08.04.07 Lollapalooza @ Grant Park, Chicago IL â€“ Saturday
The second day of Lolla's residency in the Windy City is a cooler proposition than the first, with a swell of cloud cover keeping temps down, but also leaving us with the threat of rain hanging over our heads. We're not complaining though, because we'd much rather get drizzled on than sweat out a quart of water an hour in 100 degree temps. But when the thunder and lightning hit, that's when we know to get the hell outta dodge, because even after a few drinks, we know better than to stand around in an open field when there's lightning flashing across the sky.
We arrive onsite in the early afternoon, sadly we've missed The Satin Peaches, who, we hear, are quite fantastic. We have also missed Pete Yorn and Tapes 'n' Tapes, but we are not at all sad about this fact.
We also wish we had missed Silverchair, but we were definitely there to hear them schlock their way through an hour(too)long set on the AT&T stage. The cuddly grunge tykes that brought you "Tomorrow" and "Pure Massacre" are no more, having been replaced by an older, stupider version that favors hackneyed classic rock moves and ham-fisted songwriting. Somebody says it best when they state that Daniel Johns wants to be "Billy Squire", hell, he even looks like him now. We guess that if you marry Natalie Imbruglia, you can pretty much do whatever you'd like, just don't do it on our watch. Regardless, the 'Chair' stink up the stage, and they don't even play "Tomorrow" for nostalgia's sake.
Silverchair "Without You"
Next we head to the Myspace stage to see Minneapolis-bred synth-punks Motion City Soundtrack do it up for the kids, and showcase a handful of tracks from their soon-to-be-released Even If It Kills Me. The kids come in droves, and as they sprint through a set that includes "Perfect Teeth", "L.G. FUAD" and "My Favorite Accident" as well as some stellar new tracks including "Broken Heart" and "Fell In Love Without You". The band sound as tight as ever, and Justin has shorn his hair down to a manageable level. Keyboardist Jesse Johnson even does his best spazzy James DeWees dance, which either proves that they're the new Get Up Kids, or that he had way too much caffeine backstage.
Motion City Soundtrack "LG FUAD"
We make the long walk across the grounds to the Bud Light stage to check out The Roots, who are about 20 deep onstage, including an entire brass section and a formidable entourage. Questlove? keeps the beat steady as the band play an uneven set that draws from their vast catalogue, as well as snatches of current top 40 hits ("Throw Some D's" and "This Is Why I'm Hot") as well as bits and pieces of Sly, Parliament and Prince tossed in for good measure. While occasionally impressive, the set feels disjointed and wandering, the band at a disconnect with the audience, or perhaps vice versa.
The Roots "The Seed 2.0"
Much to our chagrin, CSS have canceled for unknown reasons. Unable to bask in the alien sexuality of Lovefoxx, we instead bask in the perennial weirdness of Roky Erickson & The Explosives, who, contrary to last time we saw them, sound fantastic, or at least like they're all playing the same song in the same key. Roky still looks like one of the freaky-deakies, but damned if 30 some years after his heyday he still doesn't sound as relevant as ever.
Truth be told, we've always had a soft spot for Twin Cities rockers The Hold Steady, and while we missed a chunk of their set due to poor time management (and crazy long lines for beverages), the portion we did see was up to their usual standard of excellence, especially the sublime reading of "Southtown Girls" with its honking harmonica solo and luscious 4 part harmonies. Lead singer Craig Finn was in fine form, drunkenly joyful as ever and sporting a Twins jersey emblazoned with the number 35, presumably as a tribute to their hometown's recent tragedy. They end with a sloppy bar jam that just keeps going and going and going as if there's never gonna be another last call.
The Hold Steady "Killer Parties"
The next time slot - Snow Patrol vs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs. By a majority vote, we stay in the South field for YYY's and veggie pad thai, and while the food was fantastic, Karen O and her cronies were not. We just don't understand all the hype that surrounds this band, especially the Divine Miss O, whose rambling stage antics and caterwauling screams are cribbed directly from Patti Smith (who herself is playing later, so why not go see the real deal?) and Lydia Lunch. Add to that the fawning praise thrust upon guitarist/sociophobe Nick Zinner, who's guitar playing is OK before the amphetamines really kick in and you're staring overrated right in its beady little eyes. Their drummer, Brian Chase, however, rules and is the only redeeming facet of the band.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Date With The Night"
We'd like to see the aformentioned Ms. Smith, but honestly, our feet are killing us and the Adidas stage is waaay too far away right now, so we stay to bask in the relative blandness of Spoon.
Patti Smith "Redondo Beach"
Now, don't get us wrong, Spoon make great albums, especially Kill The Moonlight and Girls Can Tell, but live they're only a so-so proposition. We position ourselves in the middle of the field so as to hear Spoon, but put ourselves in prime striking distance for Muse, who, honestly, is who we've been waiting all day to see.
We could write a thousand word treatise on how much I hate Interpol and how awful they are live and how anybody that chooses to see them instead of Muse is fucked in the head, but we'll save that for another time.
Interpol "The Heinrich Maneuver"
The evening's true headliners, Muse, are just coming off a pair of monstrous (as in 100,000+ each night) stadium shows in the UK, so tonight is basically a piece of piss for Bellamy and the boys. Right on cue the video screens kick in and the Hawking-esque prose begins, ramping up the crowd as the band marches out and rips straight into "Take A Bow" and then follows that with a grisly and atom-powered version of "Map Of The Problematique". Next comes "Hyseria" and that's exactly what it causes, Wolsterholme's juggernaut of a bassline paving the way for ten ton guitars and a sky-melting chorus that lead to a set of pogo'ing punters. From that point it's an all out sprint through their stellar back catalogue - "Stockholm Syndrome", "Time Is Running Out", "New Born", "Muscle Museum", "Plug In Baby", "Supermassive Black Hole" - everything you'd expect, along with a gargantuan light show and digitally-splintered video screens going off. But all of it, every single second is just a precursor to the set ending "Knights Of Cydonia", which, once it erupts into its heavy metal-spewing breakdown, could topple mountains and make grown men drop to their knees and beg for mercy. It's that fucking good. Sure, we wanted to hear "Micro Cuts" and a few other oddities, but when something is this good, you don't sit around splitting hairs and grousing about what didn't happen, you just suck in the experience and bask in the glorious bombast of it all.
Day two over, we're filthy, Muse has knocked our hearing down a few decibels and we're not entirely sure we have the right credentials for the Hard Rock afterparty, but damned if we're not gonna try and blag our way in anyhow.