Lollapalooza 2011 Day 3 Review

For our final day of coverage of Lollapalooza, our writer Michael Zonenashvili would have to make the most difficult decision of the weekend: Foo Fighters or Deadmau5? Find out which he chose below. (Photos courtesy of Lollapalooza Flickr page)

The Joy Formidable:

The Joy Formidable by Matt Ellis

The best set that could possibly happen so early in the morning. The UK’s Joy Formidable could play the extended outro of “Whirring” as an entire set and I’d be more than fine with it. What preceded that closing song, was a quick slew of songs from the thunderous album “The Big Roar.” The crowd clapped along without any prompt from the band, only encouragement after already starting, Ritzy Bryan saying, “Fuck yeah! Keep doing that.” Massive double kick drums, all the bass strings hit at once, and Ritzy’s army of guitars compact into one made it the loudest non-headlining show of the weekend. I always like to consider Ritzy Bryan to be the My Bloody Valentine incarnate that’s actually listenable/discernible. But yeah, back to that outro. A ten minute extended version of “Whirring” concluded the set, complete with Ritzy and crew thrashing their instruments, meddling with pedals, and Ritzy smashing a guitar into a gong. A perfect wake up call.

Noah and The Whale:

Noah & The Whale by Matt Ellis

I came to the stage expecting a cheery, ukulele ridden, completely inappropriate for a main stage set. Only one of those rang true. Being clad in matching suits was not the only thing that made Noah and the Whale seem like they were trying to be The National. New songs were droney and little too post-breakup to keep the crowd interested. The violin that cut through all their album tunes shifted from whimsical to eerie, and the songs as grey as the suits. A ukulele wasn’t the only thing missing from the most anticipated track, “Five Years Time.” Replaced with a guitar, and stripped of all charm, the song had me(and seemingly others) completely disengaged. Perhaps they would’ve just been better suited for the stage in the shade.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. hasn’t given up their shtick. They still came out in racing suits, only to strip them off before starting to play – it is hot, after all. I hadn’t yet seen them post-album release, but a little did change. Even more tight on the harmonies, on point with dynamics, and with no decrease in enthusiasm. Even stage banter was inspired and sincere, balancing between cheesy cuteness and festival-y togetherness. My only complaint is that they traded their cover of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” for a Celine Dion one. Probably not a career defining move, but it’s not too late to go back.

The Cars:
The Cars by Steve Wrubel

“I should learn how to play that one.” murmured Ric Ocasek following the career defining “Just What I Needed.” Even he knew something was up, and that’s what made the set a little disappointing. Compared to last year’s “legacy” act, Devo, The Cars made me feel old and dated themselves as well. Can’t blame it on being tired of old tunes; even new songs from “Move Like This” lacked enthusiasm and volume. The audience awkwardly bobbed to “My Best Friend’s Girl” as I sat on a hill and feared the impending storm.

Arctic Monkeys:
Arctic Monkeys by Jack Edinger

Delayed by thirty minutes due to the second strongest storm of the weekend, the Arctic Monkeys refrained from making too many jokes about the weather and got straight to the music. It was a shame that after every song I’d have to actively hope that the next one wasn’t from “Humbug,” but songs from “Suck It And See” melded well with old tracks, and the band luckily got a 45 minute set instead of being cut down to 30 by the storm. Just enough time to appease the crowd with songs like “Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” and “When the Sun Goes Down” that were significantly more enthused and energized than when played on the “Humbug” tour. Maybe all Alex needed was a haircut, but whatever it was, the band is starting to get their groove back.

Explosions in the Sky:
Explosions in the Sky by Dave Mead

Every time, Explosions in the Sky is a completely cathartic experience without even needing lyrics. Perfect buildups to even better payoffs riddle their extremely precise set. An artistic approach to volume and crescendo establishes the band as one deserving of their almost religious following. Perhaps there were only previous fans at the stage, others walking by to see the Foo Fighters and wondering “why aren’t they singing yet?” but those fans were into it. The crowd would be at Explosions’ side until the rain washed the set away, and the Foos started to blast across the park.

Deadmau5 by Matt Ellis

I passed up seeing a stadium rock band to see a DJ I hate. Was it worth it? Completely. After the brief, torrential storm that turned any blade of grass left on Grant Park into mud, we had all potentially garnered pneumonia but had made it to the North Stage. Upon passing the hill to the stage, we had the first glimpse at Deadmau5’s massive production. His famed Cube setup was bolstered by more lights and crazy rigging, and apparently that was only about half the setup that was allowed with the weather. The Deadmau5 set had an entire field dancing and jumping in mud, and I guess something converted me. Seeing everyone in a field lose their collective shit regardless of being covered in god knows what was exciting. Even the remix of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” was tasteful, a nice nod to the band that everyone hopes will headline Lolla with each announcement released.

Deadmau5 was able to convince thousands of people to opt out of returning to their hotel to shower, in favor of being dirty and listening to some great beat drops accompanied with great lighting and design. And fine, I don’t hate him, “Ghosts n Stuff” is a pretty fun one, I admit.

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