Lolla 2012 Recap: Day Three
All good things come to an end… or at least take a break until coming back next year. Such is Lollapalooza. Here’s Day 3.
Overdoz – Andrew
I started my day with this four-piece LA hip-hop collective at the small BMI Stage. Their set reminded me of early 90s hip-hop that veers to the funky side. Despite the chill vibe of their recent mixtape Live For, Die For, they performed with intense energy and crowd interaction, not to mention pulling off a handful of successful stage dives.
Trampled By Turtles – Gene
Duluth, Minnesota’s most famous bluegrass quintet (that’s got to be accurate) graced the Red Bull Soundstage on Sunday afternoon, providing Lollapalooza with one of its more relaxed sets. I found a little bit of shade, spiked some iced tea and settled in for what proved to be an eye-opening show. TBT didn’t do anything dramatic, but their songs carried an idyllic sentimentality that had me suddenly wanting to escape to country life. While that urge didn’t last long, the band made enough of an impression with their crystalline string arrangements and polished vocals to leave me wanting more. It would’ve been nice to see them bust out their usually taut, glistening cover of The Pixies “Where is my Mind?,” though.
Dum Dum Girls – Gene
Dum Dum Girls are one of those bands that sounds like they were born in the wrong decade. While their most recent Sub Pop release, Only in Dreams, evokes a lot of Mazzy Star comparisons, the Dum Dum Girls’ performance at the shady Google Play stage had more edge and elasticity than that association would suggest. Opting for a grungy, nicotine-pop closer to the likes of Joey Ramone and Iggy Pop than Hope Sandoval, Dum Dum frontwoman Kristin “Dee Dee” Gundred led her band through a tight set that, while great at Lolla, would’ve been perfect for a divey rock club.
Sigur Ros – Andrew
I was skeptical about watching this orchestral Icelandic group perform in the middle of the afternoon; I don’t think I’ve ever listened to them when it wasn’t dark out. But they were definitely one of the most compelling sets of the festival. Anticipating the issue Frank experienced at Windy City Rock, I moved up closer to the stage where the crowd was more respectful to the band, as they moved through a set that surprisingly focused more on 2005’s Takk and 2000’s Agaetis Byrjun than this year’s Valtari. The stand out for me was definitely “Hafsol,” which begins with the bassist playing his strings with a drumstick, a tale that rises and falls until its cathartic, trumpet-blaring culmination. With guitars played with bows and vocals expressed with a forehead (not to mention an actual piano, vibraphone, and various string, brass and woodwind instruments), Sigur Ros had a set that more than stood out this weekend.
Amadou and Miriam – Andrew
Guh. It took forever to get from the south side of the park to the north so I missed more than half their set (seemed like everyone was getting food at this point too). For those that were there, the husband and wife team from Mali performed to a mid-afternoon audience with still enough energy to dance (and get a conga line goin’) or simply find a spot in the shade to take in the afro-soul jams.
Florence + The Machine – Gene
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from the UK’s Florence + The Machine, but the last thing I saw coming was both the size and diversity of the crowd. Their unoffensive brand of soulful rock is something I’ve never minded as background music, but aside from my initial curiosity in their cover of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” I’d not been impressed. And hell, even that song is overshadowed by Kim Gordon’s heroin-drawl on Ciccone Youth’s 1988 cover of the same tune. Needless to say, when I saw packs of Bud-swilling bros and mohawked punks sprinkled throughout the expected Feist-demographic audience, I took note.
Florence Welch, the vocal force behind The Machine, stunned me more than a handful of times with both her range and panache. Her band backed the fragility of her delivery with thunderous percussion and subtle harp embellishments, combining for an impressively dynamic and versatile sound. “Rabbit Heart” was layered with a spirit and punch I still find lacking on the recording, and stood out as one of highlights of The Machine’s set. A new song, “Breath of Life,” sounding crisp in its first performance, was an elegant, piano-driven ballad with a calculated unravel at the end that totally paid off. While the band’s hit single “Dog Days Are Over” was the crowd’s favorite (and deservedly so, as I found it impossible not to want to join Flo in running around onstage smiling), “Shake It Out” absolutely stole the show. Florence stretched over voice the song’s delicate angles, moving deliberately through the song until it’s end. That end found The Machine going unexpectedly dance party on the crowd, channeling Benny Benassi’s popular remix for its conclusion. Florence bounced with the crowd as her voice soared above the synths, and I came away damn impressed.
The Big Pink – Gene
Regrettably I only managed to see a couple songs by new wave-meets-5-Hour-Energy rockers The Big Pink, but what I did catch grabbed hold of the Jagermeister in my blood and shook it up. The group’s infectious hooks and airy vocals worked in perfect unision; a sonic adrenaline shot that propelled me across the park to see some of Miike Snow. I wouldn’t advise missing these guys next time they roll through town. I sure as hell won’t.
Miike Snow – Andrew
Happy to You is one of my favorite albums this year so needless to say, I was excited for this. While the band’s given up their nondescript (read: creepy) white masks, I think it’s for better effect. The electronic side of their music can sound robotic, they’re attention to subtle song-writing is entirely human. Between the crowd-surfing for “Pretender,” addicting keyboard leads, and extended outros for many songs (best attributed in “Animal”), it was a set that surpassed expectations. Not a band to miss in the future.
Childish Gambino – Andrew
After catching the beginning of Jack White, I had to go see what Childish Gambino could pull. Better known as Donald Glover (Community star, former 30 Rock writer, and part of the sketch troop Derrick Comedy), Gambino is more about rhymes than jokes on stage. Save for the seizure-inducing light show, he and the set didn’t “tank” as Hipster Runoff likes to “report“. High energy with meta-lyrics playing mostly from last year’s Camp (including emo-tinged fan favorite “Heartbeat”) and the recently dropped American Royalty mixtape.
Jack White – Gene
Pardon the blasphemy all you White Stripes fans, but this didn’t feel like a headliner to me. At least not going in. I’ve never been the biggest fan of this former garage duo; they’re fine and all, but save a few exceptions they’re awfully redundant. Seeing that imposing two-hour block on the schedule sectioned off for what I feared could be one long three-chord jam had me anxious (though not anxious enough to brave electronic duo Justice). White ended up turning in a fine performance that eased most of my concerns and had me rocking out with the rest of the muddy masses.
Infinitely more enjoyable with a full band behind him, Jack White seemed to relish in jamming with all that extra muscle. His set was a mixture of new material, stuff from his time with The Stripes and The Raconteurs, and “Two Against One,” from last year’s collaboration with Danger Mouse. In one of those is-this-obnoxious-kitsch-or-is-it-actually-kinda-cool moments, the scraggly-looking rocker switched backing bands mid-set, playing half his show with The Buzzards (an all-male ensemble) and half with The Peacocks (you guessed it, all chicks). The biggest surprise of the set was the brilliance of “Hotel Yorba,” a jangly White Stripes romp performed with a freshly Americana-twinge thanks to a standup bass, fiddle and key (courtesy of The Peacocks). While “Yorba” had the crowd unsure whether to mosh or square dance, the sweaty southern crunch of “Blue Blood Blues” left no mysteries.
White did essentially jam for two hours, but it wound up being a wonderful thing. Festival organizers might still have been smart to let RHCP close out the fest, but White’s encore of favorites like “Steady As She Goes” and “Seven Nation Army” was appropriately epic and cathartic. The star of that encore wound up being “Freedom at 21,” from his solo debut, Blunderbuss. The song’s more-intricate-than-Stripes percussion gave White new mountains to climb with his guitar and his vocals, and the resulting thunder almost justified his place as a headliner by itself.
Gene’s Lollapalooza Awards:
- Best Set for Dancing: Passion Pit, Franz Ferdinand
- Best Set for Being High: Sigur Ros
- Best Set for Falling in Love: Sharon Van Etten
- Best Set for Breaking Up: Dum Dum Girls
- Best New Discovery: Los Jaivas, Polica
- Delivered on Expectations: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, tUnE-yArDs
- Exceeded Expectations: Florence + The Machine
- Did Not Meet Expectations: M83
- Best Thing I Ate: Strawberry Lemonade cream puff from Puffs of Doom (see Andrew’s Food Recap below for more info on good eats!)
- Best Thing I Drank: The Belvedere Seabreeze at The Hard Rock Hotel
- Biggest Disappointment: Fans chanting “USA” and “Fuck The Police” during the Day 2 evacuation
- Worst shtick: Ozzy repeatedly telling the crowd, “I can’t fucking hear you!” (because it was probably true)
- Worst Decision I’ve Made In My Entire Life: Seeing Die Antwoord instead of The Head & The Heart, or, well, anyone else
- What I Want For Next Year: A DIY Stage, a Hot Doug’s stand, the Tamale Guy
- What I Don’t Want to See Back: Electronic music on main stages
Andrew’s Lollapalooza Food Recap:
I was disappointed to see Sola was no longer there, and Gene and I agree that Kuma’s, while certainly will always be Kuma’s, was actually a bit underwhelming this time around. Everyone knows how great the Lobster Corndog from Grahamwich is, so I decided to try some new bites this year, all of them turned out to be fantastic.
I scarfed this thing down right before Frank Ocean’s Saturday night set. A bacon-wrapped hotdog with teriyaki, Japanese mayo and Godzilla toppings, while not as monstrously-spicy as that sounds, was an all-around flavor joyride.
Australian Truffle’s Grilled Cheese
I must have looked like I was enjoying this, because someone walking by actually stopped in their tracks to ask me what it was. I explained that it was the best grilled cheese I’d ever had. Three slices of thick Black Forest ham combined with rich, truffle Brie on bread that was on the grill for a perfect amount of time for that perfect crunch… it was unreal. I’ll never look at that simple sandwich the same way again.
River Valley Ranch’s Portabella Mushroom Tamales
Having just discussed with Gene how great the Tamale Guy walking around the park would be, I stumbled across this gem in the Farmer’s Market. Surprisingly filling with a nice kick in the salsa they put on it, tamales were a quick way to refuel without waiting in the lines that form along the main Chow Town blocks.
See you next year, Lollapalooza!