Monday, August 6, 2012

Lollapalooza Coverage - Day One: Friday, August 3

Wow what an interesting opening day. Fans packed in early despite the scorching hot temperatures (somewhere around a 105 degree heat index out on the Grant Park baseball diamonds), but if you were expecting weather to prevent thousands of people from enjoying this great lineup, you would be dead wrong -- more than once this weekend.

I started it off right by getting in to the grounds quickly and heading straight to see Yellow Ostrich (for the second day in a row, YO played the night before at Turner Hall in Milwaukee); gotta show some love for the fellow Wisconsinites whenever possible. It doesn't hurt that this band is really (really) good. They put together a great show, complete with looping vocals, brass instruments and a very fun energy to their set. Things got really interesting when lead singer Alex Schaff allowed a gentleman out from backstage to propose to his girlfriend. Luckily, she said "Yes." Although Alex joked that had she said "No," it would have turned in to a great viral video that could have helped the band gain notoriety.

Following Yellow Ostrich, it was on to the neighboring Red Bull Soundstage for Dr. Dog. I only caught two songs, as I was incredibly interested in checking out The War On Drugs, but the two songs I caught were great ("Shadow People" and "These Days").

Things got interesting at this point, as Lolla has nearly doubled it's festival grounds since I've last been here. So I walked to the stage I had thought was TWOD was playing, at the opposite end of the festival grounds. Turns out it was The Black Angels that were playing the Bud Light stage. Not the worst mistake I could have made, as The Black Angels rattled off a few of their dark and grungy sounding tracks. Finally found a map (which did not leave my possession after) and made my way to the Google Play stage to catch The War On Drugs final song, who completely lived up to the hype surrounding their live sets.
Die Antwoord (photo credit: Matt Ellis)

Metric played the first "great" set I saw, at around 4 p.m. at the Bud Light stage. They absolutely shredded their instruments, perfectly in sync with one another. And Emily Haines' voice sounded great. As their set came to a close, I began itching with excitement: Die Antwoord was up next at the neighboring Playstation Stage.

And holy hell. They melted my face with pure unabashed "ZEF" - hip-hop backed by electronica spun by DJ Hi-Tek. Including multiple outfit changes and Hi-Tek's "melted face" mask, Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er rocked the stage and got the crowd moving more than any band I had seen yet. Tracks like "Baby's on Fire" and "I Fink U Freeky" did nothing short of entertain.

Passion Pit (photo credit: Dave Mead)
Passion Pit was up next at the Bud Light stage, which was just a quick hop away from the stage I was at for Die Antwoord. I will not lie, I was incredibly excited for their set, but Passion Pit sounded a little off. I don't know if it was the sound or the band itself, but they were not at the peak of their skills and sounded out of sync. The set was packed with great tracks, and a lot of the songs sounded really good. "Carried Away" and "Sleepyhead" sounded great, but portions of the set (like "The Reeling") came up a little short of expectations.

Hands down, M83 stole the show on Friday. The French foursome played a surprisingly "rock" set, despite being known as an electronic band. Groups like that who play more electronic music in studio, but absolutely throw down on stage; equipped with live drums, guitars, keys, and samples, M83 proved to be a power house Friday night, completely living up to whatever hype has been buzzing around the group the past year or so. I will say this, however, what is with people just up and leaving after a band plays "the hit?" After M83 played "Midnight City" three-quarters of the way through their set, a large number of kids just up and left. I'm sorry, but were you not entertained by the rest of the show? I'm just being bitter, I suppose, but there was no way I was going to leave this show, especially with the awesome guitarist doing an innovative Running Man/Moonwalk-combo dance.

M83 (photo credit: Matt Ellis)
Red Bull Stage headliner The Black Keys wrapped up Friday night's craziness. And frankly, I was not as excited for the Keys as I was for a vast majority of the other talent Friday. Due mainly to the disappointment felt after they played The Bradley Center in Milwaukee earlier this year, I was a little wary about seeing The Black Keys again.

However, I can now say that the disappointment felt earlier this year, was based solely on the venue, because Dan Auerbach, Patrick Carney and company absolutely killed their set. There weren't too many surprises, but the Keys were great, playing songs new and old, and even having a little section of their set dedicated to just Auerbach and Carney knocking out a duo "mini-set", just like they used to do. To me, these were the glory years of The Black Keys; Rubber Factory is one of my favorite records of all time. It was good to see that the guys still got it; I'm back on board, and was pretty foolish for ever thinking about doubting them. Check out their performance of "Howlin' For You" from Friday night below.

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