REVIEW – Lollapalooza – August 1st, 2008

REVIEW –  Lollapalooza – August 1st, 2008

Review of Lollapalooza – Day 1
By: Mark Triana

On August 1, 2008 the City of Chicago played host to the first day of the Lollapalooza music festival at Grant Park. Spanning ten city blocks, Grant Park could barely contain the 75,000 fans that enjoyed the beautiful lakefront locale. Across eight stages, nearly fifty different bands performed their sets for captive audiences, undeterred by the scorching heat of a Chicago summer day.

Some fans donned parasols, or took residence in the shade, to avoid the sun’s reach. Others embraced the heat, putting themselves at the mercy of their sunscreen. Fans swarmed around the two drinking fountains in Grant Park—conveniently placed on either side of Buckingham Fountain—as they struggled to remain hydrated amidst the lengthy treks from each end of the park.

The Kidz Stage returned again this year, providing parents with a reprieve from some of the Lollapalooza insanity. The stage came equipped with a range of family-friendly musical acts that families could take their children to. Perry’s Stage (named after Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction) was a pleasant addition to Lollapalooza. Devoted almost completely to DJ sets, the stage attracted a fair amount of fans and revelry throughout the day.

Lollapalooza was founded by Perry Farrell in 1991, originally conceived of as a traveling festival that would tour the United States. It achieved wide-ranging success until 1998, when the tour was officially canceled due to declining ticket sales. Farrell attempted to restore the touring festival again in 2003 to no avail. It appeared as if Lollapalooza would not survive this second blow.

Since being revived again in 2005 as a music festival based solely in Chicago, Lollapalooza has achieved more and more success each and every year. The annual event has captured the attention of the entire world with its pedigree of stellar commercial and independent musical talent. Friday’s lineup was further confirmation of Lollapalooza’s reputation as one of the greatest music festivals in the world.

While it may have been impossible to see each and every band that played throughout the day, with enough resolve anyone could have packed their day with a good ten to twelve bands or so. The following is my day at Lollapalooza:

Bang Camaro (MySpace Stage) 11:30-12:15
Having recognized Bang Camaro by name from the ever-popular music simulation video games, Guitar Hero and Rock Band, it was difficult to pass up the opportunity to see them play live. Composed of more than fifteen band members—nearly ten of them taking part in the vocals—Bang Camaro borrowed only the very best aspects of ‘80s metal, and blended it with a fresh, vocal-inspired offensive, all of which translated to a very nice set, and a good turnout, considering they were one of the very first bands to play. Though the audience was clearly roused by “Push Push (Lady Lightning)” and “Pleasure (Pleasure),” Bang Camaro truly proved that they have much more in their arsenal than most people have seen or heard from the aforementioned video games. Obviously, they have satisfied a niche audience by harkening back to ‘80s hair metal, but they have done it in a way that offers a unique perspective on current trends in the music industry. Thus, they have effectively grabbed hold of the market, and not loosened their ironclad grip. Kudos must be given to Bang Camaro for managing to fit on stage, and for jump-starting Lollapalooza.

beth_080108_talvik01 150Sofia Talvik (Citi Stage) 12:00-12:30
As Sofia Talvik took the stage in her lovely pink dress, she was greeted by a slew of technical difficulties that caused her set to start somewhat later than expected. This would not deter her from weaving her soft and pleasant tales of love and hardship across the audience before her.

While the accompanying music was excellent, it was difficult not to get lost in Sofia’s fairy tale-like lyrics. Unfortunately, Bernard Butler was not available for the popular duet on “It’s Just Love,” but she managed very well without him. Also, it would have been nice if Sofia was allotted more time to perform her set, as she was one of only a few artists that was only given thirty minutes to play.

Manchester Orchestra (Citi Stage) 1:00-1:45
Manchester Orchestra is not from Manchester, and they are not an orchestra by any means. Regardless, this Atlanta-based band took to the Lollapalooza stage for the second time in three years, and they reminded everyone why they were invited to begin with. As burly and grizzled as their singer, Andy Hull, appeared on the surface, it was only a façade. As a matter of fact, he was able to lull the audience with his pronounced lyrical ensemble from start to finish. By showing more overall range than most individuals are accustomed to in one band, Manchester Orchestra attracted a very gracious crowd that hung on their every lyric. My only lament was that they were not allowed the luxury of lending their set to one of the larger North or South stages

The Go! Team (Bud Light Stage) 2:15-3:15
Though I had not made my way to the North end of Grant Park before this point, I was more than pleased when I saw the rainbow-colored stockings of the The Go! Team’s lead vocalist, Ninja. The UK-based band took the stage to a fairly large and enthusiastic audience. The Go! Team matched the crowd’s enthusiasm with a very inspired and energetic set, taking to jumping up and down and jogging in place as they played. They interacted with the crowd very well with songs like “The Wrath of Marcie” and “Fake ID.” Unlike any other artist at Lollapalooza, The Go! Team seemed crafted for live shows with their liveliness and genre-transcending style. They were like a cocktail, shaken and stirred, an intelligent mix of indie rock, hip hop, and dance. The Go! Team was the best band to play on Friday that wasn’t named Radiohead.

Duffy (Playstation 3 Stage) 3:15-4:15
When the lineups for Lollapalooza were first announced, Duffy was one of the most eagerly anticipated artists to make their way onto the bill. Having received second-place on Wawffactor, the Welsh version of American idol, and a great deal of airplay in recent months, she had somewhat of a pedigree to live up to.
Duffy did not disappoint. She took her particular brand of soul music to the Lollapalooza stage, arresting those who happened to pass by, and amassing an audience that stretched all the way to the Bud Light stage. The swinging contours and undulations of her sharp voice set her ahead of the curve, utterly captivating the crowd with her rendition of “Warwick Avenue.” Though the comparisons with Amy Winehouse are inescapable, Duffy truly distinguished herself with her wonderful performance.

Gogol Bordello (AT&T Stage) 4:15-5:15

Though somewhat impossible to identify with any one genre, Gogol Bordello has taken to categorizing their music as “gypsy funk”—and that label suits them well. Led by a singer that looked like a hybrid of Weird Al Yankovich and Borat, the band brought their Eastern European swagger and swig, an accordion, a violin, and a whole lot of energy to the stage. Much like a glorified bar mitzvah, Gogol Bordello’s broken English-charged cabaret inspired nothing short of dance and festivity amongst the crowd, particularly with songs like “Super Theory of Super” and “American Wedding.” Spectacle or not, the set was colorful, unusual, and entertaining, a wholesome addition to the Lollapalooza family.

The Raconteurs (Bud Light Stage) 6:15-7:45
When The Raconteurs took to the Lollapalooza stage in 2006, they were regarded as a fleeting side project of Jack White of The White Stripes—good, but temporary.

Two years later, the little band from Nashville has released a second album, and they have taken their blues-inspired rock to the stage once again. With a much larger body of work and increased credibility in the world of music, The Raconteurs captured the crowd with a high-pitched vocal whirlwind of a performance. Sadly, many of the onlookers began to make their way to the South end to position themselves for Radiohead’s set. Those that stayed for the remainder of the set were treated to the best that The Raconteurs had to offer in “Many Shades of Black” and “Salute Your Solution.”

Radiohead (AT&T Stage) 8:00-10:00
Though murmurs and whispers of “Radiohead, Radiohead” could be heard throughout the day, it was difficult to assume that the band would actually materialize at some point in the evening. Nevertheless, it appeared as if the entirety of the sold out Lollapalooza crowd had migrated to the AT&T Stage. They were greeted by what looked like a cluster of tinseled wind chimes hanging down from the top of the stage. Each of these “wind chimes” acted as a conduit for multi-colored light—a giant, retroactive glow stick of sorts—during Radiohead’s performance. Their soft, hypnotic tunes even attracted a crowd directly outside of Grant Park. With the Skyline on one side, Lake Michigan on the other, and not the slightest sound across the park, the City of Chicago was Radiohead’s stage. Fireworks exploded overhead as they played “Everything In Its Right Place” and “Fake Plastic Trees.” To be perfectly frank, Radiohead single-handedly justified the cost of admission. Their performance was not only beautiful, it was intelligent and remarkable, a musical theatre at its finest.

Overall, it was extremely difficult to find very much to gripe about with regard to Lollapalooza. The band selection was exceptional. The event was well-organized. The audiences were very gracious. The first day of Lollapalooza was everything that a festival should be. Kudos to those who had any involvement in organizing and maintaining the festival in any way.

In accordance with a 5-year deal signed with the City of Chicago in 2006, Lollapalooza will return to Grant Park for the next two years. Beyond 2010 though, it’s difficult to say what the future holds. One cannot deny that the Lollapalooza formula was particularly effective this year. In fact, ticket sales and international appeal have never been higher. Lollapalooza 2008 will not be an easy act to follow. Until next year…

For more information about Lollapalooza, please visit their official website at: http://www.lollapalooza.com