Photos are on the way Monday, but in the meantime, here’s a speedy recap of what went on (from my perspective) at Day 2 of Lollapalooza 2010.
The Morning Benders were more than a perfect way to start the day. Their lazy summer melodies just floated through the air and put smiles on faces. Closing with “Excuses”, Chris Chu builds his vocal harmonies one piece at a time via a looping pedal, and the result is exquisite to the point of singularly making it one of the festival’s highlights so far.
The Soft Pack were a little…soft when I saw them live last year, and for their big stage Lollapalooza debut they were again not very effective. The guys appear to be trying hard, and they’ve got the witty stage banter going, but somehow their songs still come off as lifeless and somewhat dull when they’re more exciting in recorded form.
The trio known as Harlem are an entertaining group of guys. Between a goofy t-shirt that features a girl in a bikini to some really funny stage banter, there’s plenty to love. And their songs are pretty damn good too, though they suffered a setback early on when a guitar string broke. No worries, they grabbed another one that apparently wasn’t prepped/tuned properly. They just kind of shrugged and kept going in delightful fashion.
Wild Beasts don’t make the most energetic songs, there’s a lot of quieter moments and a touch of psychedelia. While this should have turned off a lot of people in the band’s early afternoon set, instead there’s something about their performance that simply captivates in all the right ways. It may have been quiet, but it was nevertheless great.
Though they’ve seemed intent on becoming a mediocre band via their last two albums, Stars proves they still know how to put on a show. Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell bounce off one another easily while the other band members dance around on stage and shoot confetti into the crowd. It’s a bit exhilarating, and given that they played a generous portion of their older material, the set turns out nicer than expected.
The crowd was MASSIVE for The xx. At least it was at the start. Dressed in all black like they do, the band played mostly straight renditions of their album tracks, and on occasion the crowd would clap or dance along. Their minimalistic slow material shouldn’t have worked in this environment, but the crowd kind of forced it to. Then as the set continued people flocked out en masse. Too bad, there was a really rousing rendition of “Infinity” that included some frivolous cymbal banging.
Grizzly Bear are old pros by now. They’ve got their live sound pretty well down pat, and it’s nothing short of great. The way they handle the harmonies and balance out the set list with older and newer, lower energy and higher energy, is well played. So as nice as their set was, it met expectations but didn’t quite exceed them.
Emily Haines has always seemed destined for bigger things. Between her work in Broken Social Scene, as a solo artist and in Metric, she’s had her plate full and handled it all with style and grace. So it should come as no surprise that when Metric arrived on stage for their set, Haines went nuts on the crowd. She came out with such energy and positive vibes, backed by Metric’s upbeat and uptempo melodies. They ran through the highlights on their latest album “Fantasies”, and even slipped in their wholly incredible classic “Dead Disco” for good measure. The band seems destined for bigger and better things. This may have been the best set of the day.
Britt Daniel handles the first Spoon song all by himself with just an acoustic guitar for a friend. The band then emerges and proceeds to go through practically every one of their singles. They also pulled off a pretty dynamite cover of Wolf Parade’s “Modern World”. Normally Spoon don’t do a great job live, but this was by far the best I’ve ever seen them. Nice work.
For a total of about 5 minutes, I watched Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros perform a song. It was nice, but things were so insanely crowded over there that between the trees and people I couldn’t get a halfway good look at the stage. The one song I did hear performed was pretty decent, though it makes me think their entire set didn’t fare so well.
There are some very positive things to say about Green Day’s headlining set. There are also some very negative ones. Not getting into details here (you’ll have to wait for my final Lolla recap for that), but while it is great to hear you play the hits, must you extend every 3-minute song into an overblown epic? The chants and sing-alongs and detours are nice on occasion, but every time is a bit much. At the very least I was entertained by the sheer spectacle of it all, from the fireworks to the bringing fans up on stage, in many ways Green Day is a class act. More on this and other similar things on Monday.