Winner of Lollapalooza Sunday: Of Monsters and Men.
Let me explain to you how amazing Of Monsters and Men are: I was bled on, copiously, by a stranger while waiting for this set to start, and yet I ended it with a ginormous grin on my face. They’re that good. Having read Ricky’s post in April about their show at the Phoenix Theater, I knew that I needed to experience the magic. Sure enough, approximately 20 seconds into their set, I already had that warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach. Lead singers Hilmarsdóttir and ÞórhallssonI (the band is Icelandic) have voices that play off each other beautifully, and they’re backed impeccably by horns, drums, accordions and tambourines. Hilmarsdóttir’s vocals shine in particular – she sounds like what I would imagine a nicotine-addicted angel would: throaty and angelic.
I feel impelled to give a shout-out to the crowd at this set as well – best crowd ever (except, of course, for the one losing her life force all over my legs). Everyone was under 5’6’’ so I had a perfect view of the stage, they brought bubbles, streamers, and blow up birthday cakes, which were all tossed in the air at the exact correct moments, and everyone was as appropriately appreciative of this amazing band as they should have been. Well done guys!
Best bluegrass act of Lollapalooza Sunday: The Devil Makes Three.
I had already created this category in my mind before heading to Lolla on Sunday, knowing that Trampled by Turtles would take the prize. Shnope! Just kidding! While Trampled by Turtles was excellent in their own right, The Devils Makes Three came out of nowhere, jammin’ like nobody’s business to snatch that title. The trio hails from Santa Cruz and consists of a guitar, a banjo and a upright bass (if your band has an upright bass you win, but if your band has an enthusiastic, female upright bassist then you double win.) The threesome put on an incredibly high energy show for the crowd, who made up for their small
size by doubling their enthusiasm – I’ve never seen a group of people break out into so many small, simultaneous hoedowns.
Least impressive act of Lollapalooza Sunday: Sigur Ros.
I would give Sigur Ros my “Most ‘meh’ act of Lollapalooza Sunday” category, but as I see it, Sigur Ros doesn’t even make it that far. This band confuses me. I know there’s something I’m missing – I have friends with great taste in music who love them. In my opinion though, Sigur Ros commits the two cardinal sins of band-hood: they make music that is not only unappealing, it’s also boring. (I already feel bad for writing that – for those who disagree, just chalk it up to my heat stroke).
Most pleasant surprise of Lollapalooza Sunday: The Walkmen.
The Walkmen toured with Fleet Foxes back in 2011, which is when the band came to my attention. I’m a big Fleet Foxes fan, so I looked up the Walkmen thinking that I would probably enjoy them as well. I was completely nonplussed with what I found, so when I saw they were coming to Lollapalooza I was unenthusiastic. My plan was to head from Trampled by Turtles to Gary Clark Jr., but when Trampled by Turtles finished their set and I turned to walk towards the Playstation Stage, I found myself facing the Sony Stage, where an impeccably suited-up man with a massive set of lungs was belting out some seriously wiggle-inducing music, and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I’m not sure what it is about their live performance that makes it so distinctive from their recorded music for me – I think their recorded material sounds just a little more punk than their live performance, which has a little more finesse to it, which apparently makes all the difference.
Best all female band of Lollapalooza Sunday: Dum Dum Girls.
I constantly bemoan the fact that there aren’t more all female bands out there (it just seems odd to me that there are so many solo female acts – Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine, Santigold, M.I.A., Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj – and yet the indie world, as well as most other genres of music, almost completely lacks for female bands.) Which is why I was thrilled that
a) Lollapalooza had an all female band and
b) I super enjoyed them.
Overall winner of Lollapalooza: JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound.
This one was a fight to the death between Of Monsters and Men and JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, but in the end the element of pure surprise and joy that came with showing up 30 minutes early for the set I was planning on seeing, only to find myself faced with the world’s most charismatic front-man of a post-punk, retro, R&B group doing his “weed dance” clinched it for me. You know that when you find yourself laughing with delight multiple times during a concert that the band is doing something right. If you happen to be local to Chicago, get ready to make these guys your hometown sweethearts, and if you’re not local to Chicago, get ready to see these guys when they tour. Awesome.