Just before heading to Grant Park I had the opportunity to speak with legendary Smith's and current Cribs guitarist Johnny Marr as he was heading to the park. Marr mentioned "Let's hope the weather clears up, its going to be a great fucking day," Marr would be one of the greatest ways to start off anyone's day and The Cribs would be the best band to kickstart the final stretch. Opening with "Hey Sceansters!" the brothers Jarmin along with Marr cracked like a whip. The Cribs as usual would not let up, with "Under the Same Skies" and deep cuts from EP's and records unreleased in America, they were just amazing. As the skies cleared for their set, Ryan James Jarmin said "This maybe the first festival we ever played and its not raining!" The set the tone for the rest of the day and we were ready to rock and roll.
From The Cribs I went on over to Mumford and Sons. The English folk rock band I have kept on my radar for a while, but I have been hearing how amazing their live sets were. The stage was so packed that I could not even see the band! It was remarkable! However, Mumford and Sons proved one of the most important things about music, if it is good, you do not need to see it but feel it. You could feel the power, intensity and vulnerability of this band through their powerful music. This band is destined for great things and I hope to see them again.
After Mumford I ran on over to catch Hockey. The Portland band had a great set in front of a handful of people last year but were cut short due to sound problems. This year in front of a couple thousand, Hockey really are a fantastic party starter. So much fun to see them, they even snuck in a few new songs, I can only assume we may have a new record from them sometime soon. After Hockey it was a mad dash to Violent Soho. The Australian grunge outfit and I have gotten close through the year as I was one of the first bloggers to cover them on their arrival to the States last fall. Speaking with drummer Michael Richards before their gig, Richards said "Lollapalooza is great and it has been a great weekend, one of the few festivals we are playing that we can see so many great bands and stick around all weekend." The band seemed to be enjoying every second of their 45 minute set. Like a bomb exploding they went off and the crowd turned into an all out mosh pit and the band played harder and faster than anyone all weekend. Singer Luke Bordem mentioned "We are Violent Soho and we are the only hard rock band here...aside from Against Me, AFI and Soundgarden," as the crowd laughed they just ripped it into high gear. Violent Soho officially made Chicago their bitch in less than an hour.
While I was covering Violent Soho, corresponding writer Rich D Smoov was over at Perry's Kids tent waiting for Perry Farrell and his special surprise guest. Rich D Smoov said "Don't ever count out the kid's tent, especially when Perry will be there, you never know what is going to happen." Rich was correct as Porno for Pyros made an impromptu reunion on the Kids stage. The children had no idea what they were witnessing but their parents loved every second of it. Porno for Pyros closed their small set with the Lou Reed cover of "Sweet Jane," creating a memory that parents only hope their kids will remember.
Right after that we reconnected at Mexican Institute of Sound at Perry's DJ tent. Mexican Institute of Sound were a fun act to catch mid afternoon, combining traditional Mexican music with heavy beats, it was something to be admired. After a small break it was on to see the legendary Erykah Badu. One of the few females and R&B acts at the festival this year, Badu was beautiful in both style and sound. Dressed as an Egyptian Goddess with a yellow mohawk, Badu found a way for the crowd to mellow out just a bit before the heavy hitters of the night would come on.
As Badu was in her final notes, Wolfmother started their set. The Australian act led by singer Andrew Stockdale just simply destroyed the audience from first note to last. In 60 minutes, bodies with broken limbs were carried out of the pit and rushed to the nearby ER. It was a crazy, loud, fast and rambunctious set that was heavy on the band's latest Cosmic Egg and played the heavy hitters such as "Woman" and "Joker and the Thief," from their debut. Wolfmother was easily the most impressive act of the day. I did not expect them to be very good or I should say as great as they were, my jaw was on the floor with how great they truly were.
Once Wolfmother wrapped I ran on over to see The National. One of my favorite live acts and like Mumford and Sons earlier in the day packed the stage and if you were caught in the back your vantage point was minimal. However, in true National fashion singer Matt Berninger spent most of the final parts of the set away from the stage and in the crowd screaming the words to "Abel" and "Mr November," while the two sets of brothers jammed on stage. For a number of songs, the band was joined by longtime friend and Arcade Fire member, Richard Reed Perry joined them on guitar for some of the new songs from The National's latest, High Violet. The National are getting to the point in their career that they can easily start headlining festivals such as this and after seeing them so many times, I know they are capable of doing it.
While I was at The National, Rich D Smoov was covering Cypress Hill. The legendary smoke fest hip-hop group had a combination of latin congas, live DJ scratching, and a three foot bong. The band's set would dip into classic cuts like "Hits from the Bong," "Insane in the Membrane," "How I Could Just Kill a Man," and new songs from their latest Rise Up. The biggest surprise from their set came when Erykah Badu closed out Cypress' set by rapping the face of the crowd and not letting go.
As the night would be split among the old and the new, I had to split the headliners and it killed me. It really was the hardest decision all weekend to cut the phenomenal Arcade Fire and reunited Soundgarden short, however it had to be done to cover all bases and really drive the final day home. Starting off with the ever amazing Arcade Fire, the beginning of their set was exactly how their gigs at Madison Square Garden started off and their was no problem at all to it. Only staying for a short amount of time, I knew what lied ahead as they were just warming up. I am glad I had the chance to see this band three times this week (Both Garden gigs and tonight), or else it would have been even more painful to leave them as the fire was starting. However, I knew Soundgarden awaited me, so much so that Soundgarden may go down as the loudest band in the history of Lollapalooza as Chris Cornell's voice and Ben Shepard's bass overpowered Arcade Fire at points. It was time to go.
It was onto Soundgarden, who after 14 years are finally back together. A band some critics poised to be the next Led Zeppelin are hopefully going to see this reunion through. As I got to their side, they were just kicking into "Burden in my Hand," and the rest of the night was a blast off. According to Rich D Smoov, Soundgarden also played "Jesus Christ Pose," "Rusty Cage" and "Spoonman" earlier in their set. By the time I was their it was heavy deep cuts and rarities that hardcore fans of the band had been waiting for. The biggest applause would come from "Black Hole Sun," which should come as no surprise to anyone. However, I would have never envisioned the band to be as loud and ferocious as they were. They were essential hard rock and it pulsated through the eyes and chest of the audience. Cornell, who I will always say is one of the greatest voices in rock history, has not lost his touch. Guitarist Kim Thayil shredded like a machine, Shepard's bass was pounding and drummer Matt Cameron (Pearl Jam) just proved why he was the best in the business, now in two band's Cameron is going to have a busy few years ahead of him. It may have been over a decade since these guys have played together, but you would never know. They were tight and just that good, but that is what happens when you have chemistry and are a seasoned musician. It is going to be fantastic to see what happens next with them and if this reunion really lasts.
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