Monday, August 9, 2010

My Favorite Acts at Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza! It's a fun word to say at first, but after you hear it shouted multiple times by every band you watch and you see it plastered everywhere from your bus card to your wrist, it gets a little tiresome, annoying even. The festival itself can also get a little tiresome, annoying even. With its massive size--which was even bigger this year--massive heat, massive throngs of douchebags, massive ticket price, and massive corporate marketing, the festival takes a mental and physical toll on you. It really does.

But it's all worth it. As terrible as Lollapalooza can be, it's always been worth it and, I think, it always will be. There are always plenty of great shows to see, great people to be with, great food to eat (especially this year--all I can say is "pork belly tostadas from Big Star"). Obviously, though, it's a music festival. One goes to see music. Especially for someone that until recently was under 18 and could hardly go to any shows, Lollapalooza is always worth it for the music; even if a lot of the bands truly suck (this year's batch was definitely one of the worst), enough of them are great.

Naturally some acts are better than others: some people surprise in a good way, others disappoint (cough, Lady GaGa, cough). I missed some acts due to scheduling conflicts that I regret missing (Strokes, Fuck Buttons, Jimmy Cliff, Jamie Lidell, Mavis Staples). But I did see a lot of good shows this weekend. These are my favorites, after the jump:

1. Arcade Fire (Sunday, 8:30)
Indie-rock's most arena-friendly band filled Grant Park--musically, emotionally--like no other group I've seen at Lollapalooza. Their rousing, goosebump-inducing songs had tens of thousands of tired Lollapaloozers singing and dancing and clapping throughout their too-short 90 minute set. A choice setlist made helped further ensure the band's success.

2. Green Day (Saturday, 7:45)
Yeah, that's right: Green Day. Cheesy and indulgent in all the right ways, Green Day's two and a half hour (!) headlining set was a humongous array of fire, fireworks, T-shirt cannons, corny covers, and massive sing-alongs. Say what you will about the band, they know how to put on a show. (Hearing "Basket Case" and "Longview" live didn't hurt either.)

3. Devo (Friday, 4:00)
I had seen them perform at the Congress Theatre just seventeen hours earlier, but Devo was still exciting at Lollapalooza. Their show, with its costume changes and video installations, is creative and unique--and far more likely than those by other bands half (or a third) their age. Plus, their music's timeless.

4. Dirty Projectors (Friday, 5:00)
The DPs opened for Devo at the Congress Theatre, so this was my second time seeing them in less than 24 hours as well. And, like Devo, seeing them twice was neither tiresome nor un-exciting. Though they played almost the same set in both shows, their technical ability never ceases to amaze.

5. Health (Sunday, 11:30 a.m.)
Rain and an early start time threatened to deter me from going to see Health, but I eventually got over myself and made it over to their show at the Adidas stage (albeit fifteen minutes late). I'm glad I went, as the band was just the noisy, hectic wake up call I, and the whole festival, needed.

6. Hot Chip (Friday, 6:00)
I came late, I was far away, they were missing Joe Goddard, and most of the crowd just wanted to see GaGa. Despite all that, Hot Chip were immensely enjoyable. Playing through most of One Life Stand, along with their previous "hits", Hot Chip were one of this year's most fun acts.

7. Grizzly Bear (Saturday, 4:15)
I've all but memorized Grizzly Bear's live show, having seen them live three times since Veckatimest and watched many a clip of them on the internet. But they're always good. And, while the sound at Grant Park wasn't as good as it could've been, they were good once again.

8. Raphael Saadiq (Friday, 2:00)
Raphael Saadiq was the first act I really saw at this year's festival, and he remained one of the best. With the tightest band I've seen this side of the Dapkings, Saadiq churned through his Motown-y tunes with flair and entertained folks like me who didn't really know his music.

9. Wild Beasts (Saturday, 1:15)
While they're definitely better on paper to me--they've been described as indie rock meets math-rock meets Arthur Russell, which is quite a combination--than they are in reality, Wild Beasts played a great, early show on Saturday that makes me consider giving them a chance.

10. Chromeo (Friday, 7:00)
Though I heard the first bit of the set while getting food and the rest while waiting for Lady GaGa, I heard enough of Chromeo to know that they really are a great live band. Their execution is near-flawless. As campy as their music is, I know I'll always like it.

That's what I think. Hope you enjoyed the fest if you went. If you didn't, well, there's always next year.

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