Sunday, August 6th, 2006
Lollapalooza Day Two
Lollapalooza day two!
I was a little late getting started yesterday morning and Be Your Own Pet’s noon-hour set was the casualty. The first band I did catch was Cold War Kids, who are something of a blog favourite – a fact that didn’t really bode well for them considering how often my tastes fall in line with the buzz du jour. What they were, to me, was Modest Mouse covering soul tunes. Does Isaac Brock know how many bands are stealing his singing style? Or lack thereof? Perplexing. Anyway, they were alright. Nothing astonishing, but alright.
Geography would dictate much of my schedule for this day, hence The Go! Team – playing right next door to where the Cold War Kids were – got the nod over Feist, who was way the hell on the other side of the park. Their live show is somewhat legendary and now that I’ve witnessed it, I’ll fall in line. Super fun, super high energy and really good tunes, in that hip-hop/disco/dance/garage/sould kinda way. They got the crowd involved with singalongs, call-and-response, dancing, etc. Even the clown troupe in audience got into the groove and you know how dour clowns can be. Definitely a good time.
Then it was hoofing it way across the park for Built To Spill. Their (alleged by me) hatred for Toronto is well-documented so they pretty much topped the list of must-see bands I’ve never seen and this would likely be my best opportunity to rectify that. As it turns out, they’re not the most charismatic performers but hearing the 3-headed guitar orgy and great tunes live was still a treat. And they were (surprisingly) the first band I’d heard to make a point about the corporate sponsorship of the festival, telling the crowd that Budweiser didn’t actually care about them. Which is unfair. Budweiser is a big company. Surely SOMEONE there is a Built To Spill fan.
Geography came into play again as I opted for Calexico over Wolfmother even though I had seen them almost exactly one month ago. This time the guest appearance of Salvador Duran, who so spiced up their tour with Iron & Wine last year, was an unexpected treat though Sam Beam, who played yesterday, declined to make an appearance. But Nicolai Dunger, whom I’m no particular fan of, did guest on their “Alone Again Or”, which was naturally dedicated to the late Arthur Lee. When Calexico becomes a fallback act, you know you’re dealing with a loaded lineup.
Another band I’d never seen before was Sonic Youth and while not nearly the most devout fan, I was more than happy to get the chance. Probably the band at the festival most deserving of the adjective “legendary”, they proved they could still teach bands half their age a thing or two about putting on a killer show. They drew heavily on Rather Ripped – which suited me fine – and sounded fantastic with far more energy than I would have expected from an act that looked as grizzled as they do (the telephoto lens doesn’t lie). Kim Gordon, in particular, was a dancing machine. Handing off most bass duties to ex-Pavementer Mark Ibold has really freed her up to get in touch with her inner pogo-er. Fantastic.
The next time slot didn’t have anything of real appeal to me so I wandered to the closest stage which would be featuring The Dresden Dolls. They’re advertised as punk cabaret and that’s really as apt a description as any – the two piece, a drummer and pianist, dress in whiteface and cabaret makeup and play, well, punkish cabaret music. Dramatic, theatrical and definitely entertaining, their set was livened up by an accidental (?) n!p slip conveniently right after the photo pit cleared out. The band also has an almost frighteningly rabid fanbase – one girl pressed up against the barricade declared, unprompted, that she would let singer/pianist Amanda Palmer spit on her.
By now, everyone knows what to expect from a Flaming Lips show – the giant bubble, the costumed dancers, the confetti guns – and yet even though you know what’s coming, if you haven’t seen it before as I haven’t (or even if you have), it’s still spectacular. The bubble was actually less elegant than I’d expected – I thought Wayne Coyne would be walking more than being buffetted around helplessly, but that made it all the more endearing. And I’d mistakenly dismissed the musical aspect of the show, expecting them to rely heavily on tapes and concentrate more on the theatricality of it all. And while there’s no doubt they’ve spent a lot of time on the costumes and whatnot (in attendance – Martian dancing girls, an army of Santa Clauses and the Justice League), I was pleasantly surprised how much the band actually plays and performs. Simply marvelous and though it’s almost cliche to say, the highlight of the day.
The New Pornographers drew a much larger crowd than I expected, a fact that did my Canadian heart proud. It was also nice to see them garnering the attention they did without the “big name draws” of Neko Case and Dan Bejar in the lineup – while they’re somewhat lessened in stage presence by their absence, the core lineup still sounds excellent. I didn’t stick around that long – the opportunity to rest up before the evening’s finale was too tempting to pass up. But I could hear the Pornos from the media tent – at least until the crowd gathered at the big stage started chanting “Kanye, Kanye”.
A year and a half ago, I said I had no idea who Kanye West was. Now, I know that a) he’s from Chicago, b) he headlined day 2 of Lollapalooza and c) he doesn’t think that George Bush cares about black people. The crowd was apeshit for him but after being hustled out of the photo pit with the rest of the camera brigade, I couldn’t bring myself to fight my way back into the crowd to see the rest of the show, and just listened from in back. He had an orchestra with him. Sounded nice.
MySpace: Kanye West
Photos from day 2 have been added to my Flickr set. Another 3.5 GB of photos to go through next week. Huzzah!
Today is the final day of the festival and as you might imagine, I’m about ready to crash hard. But I can keep it going for another 12 hours or so until this all wraps up proper and celebratory-like.