Monday, August 06, 2007

Lollapalooza: 2007.08.06 Grant Park, Chicago Review – Part 2

Here we go with Part 2 of the review – Saturday's lineup. Our day started with Tokyo Police Club, a band that is starting to receive some buzz from the indie rock community, so I thought I’d check them out. I found them to be fairly interesting, certainly worth a closer look, but I also felt that they weren’t ready to quite play to such a big audience on such a big stage. They looked like a child who put on daddy’s shoes – something didn’t quite fit.

After their short set, we turned around to catch the set by Tapes 'n' Tapes, another band that has gotten some buzz in the indie rock community. After their first few songs, I was scratching my head wondering why that was – I heard nothing too interesting. However, I took back my words when I heard the second half of their set, which featured some new songs that came in with high energy, interesting song structures and sounds. They made a reference to having forgotten their giant pyramid at home, a reference to Daft Punk the night before, my second favorite line of the weekend.

I stayed around Hutchinson Field for some of the Silverchair performance, asked myself "Why, oh god, why?" and then left. Does the world need this band anymore? We then parked ourselves to get ready for Cold War Kids, who I was introduced to at this same festival last year, the difference being during 2006's performance, there was about 100 people standing around casually watching. On Saturday, there were many, many, more. While waiting, we met a very nice couple who had come in from Michigan while dropping off their kids in Minneapolis. That's commitment! On came the Cold War Kids, and they raced through their biggest tracks from their debut feature-length album, "Robbers & Cowards". As expected, this was a great performance which delivered against the expectations of what this band has been come to be known for.

On to another highlight for me, The Roots. After having seen them last week at the Rock The Bells festival, I knew that we were in for a treat with The Roots. They began the same way as last week, with ?uestlove on drums and Black Thought freestyling on top ("The Web", from "Tipping Point"). Immediately his skills as an MC became known, and the audience moved from merely dancing to being in awe. The full band joined them (including horn section), and they played through several songs, including the hit "The Seed (2.0)". In the midst of it all, they dropped talent-revealing medley, which included The Sugarhill Gang (“Rapper’s Delight”), Biz Markie ("Just A Friend"), Salt 'n' Pepa ("Pushit"), Wu Tang Clan ("Oh Baby I Like It Raw"), and Talib Kweli ("Get By"). All of this with neither Black Thought nor the audience ever missing a beat. The Roots are a tour-de-force in hip-hop and should not be missed.

While we wanted to see The Hold Steady next, we needed a break before the evening session, and thus we had a bite to eat and relaxed. Next up for us was either Snow Patrol or Yeah Yeah Yeahs. We started with Snow Patrol, and immediately realized that this was going to be a real yawner of a show. Take a teaspoon of Coldplay and mix with a tablespoon of Keane, and you have Snow Patrol. Nothing interesting, so we moved over to see Karen O. and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Again, what seemed to be great on paper did not deliver, and it appeared that they were just going through the motions. Karen O. had some energy on stage, but it wasn’t translating well to the audience, and we were resigned to waiting for the final two bands of the evening.

Which brings me to the only "mistake", if you could call it that, that I made over the weekend in terms of artist choice. On the strength of their new album, "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga", I selected to see Spoon instead of Patti Smith. Part of this decision was also, again, fueled by the need to select a side for the headliner. So, while we were sitting in the throngs of people waiting to hear Muse, we got to hear Spoon from afar. They sounded fine. Patti Smith, however, upon hearing and reading reviews, was legendary, including an anti-war rendition of "Smells Like Teen Spirit". I missed out.

Anyway, we were in prime position for the headliner, Muse. We had selected them over the other headliner, Interpol, for a few reasons. One, I do not care for the new Interpol album. Two, I have seen Interpol several times live, and Muse only once. Three, Muse tend to be a better live act, especially for a forum like this. The crowd certainly appreciated Muse as they played a high octane set including their hits "Hysteria", "Starlight", and "Stockholm Syndrome", but I couldn't help thinking that this was fairly generic alternative music that was better served to exist in the mid to late 90s than today. Matthew Bellamy throws in some flashy classical piano moments, and, as a pianist myself, I can say that he is talented, but none of the showy piano riffs seemed to make any sense within the context of this music – it felt very gratuitous, as if he was trying to make it a point for everyone to know how good he was. Muse can be thought of as "Radiohead-Light", and, after this second Muse performance I've seen, I’d rather just go see the big boys themselves. Muse is good, but not great.

Another day of good music behind us, and on to some much needed rest before the final day…


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