Lollapalooza: day three

Elle: For the most part, Sunday was a pretty big let down, thereby reaffirming my belief that Saturday was the best overall day. I got to the park early, only to learn that the band I came to see early (Office) had switched place with the Weakerthans, who canceled last minute. I got an opportunity to walk around a little bit before I saw one of my favorite acts of the day, Wild Sweet Orange.
Tommy: Waking up around 10 on Sunday, I found it frustrating getting to the festival so late. I walked into the entrance at 3. With no internet access in the morning to catch up with life, terrible phone service, and multiple groups of friends to keep track of, Lollapalooza did its best to suck you in and keep you away and out of contact with the real world. I guess that’s the point, but these inconveniences really made me late and ready for…Kanye? I guess…it was pretty obvious that day three was anti-climactic.

12:30-1:15 – Wild Sweet Orange

Elle: Perhaps it was the shady BMI stage, or that it was the first band of the day, but I thoroughly enjoyed Wild Sweet Orange. They were pure, guitar-driven rock, with a hint of their Birmingham, Alabama roots shining through. Preston Lovinggood (great name) worked hard the whole time to make sure the crowd was having a good time, and they definitely were. I picked up their brand new album, We Have Cause to be Uneasy, at the f.y.e. tent and was able to snag an autographed copy. Bonus!

1:15-3:15 – Office to Tally Hall to John Butler Trio

Elle: I had high hopes for Office, since I love their songs on record and they’re from Chicago, but they didn’t deliver. I’m not sure what it was exactly that made them difficult to get into, but it just didn’t work for me. I do recommend listening to their studio tracks, however.
Tally Hall annoyed me. I think the song “Good Day” is awesome, but they are just no good live.
And John Butler Trio – good musicians, boring songs. I don’t feel like listening to an eight minute drum solo while I’m standing outside in August.

3:30-3:35 – Black Kids vs. Chromeo

Elle: “Hey guys, come here, I have an idea. Let’s capitalize on this whole indie-music-is-so-in-right-now thing and make a band. You don’t really play music? Who cares! You look the part! Let’s just get a bunch of kids together and make you all look really cool, and we’ll make sure that someone remixes “Hurricane Jane” right away. Wait, what’s that? You can’t really sing? It doesn’t matter, you have an afro. Just sing in a quirky tone so no one can tell. Hey you, girl, come here before you go on stage. No, not you, the other one. Put this neon headband in your hair.”
Tommy: Finally, after meeting up with some people on Michigan, we made our way to Grant Park and went directly to the Myspace stage for dance duo Chromeo. David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel did a pretty good job keeping their songs live. Although they had prerecorded drum beats and other sounds, Macklovitch played guitar over the tracks while Gemayel covered keyboards, bass, and synthesizers. The crowd was great and danced throughout the whole set, but the duo still was only mildly interesting. With the harsh vocals of Black Kids bleeding into the Chromeo crowd from the Citi stage, it made Chromeo’s usually crisp sounding tunes more muddy – and pretty apparent to all of Grant Park that Black Kids were a mistake.

4:30-5:15 – Iron & Wine

Elle: Unlike Black Kids, Iron and Wine is always pleasant to see. Sam Beam’s songs shine live, especially when singing next to his sister. I was able to relax during this set and just enjoy the music. If you haven’t picked up a copy of The Shepherd’s Dog yet, do so.
Tommy: You can’t go wrong with Iron & Wine. What really fascinated me this time around wasn’t the set list, or the tunes themselves, but the great musicians Beam recruited to back him up. While the songs were simple, the band contributed with thick, unique textures through marimbas, tons of auxiliary percussion toys, and a great keyboardist to fill in the gaps. Sunday proved to be the best day for Iron & Wine as the crowd seemed to go for relaxation more than excitement throughout the sets. Perfect scheduling.

7:15-8:15 – The National

Elle: The National was the act I was looking forward to all day, and they were everything I had hoped they would be. Matt Berninger’s somber, baritone voice shone through perfectly. The National was the highlight of my day.
Tommy: You can’t really say much about The National’s live shows. They’re an amazing band but there’s something so intangible about their live performances that makes their songs captivating. With the usual haunting melodies and instrumentation, the crowd, although unjustly small, was in awe from beginning to end.

8:30-9:30 – Kanye West

Elle: Unlike the night before, I did not have an ulcer trying to figure out who I would see as the headliner tonight. Instead, it was more like the 2004 presidential election – I went to see the act I disliked less. I’m no Kanye fan, but I cannot get into Nine Inch Nails’ music. Either way, it was good to see Kanye’s light show, but every time he opened his mouth and wasn’t rapping, I got nervous. Either he would try to sing or he was going to say something extremely arrogant, both of which happened too frequently. I ended up leaving early, and as I was walking out, I heard a cover (with almost no modifications) of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”. Then I told myself I would never give Kanye the benefit of my time or money ever again.
And I don’t care what you say, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” kicks the pants off “Stronger”. The only good part of “Stronger” is the stuff that most closely resembles the original.
Tommy: My experience with Kanye was very similar to Elle’s. First of all, his performance two years before at Lollapalooza was much better. What I enjoy most about his live shows is his band; hip-hop groups really fascinate me the few times they are employed (over prerecorded samples) and they often are comprised of excellent musicians. Kanye cast his cronies in the dark this time around, and made sure they wore Daft Punk inspired masks to further detract the crowd’s attention from them. I also missed the string group the Kanye brought on stage last time.
Kanye, himself, drenched his vocals in reverb and other effects, making his lyrics cloudy and hard to follow. Nothing was articulated. The energy was there, however, and Kanye did a good job moving the crowd. With references to Chicago all over the place in his songs, it was easy to think that this was the time and place to see Kanye. I was also impressed with how much Kanye changed his songs structurally for his live performance.
I soon got exhausted of the Kanye hit parade and left early as well, right before his band’s cover of “Don’t Stop Believing.” Good job Kanye, but you should stop reminding me that you’re an asshole all night.

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