Lollapalooza | 08.03.08

fest_lolla_sm.gifI decided not to walk the mile to The National, one of the decisions I kind of kick myself for now, especially in light of the Boxer-heavy set.







Grant Park, Chicago

Day 3

The laws of diminishing values are heavily applied to these types of exhausting festivals, and on Sunday I skipped out on catching Kid Sister and the Weakerthans. At 2:15, the Brazilian Girls kicked off Sunday fairly well, showcasing tunes from their new LP, DFKSJ. "Pussy" was the natural highlight, though the group’s electronic-tropical-atmospheric rock and singer Sabina Sciubba’s peculiar stage presence was what made their set pretty good as a whole

Chromeo, for some reason, drew the biggest crowd; leaving their set early was more difficult to slip out of than Wilco, Radiohead and Girl Talk. Before the band came on stage, audience members did the Chromeo Chant. While I only stayed for three or four songs before switching over to the Black Kids, the vocalist of the Montreal/New York duo came off extremely cocky, and their songs all sounded the same: equally bad. (I wouldn’t give them such a hard time if they weren’t so popular at Lolla.)

Although Pitchfork goes a bit overboard in their distaste for the Black Kids’ non-Wizard of Ahhhs album tracks from the band’s recently released debut, all four of the best songs were the Wizard cuts. Ali Youngblood really comes to life live, especially when she is on lead during "Look at Me (When I Rock Witchu)." The Citi Stage put somewhat of a damper on the Black Kids, as sound quality was poor and watching from the sidewalk is never as fun as the field. The Black Kids’ "My Christian Name" was a new one to me.

Next up was Iron & Wine, a band that I have almost seen several times, and one of the bands I was glad to finally get to see. I was most pleased to hear the near-solo Sam Beam "Upward and Over the Mountain," one of the band’s best, though one I thought was perhaps too slow even for Iron & Wine to play live. I tend to favor lyricism over anything else; however, I am still as truly impressed each time I hear songs from the masterpiece, The Shepherd’s Dog; seeing the songs performed live with such ease made it a real treat. Not much talking in between songs and not a whole lot of moshing.

I regrettably walked past Flogging Molly’s tempting Irish punk, though I have never been much of a fan. Instead, I made the poor choice of Saul Williams, who besides "List of Demands" and a few others, does not impress me. Many waited there for the ensuing Girl Talk performance, but I headed to the mainstage to see Gnarls’ Lolla return.

Gnarls Barkley went with the School of Rock wardrobe, I believe, in which Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse played the Jack Black teacher role. The backing band was great, complementing Cee-Lo’s unusual(ly awesome) voice with nice harmonies. The band duplicated Radiohead’s "Reckoner" incredibly well, and Cee-Lo’s take on the song made a lot more sense than the original to me; the song ignited a roar from the crowd and a lot of chatter — in addition to perhaps the biggest story at the festival. The rest of the material drew from the best from both albums: "Crazy" "Smiley Faces," "Just a Thought" and "Gone Daddy Gone" from St. Elsewhere, and "Surprise," "Whatever," "Going On" and "Blind Mary" from the awesome Odd Couple. Certainly less of a party than Girl Talk, though on the whole, I would imagine better.

I decided not to walk the mile to The National, one of the decisions I kind of kick myself for now, especially in light of the Boxer-heavy set, but I was able to catch a good portion of the variety plate that was Mark Ronson’s slot within a reasonable, viewable position for a Kanye West close. Ronson’s set included guests Kenna, Alex Greenwald, Daniel Merriwhether and Candie Payne, and noteable covers "Eleanor Rigby," "Toxic," "DANCE" and "Valerie."

Kanye West is not my favorite rapper by a long shot (though I do like his music and he is good), but I haven’t seen enough big-time performers in the hundreds of shows I’ve been to. West strung together 90 minutes of familiar cuts, the most bizarre being Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believing" (Kanye sat this one out, but grooved too), and the festival-appropriate verse from his spot in Young Jeezy’s "Put On." His stage-banter cockiness provided loads of entertainment as well. The nicest moments were the tribute to his late mother, for which his hometown fans cheered, the biggest ovation coming on "Hey Mama." I am especially not a fan of vo-cutters, T-Pain’s mainline, which Kanye foolishly used counteractively during the serious and sincere "Hey Mama." "Stronger" was used for the intro and the outro. Afterward, fans pushed over the fence for the final time, clogged the streets and public transportation, and by Monday morning normalcy resumed. | Joseph O’Fallon

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