Saturday, August 7, 2010

Live Review - Lollapalooza Day 2

Today may go down as the greatest experience at a music festival I ever had. Just non stop running around from one great band to another. Today was the day that punk rock went head to head against indie and I must say, punk was victorious. As Lady Gaga had her Little Monster's in full force yesterday; punks, mods and rude boys outnumbered the hipsters 10 to one.

Starting off the day was Toronto via New York City band Stars. The band's beautiful electronica was much better than I expected and the songs from their latest, Five Ghosts projected very well in concert. A very entertaining band that saw them shooting confetti cannons and flowers into the crowd. Stars really had the crowd entertained, yet as their set came winding down, I ran on over to see Florida punks Against Me! Against Me! were joined by former Hold Steady keyboardist/accordion player Franz Nicolay. Franz always seems to change the dynamic of each band he plays with and Against Me! were just simply stunning. Loud, fast and aggressive they really impressed me. Dressed in all black during the hot sun, they played through the heat and sweat and just kept it going hit after hit. From their latest "I Was a Teenage Anarchist" to "Don't Loose Touch" to "New Wave" and beyond, Against Me! set the punk tone for the rest of the day.

As they wrapped, gypsy punks Gogol Bordello took the main stage. The Lollapalooza vets were downsized from their jaw dropping 2008 set, just nine members on stage instead of the normal bakers dozen. Still one of the most fun live acts you will see, Eugene Huntz is just the essential front man and will make sure every ass in shaking while he is in charge on stage. I made the mistake of leaving their set early to catch Grizzly Bear. Now, before you start bashing me, I do like Grizzly Bear, but their set put me to sleep. I needed some time to relax and they helped with that, but I found my eyes closing and they were nothing to brag about. If you want to see them live, just play their records really loud.

As I walked on back to the other side of the field, I was hearing some thumping bass riffs and loud sparking guitar at the BMI stage. I walked into the shaded area to discover the band The Royal Bangs. They were finishing their set and in the 10 minutes of seeing them on stage I was very impressed. Their sound was very reminiscent of early Kings of Leon but with a harder kick. Check these guys out. As I kept on walking after Royal Bangs, I saw a very distinct person walking along side me, it was Chrissy Hynde of the Pretenders! As I spoke very briefly to her, she was the special surprise guest at the Kidzapalooza stage and played a very beautiful unplugged set of her latest solo material. A great treat for the middle of the afternoon.

While I was catching all of these acts, corresponding writer Rich D Smoov was over in Perry's tent catching the Master of Ceremonies himself, Perry Farrell in action with Chris Cox. "Perry was great on the decks spinning, but it would really get hot when he covered his own songs from Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros," Rich D Smoov then added "Perry's wife came out with a massive amount of dancers and just proved why he is the best and worth making some time to see."

Rich D Smoov and I would meet up to catch AFI. I maybe sticking my neck out by saying this but they were easily the greatest band of the day. AFI were just simply on fire and back to their thrash punk roots. Singer Davy Havok looks like a goth version of Patrick Dempsey and Glen Danzing's love child (yes, you never thought you would ever hear those two names in a sentence together now did you), Havok would constantly break the fourth wall and jump and scream into the audience's faces and they loved every second of it. AFI would go hit after hit from "Days of the Phoenix," "Miss Murder," "Silver and Cold," "Love Like Winter," and "Beautiful Thieves." They can toss a greatest hits record out now and you would be pleased with the results. What an incredible band and I know they may have lost their credibility through the years, but I hope after performances like this they get it back. I was simply impressed.

Once my mind was blown with AFI, the legendary punkers Social Distortion took the stage. I have waited nearly 13 years to see this band and they did not disappoint. Mike Ness and crew opened with "Story of my Life," and went straight into a cover of the Rolling Stones classic "Under my Thumb." Ness was on fire with his guitar work and Social D just kept the momentum going. Classic hits like "Ball and Chain," "Don't Drag Me Down," would blend in perfect with new songs like "Reach for the Sky," and their latest "Still Alive." They were everything I wanted them to be and more, driving their point home with their cover of Johnny Cash's classic "Ring of Fire," Social D left every old school punk fan just begging for more.

After a short break it was onto seeing Slightly Stoopid. I never listened to this band, nor cared to listen to them, but I must say they know how to work a crowd. The LA band is a mix between Sublime and 311, so take it for what it is. The crowd just went crazy for them and it was great to see a bunch of kids let loose and crowd surf as if this was the last gig they would ever go to. As Stoopid played their last note, which came from covering Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings," Green Day would take the stage and ignite Lollapalooza into the heavens. The four time Lolla vets just brought their A game as they do every night and entertained the masses. With fireworks, pyro and great catchy songs, Green Day just did the usual. They have all really embraced being fathers and have realized that a majority of their audience now comes from kids with their parents, they (as usual) would invite teens and young kids on stage and turn it into a three-ring circus. As the first hour of their set relied heavily on their last two records, as the second hour hit, the SoCal punks through in their greatest hits and melodies of covers.

While I was at Green Day, Rich D Smoov was over at Perry's seeing Rusko. Rusko is a dubstep DJ who is trying to take the genre and bring it right to the mainstream. Dubstep has been huge overseas and is not finally getting some exposure thanks to Perry, "Rusko is the guy that can do it and will do it for dubstep to really happen in America."

Leaving Green Day early I went to see the hype behind Australia's Empire of the Sun. Empire was playing at Perry's and I must say, I felt like I wasted my time. You needed heavy drugs to truly enjoy Luke Steel's performance. Starting off strong with amazing costumes, flamboyant and bizarre dancers and great imagery, they lost it just three songs in. However, this great day was not a total bust as Phoenix was still on the second main stage doing their thing. I ran over to see the French neo-new wavers in action and they sounded great, played just fine, however, I really do not think they are ready for headlining status just yet. They maybe huge after last years Wolfgang Amedaous Phoenix, however, they do have an extensive back catalogue and starting at 8:30 and already saying goodbye's at 9:30 with "1901," it just seemed to odd and unfitting for this years festival with all of these heavy hitters. I am not saying they were bad, just odd men out.

Take a look at some pics from today:

Against Me!
Gogol Bordello
Chrissy Hyde
Social Distortion

Green Day

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