Saturday: Rain, I don't mind
11:45: Matt & Kim, Adidas Stage
James: 11:45 is way too early to rock out, but you wouldn’t know that by seeing Matt & Kim, the indie electronic rock duo from Brooklyn who rushed the stage pumped and ready to play (and I think already a little drunk). Plagued by technical difficulties, the two made the most of it, killing the downtime by telling funny stories and acting goofy. Thankfully they were equally as entertaining when they were playing music, with their quirky, synth-based tunes drawing a huge response from the surprisingly large crowd who came early to check them out. They didn’t play a full 45 minutes (I don’t think they even that much material to play) but they were so much fun to see it didn’t feel like a gyp in the slightest. Afterwards Kim did something I didn’t see any other artist at Lollapalooza do, which was jump down and greet her fans.
I got my picture taken with her. She’s really hot.
12:15: Ludo, BMI Stage
James: I’ve kicked myself for missing future favorites at past Lollapaloozas so I could check out “in” bands that I wasn’t really into (skipping the Distillers for Incubus at the 2003 Lollapalooza was a call I still regret), so this year I went out of my way to check out a few bands I knew nothing about. My adventurous spirit paid off when I had the luck of discovering this great band from St. Louis, who is one part Weezer, one part Coheed & Cambiria and one part Queen. Half of the tunes they performed were hysterical, why-did-you-leave-me-you-bitch rants and the other half were excerpts from their rock opera EP Broken Bride, which is about a man who builds a time machine to save his wife but ends up traveling to prehistoric times to battle pterodactyls and the far-future to defeat an army of the undead right before the Rapture (seriously). Great songs, a genuine enthusiasm to be there and a bitchin’ cover of Faith No More’s “Epic” sealed the deal for me; these guys were my best find of Lolla ’07.
2:30: Silverchair, AT&T stage (pic #1, right)
David: As one of the six fans who heard and loved The Dissociatives, the electronic pop record Silverchair singer/guitarist Daniel Johns made with DJ buddy Paul Mac (who played keys for the band today), I was perhaps inexplicably excited to see a band whose music I loathed with the white hot fire of a thousand suns when they first hit the scene. However, their subsequent records, my friend Steve tells me, were power pop gems, and the new one is supposed to be as well (I received a copy the day before we left for Chicago, and still haven’t had the chance to spin it). So would Silverchair live up to my lofty expectations?
This isn’t to say that their show was flawless. The band left no rock cliché behind, be it goading the crowd into singing on Johns’ behalf or Johns picking the guitar with his teeth. Also, even for the uninitiated, one could tell exactly which songs were early Silverchair songs and which ones were more recent, so strong was the grunge vibe to those Frogstomp songs. Having said that, it’s good to see that Johns has grown into his voice and given up on trying to be Eddie Vedder. Johns also gets our award for quote of the weekend. Actually, he gets the gold and silver medals for quotes of the weekend. The runner-up: “The band wanted me to tell you that we’re not gay.” (All band members were sporting ‘70s porn mustaches.) The winner: “I had a dream that I vomited dolphins.” As long as you bring the rock, you can dream about whatever you want, Daniel.
3:00: Lady Gaga, BMI Stage (#2-3)
Jason: The cooler temperatures and cloudy sky were already going to make this second day at Lolla better than the first as far as comfort, but little did I know the music was going to mostly be amazing as well. My first stop was at the BMI stage to check out Lady Gaga. She was doing her sound check when I first walked up to get my spot at the front of the stage. She had shades on and a long t-shirt under which you could catch a glimpse of…something else. When the show began, she took the stage in a skimpy two-piece getup in black stockings while her DJ Lady Starlight started spinning the vinyl beats in the back while wearing a yellow bikini thingy. Wowie!
That would have been groovy enough right there, but the songs were just killer. Lady Gaga played this wonderful, power-pop/bubblegummy/disco/dance mélange that had me hooked after the first four measures of the first tune. She’d play and sing, and do some dancing, propping one leg up on an amp or wrapping herself around one of the supports at the side of the stage. She started to disrobe in the middle of the set, but ran to the back for a quick costume change while Lady Starlight shook her ass for the crowd. It was a good time for all, and even the ladies in the crowd were dancing and having a good time. Unfortunately, Lady Gaga didn’t have a CD to purchase in the merch tent. I wanted one terribly, as did others who caught the show. She’s only 20 years old to boot. Suffice it to say this gal kicks major ass and will undoubtedly be making waves when that CD does finally drop.
3:30: Motion City Soundtrack, MySpace stage (#4)
David: Once again I show my age by revealing that I had never heard of Motion City Soundtrack before today. I was clearly in the minority, since there were a ton of kids there to see the Kal Penn-ish singer (his mother calls him Justin Pierre) and his peppy rock band. My buddy Tim and I were about to head to the north side, but once we heard drummer Tony Thaxton, we decided to stick around, since there are few bad bands with good drummers. Sure enough, these guys were pretty damn good, in an ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of Jimmy Eat World’ kind of way. According to Wikipedia, their new record boasts both Adam Schlesinger and Ric Ocasek as producers. That speaks volumes, right there. I’ll have to keep my eye on these whippersnappers.
4:30: The Roots, Bud Light stage (#5)
David: We arrived about halfway through the Roots’ show, and I kept wondering: they do their own songs, right? From the second we arrived, I heard snippets of “Good Times,” “In a Gadda da Vida” and, horrors, Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” What the hell is going on here, and why is the audience so into it? Eventually, we heard an original tune, and it rocked. Why, then, didn’t they do more of them?
5:00: Roky Erickson & the Explosives, PlayStation stage (#6)
Jason: Here’s the entire reason I came to Lolla. When I saw Roky’s name on the roster, I knew I had to accept the invitation to help cover the festival. Needless to say, I was not disappointed once Erickson took the stage. Beatle Bob introduced him, saying something along the lines of how every garage band that is currently out now owes everything to Roky. Undoubtedly true, but if only every garage band out now sounded half as good as Roky, then the world might be a bit more rockin’.
Erickson played his damn heart out for an hour and the crowd loved every last moment of it. Old diehards were yelling out song titles and there were constant cries of “Rokyyyyyyyy!” The dude just burned the place down with his psychedelic blues. I couldn’t believe how phenomenal his voice sounded. It was great to see him out there smiling and joyful after years of battling schizophrenia. And just when I was looking over my left shoulder to see the rest of the crowd digging the show, I spot Jeff Tweedy of Wilco chatting to some kids some 50 feet away from me. That was cool, but I stayed right where I was to enjoy every note blasted out from Erickson’s guitar. Phenomenal.
5:30: Regina Spektor, Adidas stage (#7)
David: Regina Spektor is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen on a stage in my life. She’s Tori Amos without the pretense (she even has the red hair and fair skin, but she’s far better looking than Tori) and Nellie McKay without the crazy. And her vibe is so innocent and pure that, to paraphrase Information Society sampling “Star Trek,” it is useless to resist her.
She walks out onstage with only a mic, doing an a cappella version of one of her songs – to be honest, I’ve never heard any of her songs before – with only the tapping of her finger on the mic acting as her instrumentation. Later she played a song with her left hand on the piano and her right hand banging a drum stick on a chair. It sounds ridiculous, but again, she’s so damn sweet about it all that you forgive the ridiculousness of it instantly. And if she hadn’t already done enough to win our hearts, she definitely won them when she stopped her set once she saw a girl in the crowd that needed help. She pointed security towards the girl’s location and asked the crowd to split like the Red Sea in order to accommodate security. Think about that for a second. Had that happened at Woodstock ’99, the girl would have been raped three times and then set on fire. Those Lolla attendees, they’re good people.
6:30: Snow Patrol, Bud Light stage (#8)
Bullz-Eye reviews: Eyes Open (2006)
David: Snow Patrol’s set was a phenomenon that I would experience quite a few times this weekend: the thought of, “These guys sound great…so why am I bored?” They really did sound quite good, but their songs, well, they don’t exactly rock. They’re catchy, and they’re pretty, but they don’t rock. After about 15 minutes, I left to get some food (chicken on a stick, it’s the bomb), and listened to a few more tunes off in the distance. I heard singer Gary Lightbody make a comment about Spider-Man doing well, presumably a reference to someone climbing the stage. As I headed for the south side, I tried to remember what Snow Patrol’s set sounded like, but I couldn’t help but sing, “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig / Does whatever a Spider-Pig does…”
7:30: Patti Smith, Adidas stage
Bullz-Eye reviews: Twelve (2007)
Jason: At first I was going to see Spoon, but instead I rolled the dice on Patti, figuring this was an artist that was undoubtedly more important to see live if only for her legacy in rock music. So after making the trek back to the media tents only to find there was no water to be had, I wearily walked all the way back to the Adidas stage and waited for Patti to begin her show. Beatle Bob was there again, but he only stood at the side of the stage. Smith and the band took the stage with no pre-announcement and the crowd went crazy. She started with some great little reggae tune that I don’t know the name of, but really loved nevertheless. Then things got a bit darker. Darker, but not tragic.
Patti kicked ass in a way that seriously moved me as I watched her performance. This woman is 61 and just tore it down. It was really like an exorcism of herself and the fans as she took us all on a moving journey that included highlights like “Because the Night,” “Gloria,” and a jaw-dropping performance of “Rock and Roll Nigger” that just had to be seen to be believed. The rain fell steadily, but not hard and everyone stuck together, loving every moment. The only part I wasn’t big on was Smith’s cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but only because I never really dug that song to begin with. However, something about it moved Patti to tears near the end. Indeed, it was overall an experience to behold. I came away amazed and overjoyed. That’s what rock and roll is all about.
7:30: Spoon, MySpace stage (#9-10)
Bullz-Eye reviews: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
David: See Snow Patrol. I like Spoon, I really do, but their live show does absolutely nothing for me. Their angular rock may be interesting to listen to, but watching it is another matter entirely. Plus, the crowd for Muse was starting to build, so Tim and I headed for the AT&T stage and listened to Spoon off in the distance, secure in the knowledge that we were not missing anything by not being able to see Britt Daniel and his mates banging away. About 20 minutes into Spoon’s set, it begins to rain. It feels awesome.
8:30: Interpol, Bud Light stage (#11-12)
Jason: Okay, nothing was going to compare to the previous three acts I had already witnessed. Nothing. About a minute after Patti Smith’s show was done, Interpol’s concert began on the adjacent Bud Light stage. After I heard the first dour, slow chord, I knew I was going to be bored within a matter of moments. Sure enough, the Interpol gang wasted no time at dragging their songs and feet about the stage, bathed in blue light and not being very exciting (or excitable). To me, they sounded like Bauhaus, and even though I like some of Bauhaus’ stuff, this was not any of that sort. No, it was just long, brooding, and utterly boring pap that I had zero interest in. Two songs were enough. I wasn’t going to let these guys ruin the great stuff I had already seen. So back to the hotel it was.
8:30: Muse, AT&T stage (#13-14)
Bullz-Eye reviews: Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
David: Thanks to the rain, the crowd was now cooled down and excited to see Muse let it rip. Now, anyone who reads this site on a regular basis knows that I’m one of the biggest Muse fans you’re likely to find, but I found the set list, and the order of it, to be a bit perplexing. Opening a 90-minute set with “Take a Bow” is one thing to do to people who come just to see you, but for a festival crowd, the multiple key changes are a lot to swallow. And then, to follow that with the minor-key, Depeche Mode-like “Map of the Problematique” is just asking for trouble. No wonder Chicago Sun-Times music critic Jim DeRogatis slammed them in his blog, though I suspect that he would have done that anyway, since he admitted to me the next day that he simply doesn’t like the band.
However, to Jim’s credit, I can understand how someone unfamiliar with the band would have been disappointed. The set contained far too many melancholy moments for a band with so much upbeat material in its catalog. While I was thrilled to see them play “Butterflies and Hurricanes,” my favorite song from Absolution, singer/guitarist/concerto pianist Matthew Bellamy stayed at the piano for another three to four songs, and believe me, the crowd felt every one of them. Kudos to them for pulling out songs like “Plug In Baby” for the diehards, but what everyone needed at night’s end was energy, man. I, for one, would have traded “Feeling Good” for “Exo-Politics” or “City of Delusion” any day of the week. Regardless, when the band finally whipped out “Knights of Cydonia,” all was clearly forgiven, as the entire crowd starting jumping up and down as if their lives depended on it. Not the best set I’ve seen the band play, but the back half of “Knights of Cydonia” made up for any missteps that came before it.