Reilly Assassination to start playing.  Once they did, the small crowd erupted with fist pumping.  Ike Reilly and his band were up against some stiff competition, with Blitzen Trapper and the Cribs playing on either sides of them.  But the band still played their hearts out.  Their set wasn’t the most riveting one of the day and their sound is a little outdated, however the Ike Reilly Assassination performed to the fullest.  The members of the band may be older than the majority of the acts at Lollapalooza but these guys still know how to play a big stage.  Great midday distraction before some of the bigger acts of the day. (AD)

Yeasayer: 4-5, Budweiser stage

Now here is a band that exudes assured cool, even as they make interesting and pretty unusual pop music. From the moment Yeasayer took the stage, there was nothing in their demeanor that spoke to them trying to be weird for weird’s sake just because they’re an experimental-ish indie band (take notes, every member of Animal Collective), and so there was nothing to put off an audience from what was, at its core, a set of excellent music to dance to. “Ambling Alp,” which closed their set, somehow managed to come off even more rousing in person than it was on this year’s Odd Blood. “O.N.E.” and “2080” were also standouts, as the alternating vocals of Chris Keating and Anand Wilder played perfectly off one another. Those standing around me said that Yeasayer sound better in a club environment, and this is possible, but their Lolla set was still enough to convert what by the end was a pretty sizable audience.

X Japan: 4-5, Parkways Foundation stage

“We love America!” lead singer Toshi screamed to an adoring crowd at X Japan’s first show in America.  The Japanese speed metal band’s performance in Chicago marks their first show overseas and judging from the crowd you’d think they have been doing world tours since they started in the 80s.  Toshi and the gang played with the same zeal as they did in their heyday (although most are saying their new album could inspire a new one) with guitar solos and double bass drum hits riddling the set.  Their stage show was as epic as their songs, full of pyrotechnics and interesting on stage outfits.  On stage antics aside this band is actually quite talented.  Their music and live performance was engaging, and although the members aren’t native to America they really know how to rev up the crowd.  A band is a band, and if they can't perform well on stage they might as well stop being one.  X Japan used the entire stage as their playground, running around and playing their hearts out.  And these guys are 40 and over!  What a hard act to follow.  Sign me up as a X Japan fan. (AD)

MGMT: 6-7:15, Budweiser stage

What. A. Colossal. Clusterfuck. This. Was. There’s really no way to do justice to the level on which this set got out of hand, but first, the set itself. Not exactly reputed as the greatest live band in the world, something has finally clicked. Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser are living up to the deafening hype around them, and defied that hype with the gleefully bizarre Congratulations. Their set, which some worried would be heavy on material from that new record, was a populist affair, and many of the new tracks played well. “Flash Delirium” is fantastic live, and the baroque surf pop of “It’s Working” and “Song For Dan Treacy” aligns surprisingly well with their older hits. If anything, the band are getting bigger than anybody expected, because the crowd for their set was absolutely insane, in such a way that one wonders if they won’t be headlining festivals in the near future. “Kids” and “Time To Pretend” had the entire audience eating out of their palms.

However, I’d be remiss were I not to mention the mess it turned into. A certain degree of shoving and uncomfortable proximity to those around you is to be expected at any major set at an outdoor festival, but MGMT’s was downright dangerous. People around me were warning security beforehand that things were going to get bad, and the security force simply laughed them off. By fifteen minutes into the set, I was able to see people hyperventilating and trying to get out, but the crowd was moving in uncontrollable waves, to a point where at one moment I was standing at a 45-degree angle. I’m not one to jump on a soapbox and make the “rock bands should be more responsible” point, but at no point did the band or security do anything to calm the crowd. Even Rage Against The Machine was more responsible two years ago. I’m just saying.

Flosstradamus: 6:30-7:30, Perry’s stage

If you’re a Chicagoan, you know you can see Flosstradamus in the city any day of the week.  They play small clubs, medium sized venues, and now the duo played the in front of hundreds at Perry’s stage.  The band opened up with J2K’s single from his new solo project DJ Boyfriend called “The Shouts Pt. 2,” accompanied by hilarious and entertaining visuals.  Small club to big stage, Flosstradamus’s music can make any size crowd dance.  The band played various samples, from Outkast’s “B.O.B” to the Champs’ “Tequila,” each track woven into Floss’s hot beats.  Best part of Floss’s set: Holding up a baby during their sample of “The Circle of Life” with a clip of Rafiki holding up Simba playing on the screen behind them.  The crowd went absolutely nuts.  Once the baby was safely backstage, it absolutely erupted.  Dancing, jumping, inflatable women crowd surfing.  It was a mad, mad dance party.  Flosstradamus really knows how to put on a show and play to a crowd.  And they actually used the turntables in front of them!  They get 10 points just for that. (AD)

Arcade Fire: 8:30-10, Budweiser stage

First, let it be said: Yes, although half the set was new material off The Suburbs, this was not a hindrance in any way. In fact, the crowd was incredibly into the new material, especially considering that most of them didn’t know any of it. “We Used To Wait” and “Rococo” both sounded fantastic (the latter better than on the album, for my money), and “Sprawl II” was huge-sounding, though a surprising choice to slot right in the middle of their set. Arcade Fire had big shoes to fill, as Soundgarden could be heard from all the way over at the other end of the park before the North headliner took the stage. It was no trouble, though, because Arcade Fire put on what was easily the best show of the weekend, without compare. There wasn’t much from Neon Bible played, but “Intervention” and “No Cars Go” are indescribably massive live, even if the former was done in a slightly subdued form. “Keep The Car Running” closed the main set, and was a good comedown before the encore. More on that in a moment. By and large, this set was a) a showcase for Suburbs material and more importantly b) a great set for everybody who was there to hear songs from Funeral. The first three “Neighborhood” tracks were all played, as was “Haiti,” which was an awesome showcase for the usually underrated Regine Chassagne. There were two songs, however, that bought the house down. Strangely, one of them isn’t often played live, and Win Butler said as much, dedicating “Crown of Love” to The National. The massive scale of that song was jaw-dropping, and at one point the giant monitors on each stage cut to a shot of the thousands and thousands in the crowd swaying in unison. Then, the climactic dance breakdown at the end had every single person off their feet. The other standout was their encore performance of “Wake Up.” It’s not often you can feel yourself watching a classic concert “moment,” as the idea of a moment is built upon thinking back on it later. This having been said, the moment when Grant Park erupted into the song’s “Ahhh-ahh” chorus may very well go down as one of them.

Stay tuned to HEAVEmedia for interviews with Sunday performers Miniature Tigers and Frightened Rabbit.

Photo courtesy of LollapaloozaFest.

Posted by Amy Dittmeier on Aug 09, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

lollapalooza, frank turner, blitzen trapper, the ike reilly assassination, yeasayer, x japan, mgmt, flosstradamus, arcade fire