Lollapalooza | 08.01.08

fest_lolla_sm.gifWhile The Kills may have made some new friends, I will not accept that any band came nearly as close as increasing their fanbase as Gogol Bordello did.




Grant Park, Chicago

Day 1

If only all months could begin this awesomely. You know you are in the midst of an amazing festival when on Day One you have to skip out on Rogue Wave, Yeasyaer, Jeff Tweedy, The Black Keys, Mates of State, Grizzly Bear, Bloc Party, the Cool Kids and a good portion of the Raconteurs and CSS.

The first quasi-big-time band to rock Lollapalooza was the Black Lips; a band capable of drawing larger crowds and one deserving of a more primetime slot. However, the Lips’ blistering ’60s-garage throwbacks and festival-friendly bizarreness made for a brilliant start to the day. Relying on their poppier, more familiar numbers, their noon set opened with "Lean," and featured "O Katrina!" "Bad Kids," "Dirty Hands" and "Fairies." The true Black Lips fans in the audience, which seemed to be a pretty big portion, were treated to the lesser-known "Make It." Although the Black Lips didn’t piss or vomit on the audience (funny that this needs to be noted), there was a small but noteworthy makeout between both guitarists.


In one of the few free hours of the following 72 hours, before the Go! Team took stage at 2:15, I caught the end of Willy Joy’s Lollapalooza-oriented sampling; I ventured to the other end to see one of Rogue Wave’s best, "Every Moment"; and I watched the Radiohead crowd begin to accumulate seven hours in advance.

Fans who (wisely) chose to see the Go! Team instead of Yeasayer were certainly not cheated. The Bud Light Stage was filled with MC Ninja’s high-energy cheerleading and her five bandmates who rocked two drum sets, and everything from a penny whistle to keyboards with pre-recorded trumpet lines. "Huddle Formation" was a natural highlight, but the band’s ability to make studio-version duds come out incredible live was impressive — most notably on "A Version of Myself," sung through an adorable Asian accent. The Go! Team’s performance greatly increased my appreciation for the band, and their 13-song live show was truly a good time

Hustling over to The Kills, perhaps the best straight-up rock band from the 100-plus band line-up, the duo cranked out a solid set comprised primarily of material from their 2008 essential, Midnight Boom. The absence of "Cat Claw" was again a bummer, but The Kills did pull out a few older numbers including "Fried My Little Brains," Pull a U," Kissy Kissy" and the much-improved live "Cheep and Cheerful." Although The Kills were scheduled to play for another 20 minutes, the band left the crowd little to complain about. The Kills seem to be a band that never has an off night, and they were sure to make some new fans of the wandering festival-goers among Grant Park.

The Kills ending early gave me time to skip over to Gogol Bordello and secure a good spot for the most festival-oriented, entertaining acts of the weekend. While The Kills may have made some new friends, I will not accept that any band came nearly as close as increasing their fanbase as Gogol did. Bordello’s song choice had only the slightest bearing on how much fun each song was; the stage was a circus, each song was a rollercoaster of buildups, solos and clap-along breakdowns. Pulling away from any of the band members or gypsy dancers was difficult, but your best bet would be to stick with Eugene Hutz’s nonstop hour of entertainment. "Start Wearing Purple" may have been one of the best due to its fan familiarity, but "Global Connection" was the song I starred in my notes to check out when I got home. Be sure to check out a YouTube video and the band’s next performance, and consider my friend’s hilarious observation: "Can you imagine rehearsing these songs?" Gogol Bordello, by means of accordion solos and just about everything else, puts the incredible live Man Man to shame.

Cat Power seemed like a nice change of pace, with Chan Marshall leading one of the more serious acts of the day’s schedule; however, the letdown from Gogol and the (sorry to say) boringness was too much to overcome. The live show was a continuation of the awful Jukebox, Power’s newest covers album that failed with way too well-known choices and much too slow renditions. After suffering through CCR’s "Fortunate Son," I got in line for The Raconteurs. The set did sound better later on, and the set list finished strong with the more interesting "Tracks of My Tears," and four of the best from the amazing The Greatest.

Besides Jack White’s "Five on the Five," I could also do without the new Raconteurs’ disc; however, I still took a chance on seeing them because of the White Stripes ties (my favorite band) and the excitement of seeing Jack White any chance I get. Regardless, the band does consist of four pretty amazing instrumentalists. My plan was to stay for the first hour of their 100-minute set, hoping for a cool cover selection and the key Broken Boy Soldiers tracks near the beginning. I was met halfway, forced to tolerate "You Don’t Understand Me," "Old Enough," "Consolers of the Lonely" and "The Switch and the Spor," but introduced to a better-than-expected cover of St. Louis’ own Charley Jordan’s clever number, "Keep It Clean." The good times were short-lived; however as "Rich Kids Blues," a song in which the title speaks for itself, came on, I headed for south for CSS.

I watched Lovefoxxx teach the audience a few dance moves and lead CSS through the awesome "Paris Hilton," but unfortunately had to move on to catch Stephen Malkmus and his Jicks after only 15 minutes. I was sorry to pass up the Cool Kids, but chose to see my first Jicks’ performance instead. I was able to get near front row for Malkmus with ease, as nearly everyone crowded the other side of the field for the lone Radiohead performance.

Stephen Malkmus played it safe, going mostly with his superb new disc, Real Emotional Trash, interjecting "Pencil Riot." I am not much of a fan of extended jams or guitar solos in general, but the lengthy Jicks’ solos were all tasteful and backed beautifully with Sleater-Kinney/Quasi (now full-time Jick) drummer Janet Weiss ensuring that things rarely go wrong. Weiss was unable to save Malkmus from forgetting a few of his lyrics, which added an amusing element. Hearing "Gardenia" was a treat that I didn’t think would get played, and on the whole, the set was flat-out good.

The night ended with some band that I think was called Radiohead, or something like that…some English band that over a hundred people clapped for.

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