Festival Review: Lollapalooza 2010, Grant Park, August 8 – Day 3

X Japan

Chicago – What’s a music festival without a little rain?  Well … it’s a nicer day, for one thing.  Luckily, the rain ended by 1:00 making the rest of the day pleasant and sunny, albeit a bit muddy.  However, being a guy who wants to get the most out of a music festival, I was there bright and early … in the rain. 

The Antlers got the Budweiser stage going for the day.  Having seen them once before at Massey Hall, I wondered beforehand how their lush, moody music would go over in an outdoor festival setting.  Of course it went over perfectly … because of the rain, not in spite of it.  Frontman Peter Silberman put it best: “Thanks for coming out in the rain.  We’re from New York so we’re used to it.  We’re  not really a surf pop band so this is probably better.”  They played to a smallish but rapt audience, some with umbrellas, some without, but even those without didn’t mind getting a little wet.  The Antler’s set led to the only real scheduling mix up of the day.  As they finished playing “Two,” I figured their set must be done as they had like 2 minutes left in their set and The Antlers definitely do not play two minute songs.  As they launched into “Wake,” I thought, “Hmmm… how will this play out?”  They continued to play, going slightly past their set and into that of The Dodos, who were playing the stage right across from them immediately afterwards.  The Dodos, not wanting to lose out on their alotted time, just started playing at the same time.  I’m sure this wasn’t an intentional snub on the part of The Antlers, and for all I know they had to start their set late, but it was a bit of a blemish on an otherwise well organized schedule. 

The Antlers

I wanted to check out The Cribs for one primary reason – to see Johnny Marr play.  Not being overly familiar with them, I figured it would be a good set, but it turned out to be really good.  They won me over with their high energy performance.  Definitely one of the highlights of the day.

The Cribs 

The other big highlight of the day as well as a pleasant surprise was X Japan, a Japanese metal band formed in 1982 who play an interesting mix of power metal, prog, glam metal and old school speed metal.  In other words, they stuck out like a sore thumb on the bill. 

They broke up in 1997 and are currently on a reunion tour.  This was their first ever American show.  I knew very little about the band going in and was a little bummed that they were on opposite Yeasayer, who I really wanted to see, but I figured I can see Yeasayer again and I’m fairly certain I won’t get a chance to see X Japan again.  And what can I say?  This band was glorious.  They pretty much match Lady Gaga and Empire of the Sun for over the top theatricality.  As they entered to some piped in intro music, a small group of dedicated hardcore fans cheered loudly.  Shortly thereafter, many more of us were instantly converted into fans.  My favourite bandmember to watch was drummer Yoshiki, who entered wearing some sort of robe, wore a neckbrace throughout the show, and switched between drums and piano.  He also performed on the 1994 Kiss tribute album Kiss My Ass.  I bought that album on cassette back then and thought, “Who the hell is Yoshiki?”  Now I know.  Rather than say too much about their performance, I’ll just let these videos of their performance do the talking.  “We Are!” “X!”

After X, I figured I’d stay in that vicinity and check out Erykah Badu.  Big mistake.  While I was interested in seeing her and while she sounded good when she finally came out, little did I know that she wouldn’t even grace us with her presence on stage until 15 minutes into her set!  Those 15 minutes were filled first with her DJ playing other people’s music to warm up the crowd (which is fair enough since the Japanese metal that preceded her probably didn’t fit the mood she wanted to create, but still…) and her backup band jamming on some tune for awhile.  Had i known she would take this long, I probably would have gone to check something else out (which I eventually did).  Badu would later reappear onstage with Cypress Hill during their set, and Cypress Hill put on a great show.  Opening strong with “How I Could Just Kill A Man,” they played a mix of old and new songs, including classics like “Insane In The Brain.” “I Wanna Get High.” and “Hits From The Bong,” the performance of which actually involved them taking hits from a bong onstage.  

Cypress Hill

MGMT played just before Cypress Hill at the other end of the park to one of the largest crowds of the day.  While Sarah wasn’t overly impressed with their performance at Coachella, and Ricky echoed those sentiments after seeing their most recent Toronto show, I would have to say that my opinion differs slightly.  Looking a bit like mid ’60s Bob Dylan, Andrew VanWyngarden led the band through a selection of songs from their latest Congratulations, plus a few older tunes.  The songs sounded good, and the band was tight.  I couldn’t see anything wrong with their performance … but I do agree somewhat that it was still a bit of an underwhelming performance for me at least, probably partly because I was looking forward to Cypress Hill, Soundgarden, and Arcade Fire and partly because they weren’t as over the top as X Japan. 

I split the rest of the night between Soundgarden and Arcade Fire.    Both bands delivered solid sets that satisfied for different reasons – Soundgarden primarily as nostalgia.  As I watched them play I had forgotten how heavy songs like “Jesus Christ Pose” and “Gun” sounded.  Sadly, I left to catch the last part of Arcade Fire before they played Black Hole Sun, but there’s a whole bunch of videos of it on youtube anyways, so I guess that’ll do.  Arcade Fire sounded great too, closing out with a few classics like “Rebellion (Lies),” “Keep The Car Running,” and “Wake Up.”  You guys are great,” said Win Butler, clearly impressed with the response he was getting from the crowd.  “Usually at the end of festivals, people are burned out, but you guys must have been pacing yourselves.”  It’s all about moderation I guess.

Soundgarden

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