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Monday, August 7th, 2006

Lollapalooza Day Three

Oh my God, is it over yet?

Shockingly, I made it to Grant Park early on the final day of the festival so I was well in place to see What Made Milwaukee Famous kick things off. Hailing from Austin, I got a copy of their debut CD Trying To Never Catch Up last week and while I haven’t listened heavily, it was interesting enough that they’re on my radar. Purveyors of fairly synthy indie pop, I liked what I heard and will have to make a point of giving the record some more attention. I had to bail after just a couple songs, though, as there was something special going down over at the Kidzapalooza stage.

MP3: What Made Milwaukee Famous – “Idecide”
MySpace: What Made Milwaukee Famous

Patti Smith had been a late addition to the festival and was slated to play the Kidz stage, coming straight from the airport. Not surprisingly she was delayed so to fill in time, festival organizer Perry Farrell and Porno For Pyros cohort Peter DiStefano jammed out a number of tunes including some PfP songs – those certainly took me back to high school. Farrell is an odd duck, that’s for sure, especially around small children.

MySpace: Porno For Pyros

And when Patti Smith finally did arrive, she played a few songs but unfortunately, my schedule called me elsewhere after just two numbers. But still, it was quite cool to be in the presence of someone so legendary and influential. I guess she heard what I wrote about Sonic Youth yesterday and decided to one-up them.

MySpace: Patti Smith

And then it was back to the Q101 stage for The Hold Steady. Yeah, I just saw them on Monday but I was already pretty anxious to see them again. And they did not disappoint – it’s rare the band that is equally at home in the dark, sweaty club and the festival stage but The Hold Steady somehow pull it off. So much fun.

MP3: The Hold Steady – “Your Little Hoodrat Friend”
Video: The Hold Steady – “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” (You Tube)
MySpace: The Hold Steady

People from all over have been telling me to get into Hot Chip. I’ve got at least three of their records in a pile somewhere, so I have no excuse, and after seeing their live show, I now have some motivation. There’s something about an electronic band that makes the effort to create a solid, organic live experience – when they do it right, it’s almost always terrific. Which is a roundabout way of saying Hot Chip was terrific live. Tight, dancable but surprisingly soulful. Those records will be getting dug out of their piles when I get home

Video: Hot Chip – “Over And Over”
MySpace: Hot Chip

There was quite a surprisingly large turnout for Andrew Bird but I suspect a lot of the crowd didn’t know who he was. He was just, you know, convenient. I was there because I really enjoyed seeing him open for The Magnetic Fields a couple years ago. This time he played with a drummer but even so, he was still very much a one-man orchestra. It’s fascinating to watch him work and multitask, handling violin, guitar, glockenspiel, looper and voice, both singing and whistling, is mesmerizing. The fact that he crafts beautiful songs as well is just unfair.

MP3: Andrew Bird – “A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left”
MySpace: Andrew Bird

I managed to dodge the Death Cab on Friday but was hip deep in the indie kids yesterday for The Shins. They’re not a band you would expect to own the festival stage but they did quite well up there. They don’t do rock spectacle but in taking the friendly, chatty approach and making the kids feel like their lives are changing, they did fine. Blending old favourites with new material from the forthcoming Sleeping Lessons (which sounded just fine and Shins-y and is apparently out January-ish), they offered a nice soundtrack to sitting under a tree, gently drifting off. Which is pretty much what I did.

MP3: The Shins -“Kissing The Lipless”
Video: The Shins – “Saint Simon”
MySpace: The Shins

Ah, Wilco. I had hoped that a homecoming show for them would be extra-special, and I was not disappointed. The sea of adoring fans who gathered to see them was nothing short of astonishing – hasn’t this town ever heard of backlash? But the love was reciprocated by the band and they turned in a glorious late afternoon set. In addition to the three new songs they’d been playing on the Canadian tour, they broke out another new one which also sounded great. It was really a shame that I had to catch a golf cart shuttle down to the other end of Grant Park before their set ended – but as the day and festival were winding down, time was of the essence. And anyway, I had my own hometown show to get to.

MP3: Wilco – “Impossible Germany” (live in Milwaukee 2006-07-05)
MySpace: Wilco

I’ve always wondered what Broken Social Scene was like on the road. When they play Toronto, I’ve always thought they maybe take advantage of the adulation of the home crowd to get a little too shambolic or plain messed up. Surely the road audiences wouldn’t be so indulgent? As it turns out there’d be no need – they brought their entire roster, 16 strong by my count and all four BSS ladies, and their A-game. I’ve always thought that Broken Social relies on a certain random chemistry to work their magic live and on this night, they were awash in it. Seriously, there was something amazing happening onstage – indescribable. The band knew it and the audience knew it. I was so dismayed that I had to tear myself away to fight my way into the last photo pit of the night – watching the band on the video screen as I pushed and elbowed my way through the great unwashed I could see, even without being able to hear, that something special happening back there. In hindsight I think I would have rather had my festival end with Broken Social. I really hope that a recording of that set makes it out – I need to hear the whole thing.

Video: Broken Social Scene – “Fire Eye’d Boy” (MOV)
MySpace: Broken Social Scene

Though at first I thought the choice of the Red Hot Chili Peppers as festival closers was a little dated, on second thought it’s pretty canny. They’re veterans, so it can be argued they earned it, and yet they still sell tons of records. They’ve got top 40 cred, alternative cred, and thanks to the generation who grew up in the 90s with Blood Sugar Sex Magic, they’ve got indie/nostalgia cred. Of course, I haven’t heard hardly anything they’ve done since, oh, 1994, but that’s okay. As it turned out, I only stuck around for the first three songs of the set – the pit was super crowded and the mood from the crowd was pretty dark and aggressive. People were getting crushed against the barricade, hurled over the barricade, manhandled by security… yeah. Arena rock, I guess. Not my scene at all. The Peppers were terrific from what I saw – super tight and John Frusciante was on fire – but watching the scene from the safety of the media area, it was kind of hard to reconcile the chaos below with the almost uniformly great vibes that had permeated the fest till that point. I’m sure most in attendance will say it was great, but I was kind of happy to get out of there – and not just because I was completely wiped out.

Video: Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Dani California” (YouTube)
MySpace: Red Hot Chili Peppers

And that’s Lollapalooza 2006. What a thing. I will be back with a proper wrap-up post tomorrow, but for now, once again, check out Flickr for a photo of each performer I saw yesterday. I’ll let you know when the full photosets are up, but the grand total is somewhere around 10GB now so… be patient.

And now? I want to go home.

By : Frank Yang at 9:10 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Thierry says:

    Hey Frank – thanks for the SF59 tickets!

    The Coast were indeed very good (they probably own a few Echo & the Bunnymen and early U2 records, don’t they?), but SF59 looked like they really don’t seem to enjoy playing live. Oh, they sounded great (and, at times, uncannily like more recent, New Order- and Chills-influenced Pernice Brothers), and it’s hard to blame them for sounding less-than-upbeat when playing for maybe 70 people on a Sunday night, but every time the music stopped and Jason Martin stood in total silence quietly retuning his guitar, the energy was completely sucked out of the room.

    Still, they do make a beautiful noise, and Leave Here a Stranger remains a favourite of mine…

  2. claire says:

    it is too bad that you had to leave broken social scene early. what happened at the end was unlike anything i’ve ever experienced at a concert. they ended with "ibi dreams of pavement" and brought everyone on stage and had the audience cathartically yell and cheer along with the band. it was a great moment, and obviously the energy level was high. and then they had to stop, because their 45 minutes (???!!!???) was up.

    the audience kept clapping and cheering and calling for an encore, and for a minute or two it looked like there might be one. but even as it became apparent that the band was taking its equipment down, the crowd kept on cheering. as much or more out of appreciation for the peformance than as a request for an encore. this went on for over 10 minutes. i’ve never seen anything like it. whenever a band member made it on stage to take down an amp or wave at the crowd, they looked legtimately humbled and sad that they couldn’t continue playing. the crowd did not dissipate until the chili peppers came on, the jumbotron displaying flea in that disturbing multicolored bodysuit. at that point, everyone near us booed. which is not really fair to the chili peppers, but an understandable reaction. the crowd was so galvanized by the performance they had just witnessed, it was pretty amazing.

    i second your wish that a recording of that show becomes available.

  3. Karl says:

    "Backlash?" What’s that?

    We’re the Second City. We like it when other people figure out we have something to offer.

  4. Kill Me Sarah says:

    Thanks for the beautiful new Wilco’s song.

  5. cpsyk says:

    BSS was by far the highlight of the weekend for me. Why they were only given a 45 minute set is simply beyond me. They are simply astonishing live, and the love coming off them and the crowd was unbelievable. Based on the reaction, I think it would have been fair to allow them to play "one more song". I realize there’s a schedule and all, but surely the Chili Peppers are secure enough in their own fame to graciously allow a newer, obviously adored band a few more minutes on stage. That’s why the Peppers were booed, and it’s also why I left right after they started.

  6. uwmryan says:

    Claire,

    You perfectly summed up the situation. It was great hearing the crowd’s chants go from, "One more song" to "We’re not leaving." You could tell that the band was frustrated and wanted to play one more, but clearly got the firm NO from Lollapalooza.

    Looking back on it, I don’t know what they could have played after "ibi dreams of pavement" that would have touched the feeling of that song. Perhaps, as much as I wanted another song and the band wanted to play another, the fact that it didn’t happen makes that last song, and that last moment all the more memorable.

  7. cybin says:

    Glad to see much love for BSS here. I agree that the truncated set was a farce as many other bands given the full hour didn’t even have an hour to give. I can’t wait till they come back to Chicago.

  8. Eric says:

    Frank, I bailed after Broken Social Scene, and after wading through the Wilco crowd didn’t see you or Ryan again. Great to finally meet you!

  9. claire says:

    i agree with you, ryan. anything more would probably not have matched what preceded it. but, at the time, i felt extremely let down by the lollapalooza powers that be.

  10. Steve says:

    Yeah, love the BSS… Hey man, your Lollapalooza coverage was excellent, easily the best out of all the bloggers. Can’t wait to see the rest of your photos…

  11. palpable says:

    I agree with Steve, Frank, great coverage of the palooza. I don’t know that I will ever go to something that big but your short and sweet summaries were awesome snapshots of the bands.