Friday, August 3, 2012

Live Review - LOLLAPALOOZA Day 1

 The first day of Lollpalooza 2012 for us, and many traveling from the East Coast to the Windy City could have been dubbed “Black Friday.” An ordeal that took photographer RICH D SMOOV and myself from cancelled flights from New York to cancelled flights in New Jersey to boarding a plane to Boston just to switch to get to Chicago. What should have been us out in the field for the opening of the festival in the morning did not have us out in Grant Park until 6p.m. Needless to say, we made it and it was time to bash.

Arriving in the park just as Band of Skulls was on stage bringing their classic rock meets garage rock sound was a nice way to introduce the new year of the classic festival. While Band of Skulls held their own and drew a massive crowd at the Google Play stage, it was Passion Pit on one of the main stages that had nearly everyone in Grant Park looking to move and party. Passion Pit, who just released their latest record, Gossamer and cancelled a slew of shows due to singer Michael Angelakos “In order for Michael to continue to improve his mental health and complete a procedure," were on fire on stage for one of their rare live appearances of 2012. The Cambridge, Massachusetts band brought their colorful and vibrant dance-pop-electronica to Chicago and had an entire audience hell-bent on dancing up a storm in the heat moving and swaying together like one unit.  With all of the mental health improvements, Angelakos seemed to be having the time of his life. For any audiences’ sake that wants to see this band, we do hope he gets his head right soon and gets on the road to showcase the true talents.

Correspondent and photographer, RICH D SMOOV caught The Shins and said, “While they sounded good and brought a decent turnout to the Red Bull main stage, they do not do much as a live band that is impressive. In many ways, it was like listening to their records, just really loud.”

From Passion Pit it was then off to Perry’s tent to catch UK “Bro-step” / dubstep duo Nero who transcended musical boundaries and took the crowd to new places with their sonic collection of remixes, original material and mash-ups. With a brilliant and vivacious light show, that would have most DJs rely on darkness to expose, Nero had their bright lights pumping with the sun up and still were blinding enough that it did not even matter that the darkness had not fallen. While the pulse pounding beats of Nero had our teeth and bones rattling, it was time for M83. The French band drew one of the more impressive crowds of the evening and while they were heavy on material from their brilliant 2011 release, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, their performance was diminished by the poor sound coming from the speakers of the Sony stage. M83, who are known for amazing live sets, colorful lighting and most importantly good technical sounds to bring every blip, beat, and bop to life was brought down by the poor sound. As the crowd fought through it and still seemed to have a good time, it was “Midnight City,” that unsurprisingly got the most applause and attention.

While M83 was on, RICH D SMOOV caught DJ Zebo at the Playstation stage and said, “While he had a very small crowd, he did a nice mash-up set with an interesting live show that included scantily clad female dancers and women playing with power tools and rubbing them against iron underwear to make a spark effect. Needless to say, it was a fun and interesting set to watch.”

As all of the undercard bands of the day came to a close, it was time for “Black Friday” to take on a new meaning, as The Black Keys headlined the Red Bull stage, while the legendary Black Sabbath in their only U.S. concert appearance headlined the Bud Light Stage.

Starting off with The Black Keys, the mighty Akron, Ohio duo stuck to the basics and delivered a fan friendly set that was heavy on their latest records, El Camino and Brothers. The Keys have had a tremendous 2012, selling out Madison Square Garden twice, headlining Coachella and Lollapalooza and every festival in between, they seem as if the “rock star” status has not gone to their heads. Singer Dan Auerbach would thank the crowd for supporting them and coming out for the night to see them. As they went into their catalogue of catchy tunes and popular songs, they showcased massive fireworks to celebrate their brilliant year, it was across the park as Black Sabbath were showcasing a fire all their own. 
Playing the third and final show of their 2012 reunion and their only U.S. appearance, the iconic metal band from Birmingham, England, who have been struck with line-up changes, cancer battles and Ozzy’s antics, did not show any signs of slowing down. Sabbath brought chomping riffs that had them sounding like a custom Harley-Davidson, along with an energy that was unbelievable to deny, they clearly were the best band of the day and might be all weekend. Playing fan favorites like “Black Sabbath,” “War Pigs,” “Ironman,” and “Paranoid,” they went deep into their catalogue and played “The Wizard,” “Snow Blind, “Dirty Woman,” “Children of the Grave,” and “Sweet Leaf.” If you were a die-hard Sabbath fan or a causal listener, there was something for everyone. Even just to watch Ozzy Osbourne on stage waving his arms, headbanging and forcing the crowd to scream “Oy! Oy! Oy!,” it was a performance to savor. While Ozzy had everyone’s attention, it was guitarist Tony Iommi who had everyone’s heart. The guitarist, recovering from a recent bought with cancer, looked like nothing could stop or slow him down. Bassist Geezer Butler was passionately playing his axe with all the intensity and raw power he did when the band first started. While they were Bill Ward-less on the drums, the original three showed why this time, even if it really maybe their last, the reunion mattered. 
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