If you made it through the entire weekend while at the same time maximizing the number of bands you saw, I have to congratulate you for surviving Lollapalooza 2010. The true festival warriors are few and far between, and though the heat and crowds and loud music technically affects us all in some way or another, those who spent 11 hours a day on their feet over this past weekend deserve some serious kudos. Well done to you and everybody else, because yet another Lollapalooza is in the books and hopefully you had a blast. I did, and will go over the best and worst of the festival for you in a separate post that will also have plenty of photos. For the momeng though, let’s continue to savor what was the final day of the festival, Day 3, with a speedy recap as we’ve done with the first two days.
I needed just a little extra sleep heading into Sunday, as I’d been seriously killing myself with all the running between stages and off-the-hook aftershows (more on those later). But I made it to Lollapalooza Day 3 at about 1:30pm, shortly after some serious rain showers threatened to put a damper on the entire day. The good news is that the sun held up. So did The Dodos, who turned in a stirring early afternoon performance. Between the three guys on stage, they sure made a lot of racket, especially since 2 of them were on percussion. A personal highlight was their rendition of “Jodi”, which was almost pitch-perfect even if the crowd didn’t quite understand that.
Johnny Marr is still playing the role of guitarist in The Cribs, whose last album “Ignore the Ignorant” was far catchier and enjoyable than anybody could have reasonably expected. But Marr generally tears things up, both on that record and live, and though the crowd might have been a little sparse, everyone that was there seemed to have a great time. Things were kept generally light and airy as potential radio hit after potential radio hit breezed past our ears.
Much credit goes to Minus the Bear for knowing their audience. You might not have known it, but they opened for Soundgarden a couple days earlier at The Vic for their pre-Lollapalooza Chicago warm-up show Thursday night (I didn’t go, but a friend of mine did). But with all the clouds disappearing and the sun beating down hotter than ever, Minus the Bear stuck with mostly their high energy, poppier songs. In other words, many of the psychedelic leanings displayed on “Planet of Ice” were held at bay, though ice would have been really nice at that point.
One of my biggest challenges headed into Sunday was whether to see Yeasayer or X Japan. X Japan has been around for decades but has never played a show in the U.S. before. As I’ve seen Yeasayer a couple times already, I chose the unfamiliar act. Their set wasn’t very crowded, but especially at the front, hardcore X Japan fans really openly displayed their love for the band by dressing in costume, or just flying in from Japan where they’re a national treasure. Now I got a little snarky on Twitter about the band’s performance, but honestly it was very entertaining. That’s about all I was looking for, and they delivered, complete with overblown leather outfits, a gong, and pyrotechnics. They’re everything a stadium rock band could ask for, playing to a crowd of a few hundred. Their takeover of North America may not be as easy as they’re hoping it will be, but should they land some success, at least they’ll have the great show to back it up.
I’ve seen Frightened Rabbit 3 times now, and the first time was before I had heard any of their music. That performance, about 3-4 years ago, sold me on the band at which point I bought all their music. The second time I saw them they had been run ragged on tour for several months with no break, all the while partying a little too hard. Singer Scott Hutchinson’s voice was shot and it wasn’t very good. For Lollapalooza this year, the band was back in shape physically, but their set still had issues – the biggest of which was a lack of energy on stage. Even some of their most energetic tunes were left feeling a little flaccid in the hot summer sun beaming down. They couldn’t have turned up the tempo just a little? At least they seemed to largely pull from their best album to date, “Midnight Organ Fight” rather than their so-so new one “The Winter of Mixed Drinks”.
MGMT drew a huge crowd for their set, and that was to be expected. Apparently most people there just wanted to hear “Time to Pretend” and “Electric Feel” and “Kids” over and over again, because most seemed turned off by the highly psychedelic nature of MGMT’s performance. There were plenty who just gave up after 15 minutes, choosing to try and find greener pastures, or just some good food nearby. I arrived late with food in hand and stuck around long enough to finish my meal, though I couldn’t hear that well. I thought the guys did some nice work.
I may enjoy the new Temper Trap album more than MGMT’s latest (but not by much), which is why I left the latter to go see the former. With the smaller crowd at the smaller stage, Temper Trap really held things down well and got the crowd engaged with sing-along choruses. Of course “Sweet Disposition” came off best, but it was clear there are more potentially big hits we could be hearing more of in the coming months.
Finally, though virtually every one of my friends went to Arcade Fire, I chose Soundgarden with the idea that this could be one of those “once in a lifetime” situations. Having missed out on their shows in the 90’s, this was a big chance to finally see those classic songs played live. And Soundgarden did deliver, playing pretty much every song you might want to hear from them, unless that song is “Pretty Noose”. No worries though, because even when they weren’t doing big radio hits like “Spoonman” and “Blow Up the Outside World”, they tackled “Searching With My Good Eye Closed” and “Gun”. To be fair, the heaviest stuff tended to sound the best, especially the non-singles, but there was something to be said for those as well. “Outshined” was taken to the next level thanks to Chris Cornell coming off the stage and interacting heavily with the crowd of rabid fans. With his hair grown back out long and curly again, Cornell also looked pretty much exactly the same as he did in the 90’s, with that same voice to match. The set wasn’t without its flaws, like how the performance of “Black Hole Sun” seemed like the equivalent of pulling teeth to Cornell as he was probably only doing it because he HAD to. His frustration is understandable, but couldn’t he at least ACT like he still kind of liked the song? Also a small issue was the general attitude the band members had towards one another, which seemed to be the equivalent of a holiday family gathering of strangers. All four guys were there and playing to the best of their abilities, but in terms of interaction or to suggest there was any love between these guys, you could forget it. The question should then be raised: how long can this reunion last? Well, should they break up again tomorrow, I no longer care – seeing a Soundgarden show gets crossed off my Bucket List. I’ll have more details on this show and others in my final impressions of Lollapalooza 2010, which will be ready to go in the next day or two.