Saturday, August 4, 2012

Live Review - LOLLAPALOOZA Day 2

 If day one of Lollapalooza was considered “Black Friday,” day two could have been called “Mother Natures Wrath.” With any outdoor event, no matter how good or bad the headliner or main event may be, the only thing taking center stage is the weather and there is no disputing that.

As the second day of the legendary festival kicked off the sweltering heat was so unbearable that no matter how much water you drank, it just came out of your pours immediately. Starting the day we caught JEFF the Brotherhood, the Nashville, Tennessee, garage rock band simply were fast and furious. As they engaged the crowd during their high octane set, the heat was too much to handle, but that did not stop anyone from having as much fun as they physically could. From the fantastic JEFF the Brotherhood, it was into the shade at the BMI stage for Moon Taxi. The jam band sent out the positive vibes to crowd that was enjoying and relaxing their Earthy sound.

From rock and jam it was onto R&B and soul with Aloe Blacc. The modern soul singer has a voice that is simply stunning and enough to just kept impressing as his set went on. The “I Need a Dollar” singer was drenched in his own sweat within seconds of his set, but did not stop him from delivering his all. It is nearly a travesty that he is not bigger than what he is. As Blacc’s sets came to a close, it was Neon Indian who came on across the field. The popular artist within the blogosphere and hipster-sphere drew an impressive crowd, but size did not matter, their performance, sound, and music were simply terrible. Much like MGMT’s 2008 Lollapalooza set that raised more questions than answers in their popularity, Neon Indian’s was doing the same thing. Yet, as Neon Indian and every other artist during the 3p.m. hour were, it was brought to the crowds attention that they had to evacuate the field due to an impending storm.

From the massive heat to torrential rain, thunder and lightning, the day and mood shifted. As the security and personnel of Lollapalooza brilliantly handled the evacuation of all of those people, it was the waiting game for the next three hours for this storm to pass. At 5:30, it was Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers who first confirmed that his band were playing, then Santigold, then Franz Ferdinand and before anyone knew it, the news spread like wildfire across the web. By 6p.m., the doors reopened and it was time to resume the party.

Walking back in it was an immediate run to catch England’s Skream & Benga. The British drum and bass meets “bro-step” / dubstep group were the perfect way to get the party and crowd back on their feet and forget about the rain. The Magnetic Man duo brought along an emcee who hyped up the audience as their samples and beats just hit everyone hard in the chest. From EDM it was then onto world sounds with tUnE-yArDs. The rising buzz band brought forth sounds from Latin, South American, and Middle Eastern influence and mixed it with jazz and folk – a nice blend for the evening. In the same field as tUnE-yArDs the crowd gathered for The Weeknd. The Canadian producer, singer, beat maker and Drake favorite started off furious with an entire audience eating out of the palm of his hand and begging for more. The Weeknd, who rose to fame in 2011 releasing a series of free mixtapes and working with top acts like Drake, has only been playing concerts since April of this year. Backed by a very talented band, The Weeknd were showing that they were doing this a lot longer than a few months, but as their set reached a half-way point, it was evident that they were novices to the concert and live performance scene. With some more shows under their belt, they have such great potential to be a brilliant live act.

As The Weeknd came to an end, one of the most anticipated reunions of the year happened – Bloc Party graced the stage and were welcomed with open arms to a very excited crowd. Opening with a brand new song off their forthcoming record, Four, it was then into favorites from their brilliant debut, Silent Alarm that had everyone’s excitement amplified. While the band has dabbled in everything from Britrock to electronica, the new songs off Four sound like a hybrid of everything they have done through the years. Singer Kele Okereke had a smile from ear to ear and was dancing around on stage as if he was a headliner. Okereke constantly thanked the audience for their support over the years and even made reference to their disastrous 2008 Lolla appearance and apologized for what had happened five years ago. Yet, with the past behind them, songs from A Weekend in the City and Intimacy, along with new tracks, Bloc Party’s hour long set only had everyone begging for a longer set.

While Bloc Party was on stage, correspondent RICH D SMOOV caught fellow Britrockers, Franz Ferdinand and said, “they were good but a very basic Franz set. Nothing new and nothing spectacular.” He then went to catch Washed Out and said, “They had a nice set of lo-fi pop and had the crowd into it.” It was then off to Calvin Harris who “did a nice mix of popular songs and his own material. Much like Swedish House Mafia at MSG, it was something for everyone in the EDM scene.”

While everything from the undercard began to wrap up, it was time for the headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avicii, Santigold and Frank Ocean.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers drew the biggest crowd of the weekend thus far and the Lolla vets may have had power in numbers, but should look to some of the newcomers as their set was not only disappointing but also embarrassing. Opening with “Monarchy of Roses,” off their latest I’m With You, singer Anthony Kiedis’ voice sounded out of pitch and guitarist Josh Klingoffer’s guitar work is just a display as to how he is a poor mans John Fruscante. As the band went into their hits from “Around the World,” and “The Otherside,” Kiedis began forgetting words and would mistime his entry into the songs. This is something new bands do not even do; let alone Rock and Roll Hall of Famers who are playing classic tracks. Yet, one thing remained constant during their set and that was Flea and his talents have outgrown his band now more than ever.

While the Chili Peppers were proving why they need to call it quits, Avicii was across the park bringing an EDM party like no other and RICH D SMOOV was there to witness it. “He had a massive face, almost like the Phantom of the Opera, on stage as his actual stage and he played where the brain would be and delivered a very, very impressive set.”

As all of this was happening, Santigold was over in Perry’s and showing off why she deserved a late night spot. On a stage filled with backup dancers and a live band, Santi was pure gold, pure fun and pure energy. The only massive disappointment of her set was the sound, either her mic was low or the soundmixer did not have the proper gear for an actual singer after dealing with DJ’s the last two days, but the quality of volume and decibels were very low, but that did not stop Santi from putting on a great show.

Then, the final act of the night would be Odd Future’s crooner, Frank Ocean. Ocean, who just released his brilliant debut, Channel Orange, was celebrating with a packed crowd at the Google Play stage that had women in tears, men chanting and everyone applauding him as he talked about coming out of the closet, his life and his dreams. Ocean did not do much in his intimate stage setting, but he did not have to, he has a voice that is simply unique and brilliant to hear and as an artist he knows how to appeal to various crowds. Playing tracks off Channel Orange as well as covering Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing” and singing his verse off Jay-Z and Kanye’s “Made in America,” Ocean was the clear star of the whole day. If he continues to play the cards that have been dealt to him they way he has, he will have a long and prosperous career ahead of him.