Monday, Aug. 10, 2009

Lollapalooza 2009 Wrap-Up

By Evan Rytlewski
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My wrap up of 2009’s Lollapalooza festival is up. In a nutshell, I thought the  supporting headliners upstaged the curiously lackluster headliners, and that the festival had better luck with dance and electronic-leaning artists than it did alternative rock ones, but all in all, it was an excellent weekend.

Some stray thoughts:

* TV on the Radio was a revelation live. I hadn’t seen them in five years, and during that time their albums have grown too cold and dense for my taste, but the fury and passion they bring to concert is a wonder to behold. Their show was just about perfect.

* Speaking of perfection, Passion Pit’s 60-minute sugar rush was pretty damn close, too. The band deftly pairs the showmanship of a great rock show with the interactive spirit of a great dance show. That they played a cramped side stage while a grandfathered-in Cold War Kids played a sprawling field was one of the festival's biggest scheduling blunders.

* It’s not clear what caused it—some reports say somebody tried to steal her microphone, while her own comments suggested somebody tried to grope her—but what is clear is that Crystal Castles’ Alice Glass landed a nasty punch or two on somebody. With such an angry, tiny woman surfing on top of such a huge, unruly crowd, the violence seemed inevitable, and Glass is no stranger to getting in fights at her shows, but that didn’t make her any less livid about the incident. She taunted her apparent assailant in vicious terms after she returned to the stage.

* Of Montreal is a great band with a songbook that grows more formidable each year. So why do they still need the kitschy, distracting stage show? It's time for them to ditch the Flaming Lips routine.

* In concert, Ida Maria is a more traditional rock ’n’ roller than she’s been marketed as—there’s very little of that punky, girlish edge that her publicity material plays up—but her huge, rowdy voice is a thing of wonder.

* Ugh, Ben Harper.

* Santigold covered The Cure’s “Killing an Arab” and played her portion of Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn (Go Hard).” Both were great performances but sad reminders of two acts that would have made better headliners than, say, Kings of Leon or a re-re-re-reunited Jane’s Addiction.

* Though I think Tool is a bit too much of a niche band to be a great headliner, the portion of their set that I caught was unimpeachable, right down to the over-the-top, Castle Greyskull stage design. The portion of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ set I caught by comparison was a downright mess, not that the crowd seemed to mind too much.

* Bat For Lashes was a major disappointment, too. In a dark, cool club, their show might have been transcendent, but on a blistering hot early afternoon, it was difficult to tolerate 60 minutes of music that airy and down-tempo.

* Snoop Dogg should perform at every festival. Though he performed Sunday evening, he probably would have made a better Beastie Boys replacement/Saturday night headliner than the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

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