Monday, August 6, 2012

Live Review - Lollapalooza Day 3

The swan song of Lollapalooza 2012 will go down as one of the most epic and heavy days in the history of the festival since it has landed in Chicago. After a three-hour delay due to weather the day before, Mother Nature cooperated and closed out the weekend in fine fashion.

Starting the day off early, it was up close and personal with Nashville, Tennessee’s Mona. The band made their Lollapalooza debut and admitted being hungover from the night before, but it did not stop them from delivering one of the best sets of the day. The band, who are no stranger to this site, opened with “Teenager” to a half filled crowd at the Playstation stage, yet, within minutes, the audience came trickling in and only fueled the fire for the bands energy to go even higher. In the 45-minutes Mona were on stage they certainly made new fans and justified every ones reasoning for coming out early.

From Mona it was on to the Red Bull main stage to catch Britain’s Bombay Bicycle Club for some fun in the sun. The buzz band brought their jingle-jangle sound to the afternoon crowd and showed off their skills as to why they are becoming one of the most talked about bands back home. As soon as their set ended, it was Policia who took to the Sony stage. Policia brought a very mellow lo-fi sound to the stage and was mainly good background music for those looking to get a tan. We kept it moving back to Playstation stage for The Devil Makes Three, whose traditional Americana folk sound would have made anyone from the glory days of Sun Studio smile. As The Devil Makes Three came to a close, it was Brooklyn’s White Rabbits who drew an impressive audience and seemed to be having a blast bringing their East Coast indie sound to the Midwest.

While all of the traveling through the park to see a hefty amount of bands in a handful of hours, it was time for The Walkmen to flex their muscle to a very crowded Sony stage. The New York / Philadelphia indie band were a great live act especially coming off the bands we had covered earlier in the day. The dapper five-piece outfit packed a majority of their hour long set with songs off their fantastic last two records, 2010’s Lisbon and this years Heaven. While watching the band play, all that could cross my mind was how are these guys not bigger.

As The Walkmen came to a close it was Iceland’s Sigur Ros who delivered one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring sets of the whole weekend. Jonsi and the boys were backed by a full horn and string section that simply enhanced their cinematic and layered sound perfectly live. Mixing classical music, hard rock, jazz, electronica and at points metal, Sigur Ros blended it all together to show the type of band and musicians that have had them popular around the world for nearly two decades. Using violin bows across their guitars, drum sticks on their basses and switching instruments for nearly every song, it became evident that talent not only runs through every person in this band but it is talent and a vision as sharp as theirs that will make you not care they are singing in their native tongue but showcase that music is our universal language. As their hour-long set grew deeper and more complex, it was phenomenal to hear the band evolve in sound right before our eyes. As ethereal and Earthy images were projected across the screens and blended in with live footage of the band on stage, it only made us wish they were playing as the sun was setting only to enhance the bands live show even more. 

From the world sounds of Sigur Ros it was time to switch things up and go onto the New Jersey punks, The Gaslight Anthem. The band, who are Lolla vets and played on what is now The Red Bull main stage in 2009, played the very small and intimate Google Play stage and surprisingly got less than an hour to perform. While bands that have been around less time and artists who have less in their locker were at larger stages and had more time to play, it had many, including us, scratch our heads. Nevertheless, Brian Fallon and the boys did not disappoint and proved their popularity as fans were climbing in trees to see them play since it was a packed sea of humanity surrounding the stage. Playing a fan friendly set of songs off their latest, Handwritten and American Slang and The ’59 Sound, they gave just a taste and flavor as to what this band is about. As their set came to a close, Fallon, who had a smile from ear-to-ear closed and appreciated the audience size in front of him, would lead his band in closing with U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For.”

While all of this was happening, correspondent RICH D SMOOV caught blind African musicians, Amadou and Mariam. He said, “It was a traditional set of upbeat African music that was filled with so much rhythm.” From there, for SMOOV it was off to Toro Y Moi, “Another lo-fi pop band that was decent and very creative.”

As the evening was settling in, it was time for a band that many never thought they were ever get a chance to see in concert – At The Drive-in. The El Paso, Texas, post-hardcore / punk outfit reunited earlier this year after over a decade apart and brought the filth and fury to Grant Park for the first time. In an ironic twist, it was this band who rose to fame after being signed to Beastie Boy’s label, Grand Royal, that they would play on what would be late Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch’s birthday. As Danzig’s “Mother” came across the PA system and the band walked out on stage, singer, Cedric Bixler-Zavala introduced them as “Latin Danzig,” and immediately got a laugh from the crowd. Playing as if they were never apart for so long, it was a brilliant comeback and welcomed return for this band to create their unique and spitfire sound again. Opening with “Arcarsenal,” the band brought forth their arsenal of sound and unleashed on the crowd who went, simply, apeshit. Cedric, who representing Chicago wore an ironic Sears Tower shirt and had his hair in an afro, was a Mexican jumping bean on stage, diving off the drum riser and grabbing the mic stand and viciously screaming his lungs out into it, it was a sight to be seen. As the band went on, it was technical difficulties that held back a portion of their set, but Cedric took to the mic like stand-up comic to entertain, it was something to pass the time before they broke out again into song. Combining songs from In/Casino/Out and their brilliant final record, Relationship of Command, it was everything any fan could have ever asked for. Guitarist Jim Ward had a smile on his face like it was Christmas morning, bassist Paul Hinojos and drummer Tony Hajjar were perfectly in synch with each other and brought forth one of the tightest rhythm sections of the weekend. Yet, guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez or “The Puerto Rican Woody Allen” as Cedric called him, did not seem into what was happening, he played and sounded great but while everyone seemed to have fun, he looked very serious. Nonetheless, it was a set that will be remembered and embraced over time, especially with their final song, “One Armed Scissor,” the crowd would only beg for more by the time their hour-long set was done. A mark of a true achievement, now lets hope they stick around longer.

Once At the Drive-in ended, Sweden’s dance-rock sensations Miike Snow came on at the Sony stage. Sounding perfect and bringing in a crowd that were dancing their asses off, Miike Snow were doing a fine job at entertaining for what they are worth. While many of their songs sound similar, it was their massive hit “Animal” that stood out for nearly everyone in attendance. It would be a shame if this band were to become a “one-hit wonder,” since they really knows how to get a party going.

While the sun began to set and time for the headliners to go on, it was another night for fans to choose. Jack White, Kaskade, Childish Gambino and Justice were the ones to choose from.

Jack White took the Red Bull stage and was the first of the four headliners to go on. Opening with his all-male band and “Sixteen Saltines” from his solo debut, Blunderbuss, White had a massive crowd that varied in age and range who were there to see the now iconic axeman and former White Stripes frontman. White, who clearly knows how to entertain and get a crowd going proved why he was a fine choice as a headliner, even with one record under his belt. While White may be new to the solo scene, he incorporated tracks from The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather and eventually brought out his all-female band to change things up within his set.

While so much was going on, we skipped out on Kaskade to see a bit of Childish Gambino. The rapper and alter-ego of actor, Donald Glover, played the Google Play stage and like Frank Ocean the night before, had people cramming in to see the poplar emcee. Rapping about his life, work and coming up in Hollywood system, Gambino had hands in the air and heads bopping to his words and work. Yet, while his intensity and energy filled that stage, it was the pulsating sounds of France’s Justice that were calling.

Going on over to the Bud Light stage, the Parisians everyone in awe of what they were doing. Unlike most EDM artists of the weekend, Justice are different, their sound is something you can dance to but it is more than that, it combines pop, metal, Euro trance and 80’s throwbacks that are remixed and reimaged live right before the crowds eyes. The duo took a stadium style sound and threw it in the middle of a field, playing in front of a LED screen and behind their signature cross and a wall of Marshall amps like metal band would, yet, the trick was their amps had LED screens in front that would go off with the LED screen behind them. As the beats were laid in hard, it felt like you were operating a jackhammer listening to them. As their cross in the center of the stage lit up and became the centerpiece for everything they did, the duo were simply transporting the crowd to new places and places that not even any designer drug could take them. With tricks that saw plastic pipes rise around them to look like an organ and their mixing station separating to showcase a piano, it was far from the button-pushing stigma that DJ’s have gotten over the years, this was live, this was organic and most of all, this was two guys having the time of their lives delivering one of the most epic sets in the history of this festival.

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