Lollapalooza: Friday (Kenny) by Moondog
Another year, another long weekend in Grant Park, Chicago, another three days of sex, drugs
and rock ‘n roll at Lollapalooza 2008. This year the festival sold out, with some 225,000 in attendance, including a few of KWUR’s own. Press credentials? Photo passes? Who needs ‘em (we do). We here at KWUR, forever dedicated to the underground, are bringing you coverage of the festival at the ground floor.
The Go! Team
Even standing a good half a mile back from the stage, one could feel the excitement build as the Team assembled onstage. After a minor technical issue (read: FUCKING BANSHEE WAIL FEEDBACK) they kickstarted their set with the high energy hit Grip Like A Vice from 2007’s Proof of Youth. Ladyflash, Titanic Vandalism, and Flashlight Fight (sans Chuck D., unfortunately) followed, amongst many others. The crowd followed in unison with every clap, chanting along with the Team’s impossibly cheery choruses. The sun sat high above the Chicago skyline, beer flowed freely, and spirits were high. All in all, a great way to start the weekend.
I admit, ashamedly now, that I’m unfamiliar with most of Gogol Bordello’s discography (I seem to be in the minority here, because the rest of the crowd was yelling along to their indecipherable lyrics). Going in, I knew that they’d played the Warped Tour a few years ago, and was somewhat surprised to see that they’d been signed on to play Lolla (not much of a crossover crowd, you see). Well, paint me impressed, because they played a show with just as much chutzpah and bravado as the Go! Team, albeit in a different style (think Zydepunks). They wailed, they whistled, they played the shit out of that fiddle (kudos on that Slayer tour t-shirt, fiddler), and lead man Eugene Hutz fueled his performance with an entire bottle of (what appeared to be) bum wine. Bravo. I’m not sure how their music translates on CD, but they put on one hell of a live show.
This block presented the most difficult decision of the weekend, by far, as Bloc Party, CSS, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, The Cool Kids AND The Raconteurs were playing at the same time. I chose to trek across the park, once again, to see The Raconteurs, and I was not disappointed. With Brendan Benson and Jack White at the helm, backed by the equally talented Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, the Raconteurs ripped through tunes from Broken Boy Soldier and their relatively new release, Consolers of the Lonely. White, without a doubt, stole the show – the man has charisma dripping from his pores. It almost makes one wish he’d get back together with Meg and start recording as the White Stripes again, but in the meantime, The Raconteurs make for an entertaining (and hey, artistically valid) side project. I left a bit early, catching a bit of CSS, so as to get a decent spot for…
The moment we’d all been waiting for – 7:59 rolls around and 75,000 people have packed themselves into a half square mile field, waiting patiently for Radiohead to take the stage. Headliners at Lollapalooza are generally allowed their own stage layout, and Radiohead took advantage of this by lining the stage with rows of long, cylindrical lights hung from the rafters. The boys made their entrance promptly at 8, starting things off with the first track of In Rainbows, 15 Step. From here on out, it was an odyssey of light and music, as they covered ground from almost all their albums (Pablo Honey being the exception). From my vantage point, the show did not disappoint, although with that many people packed into that small a space, it was difficult to hear/see the band at times. Overall, the show was more relaxed, with even more upbeat songs (such as There There and Bodysnatchers) played a few notches down. Their rendition of Paranoid Android was by far the most energized of the set, with amps and light-cylinders set to blow at full electrical capacity. Dollars and Cents was another high point – I swear, I remarked to the person standing next to me that the note they hit at the end was one of the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard (I stand by this assessment). 24 songs later, minds sufficiently blown, the humongous crowd exited the park at a truly glacial pace (I believe it took over half an hour to move 100 yards across the field).
So that’s it for day 1. I saw a few other bands (Cat Power, CSS, and others) but only for a song or two – not long enough to justify a proper write-up. Stay tuned tomorrow for day 2!
EDIT: pictures to come as they become available.