Here’s our writer Michael Zonenashvili’s review of the second day of Lollapalooza. All images are provided by the official Lollapalooza Flickr page and most of the videos from the Lollapalooza YouTube page.
The last time I saw Phantogram was in a dark, one-hundred person venue. This time, they were the first band I caught on the second day of Lollapalooza. They had the luxury of convincing me that I could stand up and brave the crowds for the second most difficult day. I, on the other hand, had the luxury of seeing a great performance, unhindered by the time slot and bolstered by the addition of a live drummer. Opening with “Running From the Cops,” Phantogram displayed their mix of deep electronic elements, borderline sexy beats, and overwhelming style. The vocals bouncing between Sara and Josh meshed well, the guitar playing was ever subtle yet necessary, and the setlist short and sweet. “Mouthful of Diamonds” was a definite highlight, with the bass resonating regardless of not having walls to bounce off of.
Everyone seems to only have enough words to write only about Ed MacFarlane’s dancing. Yes, it’s entertaining. Yes, he’s super into it and has great presence. Yet, people tend to leave out an important element about Friendly Fires: Their music translates wonderfully live. Opening with “Lovesick”, the bassline melding with two drummers and a horn section had the crowd half emulating Ed’s dance moves. The guitar layered over the music was perfect, whether through sliding a maraca over the strings or simply providing the sonic bottom layer to the music. Nailing a great mix of both albums in only forty-five minutes, Friendly Fires showed off why they’re so popular in Europe and deserve the same attention in the US. “On Board” built to its breaking point as Ed entered the festival crowd, sending the camera crew on the stage into a frenzy to capture the magic happening off of the stage. “Kiss of Life” closed the performance with one of the most chest pounding outros, a drum jam picking up in tempo over time until nearly the entire band’s limbs were at breakneck speed on their instruments or dancing.
Dom is the asshole friend that you have to love. “This song is called Jesus, Hail Satan” began “Jesus.” “This one is called BRO-Chicha” began “Bochicha.” Seemingly unenthused as usual, fitting for the fuzzy indie rock he makes, Dom’s performance was exactly what you’d want. Grabbing from their EP ridden repertoire, the band brings a more garage-y than electronic performance live. Shreddy guitar solos adorned “Living In America” (Dom’s “Creep”, even more unenthused than the other tracks) and the band busted out a cover of The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” made the audience forget that Dom still haven’t put out a full length album, too distracted by this solid live act.
Death From Above 1979:
Sadly, I was only in middle school when the hardcore dance-punk outfit took the music world by storm. At least I read they took the music world by storm. Luckily, now they’re back and I was able to see why they were so relevant when I was only discovering that Radiohead existed. Jesse F. Keeler can make some great sounds with his bass, and he can write some awesome riffs. Seabastian Grainger has the energy to shout and snarl through short, punchy tracks while blast-beating away on a drumset. Perhaps this was the only moshpit I saw at Lollapalooza, and perhaps I would’ve preferred to see this band when they were playing dingy clubs. But, even on an enormous stage the band was loud and ballsy, making a lot of noise for just two people. In nearly the same timeslot I saw the Black Keys play the stage last year, it felt like I was seeing their evil twins. Their evil twins, it seemed, could probably beat them up.
Local Natives have it all going for them: stellar harmonies, a phenomenal first release, and an impressive live show. Nailing almost the entirety of Gorilla Manor, planning out the setlist to ebb and flow nicely, Local Natives stayed cool in front of their largest audience to date. The tense moments before the big-riff of “Sun Hands” had the audience waiting for the moment, “Warning Sign” was the closest anyone got to David Byrne all weekend, and “Airplanes” had the audience try to sing in harmony. The band mentioned they’d soon be returning to the studio to record a second album, and strangely I found myself wanting to hear a new song live. Sadly, we didn’t get a taste of what’s to come. Although, we did get another reminder that we should expect nothing less than greatness.
Cee Lo’s set was my high school prom. A cheesy mix of covers and medleys, and unflattering rearrangements of what the audience wanted to hear. Bookending the set with covers of Danzig’s “Mother” and “Don’t Stop Believing” might say enough of the set, but even songs such as “Crazy” and “Fuck You” seemed like karaoke. Constantly stopping songs to urge us to be louder, the female backing band that seems to have a new member with each appearance, and the god-awful Koopa outfit made Cee-Lo’s set campy beyond belief, a mixtape created by someone to serve up to the crowd at prom.
My Morning Jacket:
If you aren’t an avid listener of My Morning Jacket, you were probably at the Eminem stage. If you’re a casual listener of My Morning Jacket, it might not have been the most fun set of the weekend, but it might’ve been the most impressive set before you left to see Eminem/Beirut/Pretty Lights. If you were a My Morning Jacket fan, you made up the most pleasantly uncrowded and enthralled crowd of the weekend. With a couple more inches between fans than the most crowded sets of the weekend, My Morning Jacket put on a show that dispelled any beliefs that they aren’t “Big enough” to headline the festival.
Having claimed that they were the best set of Bonnaroo for the past two months, I wondered if my newfound fandom for the group would be tarnished by them not being as great as I remembered. I was wrong. Going through every single song that absolutely needed to be played, and even combining songs to get through more material(Smokin’ From Shooting/Run Thru), the band put on the best performance of the weekend. Jim James shuffled around, thrashed, headbanged, and even powerslid across the stage while hitting every note, including the high pitched squeals at the end of “Wordless Chorus.”
The extended jams on songs reinforced by beliefs that MMJ is the jam band for those who hate jam bands: the extra eight minutes tacked onto “Dondante” had the audience raising open hands into the air to soak in the solos. Even a broken string on “One Big Holiday” didn’t stop the band from their thunderous outro. Then again, nothing can stop My Morning Jacket: they play for two or more hours in intense heat while wearing suits, sometimes in addition to capes and scarves. And you know what? Those capes and scarves are totally okay.