Lollapalooza | 08.07-08.09 | Chicago

Words by: Wesley Hodges & Cal Roach | Images by: Dave Vann & Chad Smith

Lollapalooza :: 08.07.09 – 08.09.09 :: Grant Park :: Chicago, IL

Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
It'd be hard to find a better-suited urban environment to host such an ambitious and enormous multi-day music festival than Grant Park. Set in a large, albeit slender, plot of land about a mile long and a couple hundred yards wide sandwiched between Lake Michigan and the stunning Chicago skyline, there is something inherently unique about this festival, and its influence on other alternative American music festivals is undeniable. As The Knux's Kentrell "Krispy Kream" Lindsey told JamBase, "Lollapalooza was the first of its kind, having something from almost every genre and fathering in the groundbreaking style of festival that all present day fests have followed since Lollapalooza's conception." Karla Muench, a Chicago public school teacher told JamBase that the best thing about Grant Park as a concert venue is "the view all around. You look one way, you see the lake, look the other and you see the skyline, look another way and you see Soldier Field."

No other American music festival of this scale is as easily accessible within a major metropolitan area. Krispy Kream also mentioned, "Most festivals are in rural areas that are very hard to access and Lolla is in Chicago, one of the biggest cities in the U.S." With public transportation all around, top-notch restaurants, clubs and music venues all within earshot of the park and enough history to write an epic about, Lollapalooza truly is a one-of-a-kind, albeit ephemeral, urban utopia. With enough quality bands to please the most fickle of music fans and after hours shows in just about every venue each night, there was little time to sleep this weekend and JamBase was more than happy to sacrifice some shut eye to soak it all in and give our beloved readers a full report. (WH)

Friday, 08.07

The Knux - 1:00-1:45 p.m., Citi Stage

Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
Day one was a challenge for even the most road-hardened of music fans as unrelenting rain blanketed the early Lolla crowds for the first five hours of the festival. Unfazed, we headed on over to the Citi Stage to check out The Knux. Early in the weekend the fans were riled up and still light on their feet as Krisp asked the youthful crowd, "Who's ready to see some amazing music?" Getting hands up early, the rap duo's rabble rousing, humorously irreverent style, reminiscent of N.E.R.D. was the perfect party starter for what would be a marathon weekend of world-class music. (WH)

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - 1:00-2:00 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears tried to get booties shaking early on with their generic '70s funk, but they lacked three key ingredients for success in this field - a singer not blatantly impersonating James Brown, a seriously distinctive guitarist or other instrumentalist, and a cache of standout original songs. I guess they were playing their own songs, but they were in a singles bar cover band zone. (CR)

The Builders And The Butchers - 1:45-2:30 p.m., BMI Stage

I was able to duck out to the north for a bit to catch The Builders And The Butchers, a party band with a much more original sound. They blend rhythm-driven folk styles heavy on the mandolin with hip-hop and punk inflections, sort of like a high-speed urban bluegrass. What I saw was fun and engaging, and I wished I could stay under the shelter of the trees at the BMI Stage all weekend. Friday featured a nagging drizzle that fluctuated through all levels of annoying almost the whole day, and none of the main stages are near any reasonable shelter. (CR)

The Gaslight Anthem - 2:00-3:00 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

Perry & Etty Lau Farrell (wife)
Lollapalooza 2009 by Smith
New Brunswick's The Gaslight Anthem did get on my nerves initially. It seems there's a new Springsteen imitator springing up every day, and Brian Fallon is more blatant than most. Plus, the band's whole sound struck me as just a little too Hold Steady-meets-Kings-Of-Leon. So, how did it end up winning me over? I think it was the earnest empathy from Fallon, who seems too green for rock star contrivance, and an edgy depth to the songs that tempered the soaring ambition just enough. "Boomboxes And Dictionaries" was a particularly raw dose of soulful rock, and closer "The Backseat," with a "Lost In The Supermarket" quote sandwiched inside, amounted to a perfect working-class nugget. (CR)

Perry's Dance Area Introduction and Dark Wave Disco - 2:45-3:45 p.m., Perry's

My crew headed northward towards Bon Iver, but not before making our first stop at Perry's, an impressive venue entirely devoted to dance music that Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell described to JamBase as "a hybrid area with the ability to accommodate 10,000 people. It's not a dance tent, we like it under trees. It's a custom built DJ Tower that has LED screens, new DJ software with fresh capabilities so that the young people that are producing this music and creating their own videos will be able to do all this and work their machinery on stage."

The party atmosphere was emanating from Perry's as DJ Trancid managed to encapsulate the entire vibe of Lollapalooza past, present and future in the first three minutes by sampling Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" seamlessly into a slowed down, pitched up twist on MGMT's "Kids" as a horde of young fans formed a tribal dance circle while passing around a shoe (much like "The Conch" in Lord of the Flies) signifying the leader of the makeshift dance troupe. The realm of dance music has undoubtedly bled into the mainstream as evidenced by such popular artists as Santigold, MGMT and the huge crowds at Perry's throughout the weekend providing further evidence of the burgeoning acceptance of the medium. (WH)

Bon Iver - 3:00-4:00 p.m., Playstation Stage

Bon Iver :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
Bon Iver took the stage for an ill-timed set as the rain continued to pour down. Justin Vernon's glowing, pastoral harmonies weren't enough to keep the audience's attention as many people only stuck around for a few songs after hearing the band's surprise underground hit "Skinny Love" in the early portion of the set. The North End of the park contains two stages, with the larger main Budweiser Stage backed up to the end of the park and the Playstation Stage tucked in the area's opposite corner making for a quick and easy scoot to the other stage to see Mr. Folds. (WH)

Heartless Bastards - 3:00-4:00 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Clearly, the Heartless Bastards weren't about to get the dance party started in earnest; so, for me, this was the most unfortunate scheduling choice of the day. I'll give singer Erika Wennerstrom some credit for coming off a lot like Chan Marshall, but with actual stage presence. She is the clear focal point of the band, the first of many charismatic, intriguing female artists on this year's Lolla stages. The other two guys were another story, either confined within the droney constraints of the songs or just not able to assert themselves. In another setting, this could have been an hour of pastoral dirtiness, harnessing the crawling beauty of old My Morning Jacket, but in the middle of an afternoon of mostly uptempo music, amidst a dreary rainstorm, this set just lost me. (CR)

STS9 - 4:00-5:00 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

STS9 :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
STS9 was poised to be the antidote to the Bastards. An opening combo "Shock Doctrine" and "Atlas" popped and crackled, getting at least the actual Sound Tribe fans moving, although much of the soaked crowd seemed pretty lethargic. The flow did hit somewhat of a lull in the middle, but in the end it was a very well planned set. "EHM" began to build the momentum back up, "Rent" was the comfort food that everyone was waiting for, and "The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature" blew the roofs off the porta-potties, an earth-shaking bomb that also seemed to acknowledge our weather-themed predicament for the weekend. (CR)

Ben Folds - 4:00-5:00 p.m., Budweiser Stage

Ivory wunderkind Ben Folds took the Budweiser Stage to a largely sedate crowd and unfortunately had some problems with the sound mix early on. Always the showman, Folds managed to keep the audience engaged with his dazzling flourishes on the piano and unabashedly poppy lyrical hooks running through his staple cover of Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit" (always cracks me up to see the sideburned Folds summoning his inner '90s rapper) and new single "You Don't Know Me" before closing the set with the always enjoyable "Army," a song about the soul searching quarter-life period of living. Rain and music festivals are rarely a good mix and their was no end in sight as forecasts called for heavy rain and thunderstorms throughout the evening. (WH)

Crystal Castles - 5:00-6:00 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
What STS9 does with instruments (i.e. get people dancing), Crystal Castles continued to do with buttons and keys, without the jamming but with the added attraction of Canadian fireball Alice Glass. I was enthralled for the first 20 minutes or so. Ethan Kath kept the beats coming, never boring or too homogeneous, but Glass' jumping around and shrieking went from exciting to annoying after it became apparent that her shtick wasn't really going to vary much and it was impossible to understand any of the actual words (if there were any). Still, overall the music was good enough to offset the antics. (CR)

Fleet Foxes - 5:00-6:00 p.m., Playstation Stage

One of the biggest indie rock success stories of the decade (playing SNL only months after releasing their debut LP on Sub Pop), Fleet Foxes were one of the most anticipated shows of the weekend and the "beard rockers" (see Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket, and Bon Iver for other examples of this growing sub-genre) showered the poncho-wearing audience with their shimmering vocal harmonies and intricately arranged pastoral folk jams. Tunes like "Ragged Wood" had the crowd doing their best to sing-along with the gifted young band. The lighthearted banter between songs was a welcome diversion during tuning as drummer Josh Tillman offered to sublet his beard on Craigslist for the rest of the summer. In perhaps an attempt to part the clouds and end the relentless rainfall, the band opened their set with a pair of tracks off their debut Sun Giant EP, starting with the title cut before playing "Sun It Rises," a couple of lustrous tunes that couldn't conjure a break in the clouds. The Foxes' chills-inducing brand of folk rock reached its apex at the end of the set with the trio of "He Doesn't Know Why," the jaw-dropping "Mykonos" and "Blue Ridge Mountains" as the rain shockingly subsided for the remainder of the day, much to the relief of the sold out crowd in Grant Park. (WH)

Thievery Corporation - 6:00-7:00 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

Kevin Barnes - of Montreal :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Smith
Next came my first real Thievery Corporation set, and I was very quickly bummed that I'd missed the pre-party Thursday night. It wasn't just the impeccable grooves - you can get those on any of Thievery's records – or the talented guest singers (led by the seductive Emilíana Torrini) or the photogenic Rob Myers on sitar. It was the aura of awareness and positivity emanating from the stage and the juxtaposition of downtempo music and a rebellious bent that just caught me up in its swell. That's not to downplay the beats, and the infectious smiles on stage were reflected in the happy, dancing crowd, and the music never really stopped. So, even amidst rants against racial injustice and war, it was a joyous celebration at the Chicago 2016 Stage, and the highlight of the day for me. (CR)

Peter Bjorn & John - 6:30-7:30 p.m., Citi Stage

I was anxious to catch a little bit of Peter Bjorn & John's set and headed down to the Citi Stage to check out the Swedish indie pop trio. Some far out vocal effects translated well on stage for the live reading of "Objects of My Affection," then we drifted on down to the vitaminwater Stage for of Montreal. (WH)

of Montreal - 7:00-8:00 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Andrew Bird :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
The first of several glam rockers to appear at the fest over the weekend arrived in a dizzying array of colors and flamboyant feathered costumes to deliver a noise pop heavy set amidst the ongoing circus on stage. Not hiding their obvious influences, the band covered David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream," a tune that had frontman Kevin Barnes shrilling, "Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!" The crowd responded best to the gimmicks (smoke, confetti hoses, masks and lots of random dancers), but even people unfamiliar with the band were able to recognize and appreciate "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games," a song and melody synonymous with Outback Steakhouse and their delicious Bloomin' Onion. Androgynous, psychedelic and vaudevillian, of Montreal is guaranteed to bring something different to the table with each performance and they certainly left an impact on hordes of casual fans with this particular freak show rave up. (WH)

Andrew Bird - 7:00-8:15 p.m., PlayStation Stage

Kings of Leon :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
The dance party continued with of Montreal, but I had to check out native son Andrew Bird on the other end of the lengthy park. Bird has been evolving his songs on an almost daily basis for years now, although he has virtually abandoned everything he did prior to The Mysterious Production Of Eggs, his 2005 breakthrough album. As his quest for the perfect pop song has intensified, his live shows have often picked up the slack in instrumental dynamics, and he has definitely earned his second-to-last slot at the fest, but you wouldn't know it from this display. The energy simply wasn't there from any of the players, and the improv seemed like more of an intellectual exercise than a performance. I wouldn't say I'm losing faith in the guy, but unless this set was an anomaly, he is in real danger of at least temporarily disappearing up his own ass. (CR)

Kings Of Leon - 8:15-10:00 p.m., Budweiser Stage

I have to say I think Bird topped Kings Of Leon, though. Okay, I confess I was not a huge fan prior to this show, but I went out there with love for at least a couple of their songs and a real desire to be converted by their headlining set. But as usual, the overbearing impression I got from this band, intrusively from singer Caleb Followill in particular, is a suffocating need to be admired - rock star bravado without the substance to back it up. These guys write solid pop music that for some reason sounds like it's from England, no doubt about it. They also play that music competently on stage. I simply don't believe these emotions they're trying to project, the ones that produce the combustible sex. I hoped I'd feel like pumping my fist or banging my head or at least clapping rapturously at some point, but I was just bored.

As a partial concession to KoL, maybe I was just feeling the dance party that day. I caught the tail end of Crookers' set and thought it killed, and then Kid Cudi came on quickly and kept Perry's bumpin' for another half hour to close out my Friday. It was a welcome pick-me-up; I couldn't let the first day end in a nosedive. (CR)

Depeche Mode - 8:00-10:00 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

Depeche Mode :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Smith
A show many Stateside fans were anxiously awaiting, Depeche Mode took the stage just as of Montreal played their final notes to an uproarious and eager audience. The New Wave legends' influence on music is immeasurable - lead singer Petter Ericson Stakee of the British rock band Alberta Cross told JamBase that DM was probably the band's biggest influence and described lead singer Dave Gahan as "a god on stage." Live sampling and electronic dub segments have become so prevalent in mainstream rock music and much of that can be traced to Depeche Mode and their international popularity. As for the show, the band opened with a trio of new songs from Sounds of the Universe with "In Chains," the single "Wrong" and "Hole to Feed." Every headliner of the weekend had their own stunning visual display and DM's video wall fit their style well. For "In Chains" the screen featured an old white man's face next to a young black boy's face. As the song progressed, the faces slowly transformed until the old white man was the young black boy and vice versa.

The crowd dynamic was something I had only previously witnessed watching videos of Glastonbury as the entire audience swooned with their hands in the air as DM poured through their vast catalogue with hit songs like "Enjoy the Silence," "Personal Jesus," "Policy of Truth" and "A Question of Time" rousing the crowd to their highest levels of euphoria. Gahan's voice has a commanding power from the lower register that billows out clear as a bell all the way to the back of the field. Industrial strength drum lines and synth-ed out keyboards are Depeche's modus operandi and seeing it unfold in the flesh is something I would have never imagined if they hadn't been brought to the Lollapalooza stage. That's the beauty of an event like Lollapalooza, as Perry Farrell told us the Monday before the fest when asked what his favorite thing was about music festivals, simply offering, "Everyone wins, the musicians win, [the fans] get to hear the music that they've been listening to on their iPods or online all year. They get to actually see them perform. Everybody at the festival wins." (You can read the entire Perry Farrell interview here.) (WH)

Continue reading for Saturday's coverage of Lollapalooza... Saturday, 08.08

The Low Anthem - 12:00-12:45 p.m., vitaminwater Stage
Living Things - 12:45-1:30 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

Lollapalooza 2009 by Smith
Friday's rain gave way to a scorching weekend, but Saturday was still mostly tolerable. The Low Anthem seemed like it would be the perfect mellow start to the day, but I needed a bit more of a jumpstart than this set. Even the bursts of energy were of the lazy variety, which isn't inherently bad, just not terribly motivating. Living Things were not doing it either; they reminded me of latter-day INXS but even more generic, but I only stuck around for a few songs before walking to the Citi Stage for Constantines, the first major surprise of the weekend. (CR)

Delta Spirit - 12:30-1:30 p.m., Budweiser Stage

Delta Spirit is no stranger to the road or the festival circuit. Having cut their teeth opening for Cold War Kids, Dr. Dog and currently for The Shins, Matthew Vasquez and his bandmates seem at home on big stages as a result of their experiences traversing the country for 150-200 shows a year since forming in 2005. Vasquez commented on how great it was to play to such a huge early crowd saying, "We usually play for 200 people, so this is amazing." Delta Spirit's uplifting jangle soul rock and percussive backbeats were just the thing to get the early birds going as Vasquez beckoned the crowd shouting, "If you're feelin' what I'm feelin' come on/ All you soul-searching people c'mon!" Midway through the set, Vasquez took the mic and explained that it was his brother's wedding day and that he was supposed to be the best man so he decided to give him a call from the stage and get the crowd to help out with his unique wedding day gift by screaming, "Congratulations, Travis," into the phone. But seriously, what kind of brother gets married when his little brother is playing at Lollapalooza? No respect. The anthemic "Trashcan" was sandwiched between a short solo cover of Mark Dvorak's "The Streets of Old Chicago" and a loungy cover of Louis Armstrong's "St. James Infirmary" before the always rousing '60s style political plea "People, Turn Around" to close a brilliant set. (WH)

Constantines - 1:00-1:45 p.m., Citi Stage

Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
No prefixes or gimmicks or flash required; sometimes all you need for a great rock show is some good fucking songs, and Constantines have a bunch of those. Frontman Steve Lambke has a definite Joe Strummer/Roger Daltrey hybrid going on, and the band as a whole seems to have taken a lot of The Who's best qualities and updated them for the new millennium; "Young Offenders" could've been a modern day "Young Man Blues," and "Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)" felt like the sort of dubious rallying cry Pete Townshend used to come up with all the time. The set in a nutshell: solid songcraft plus tight, balls-out performance equals a kick-ass rock show. (CR)

Ida Maria - 2:15-3:00 p.m., Citi Stage

Possibly the "it" girl of the weekend, but unfortunately, what comes off as endearingly bratty pop on record becomes a tad obnoxious when she sings it live. It was still kinda fun, especially for the first few songs, but it began to grate pretty quickly. I suddenly realized that I'd become that guy, just waiting to hear the "Naked" song, so I took off. (CR)

Los Campesinos! - 2:30-3:30 p.m., Budweiser Stage

I figured I'd walk by Perry's en route to Los Campesinos! and see if Animal Collective's DJ set grabbed me. It didn't, but you can't help but be grabbed by the Welsh band with the Spanish name. These guys are nothing if not in your face. They are like electro-Vaselines; just as cute, but not cuddly. They have a lot of really good songs, but they all strike me as a bit sterile, like a bunch of clever jokes they don't think the audience gets. Maybe I just haven't let LC! sink in enough yet, but only "You! Me! Dancing!" really connected with me during this set. Major hipster points for covering Pavement's "Box Elder," though. (CR)

Atmosphere - 2:30-3:30 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage
DJ Kaskade - 1:30-2:30 p.m., Perry's
Langhorne Slim - 1:45-2:30 p.m., BMI Stage

Atmosphere:: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
Heading to the south side of Lolla, the trance beats of local DJ Kaskade were bumpin' through the trees in Perry's dance area and the train continued down to the shadiest little corner of the festival, the scantily attended BMI Stage, to briefly check out Langhorne Slim, a minstrel show style old-time folk rock trio in a similar vein as The Avett Brothers. The shade and foot-stomping music were a nice break before heading south again. Tongue-in-cheek hip-hop artist Atmosphere commented that his friends and critics don't take him seriously and then proceeded to tell us, "The only guarantee in life is a life worth dying for," before ad-libbing, "Now let's go make some smores." Equal parts social commentary and humor-driven rap, Atmosphere is a likeable, genuine hip-hop artist looking to have a good time on stage with a knack for making people laugh along the way. (WH)

Joe Pug - 3:00-3:45 p.m., BMI Stage

I had to catch a bit of Pug's set, and, as it turned out, it was the solo portion of the show, so the burgeoning Dylan parallels were acutely apparent. Yes, in lyrics, voice and harmonica, Pug is an awful lot like Dylan, but he does have something Bob always lacked - warmth. Besides, who wouldn't want to be called Chicago's new Dylan for the 21st century? Pug's songs, particularly the lyrics, are occasionally that good. (CR)

Gomez - 3:30-4:30 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Gomez :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
British jamband veterans Gomez took the vitaminwater Stage as Atmosphere was still rambling and delivered a mediocre mix of older material and songs from their equally middling latest effort, A New Tide. Most notable from the new LP was "Win Park Slope," a swampy romp that translated beautifully on this sunny afternoon. "Win Park Slope" segued into the "Bone Tired," as it does on the record, and many fans, including yours truly, scurried up the hill to the Citi Stage as a siren-like call beamed from the area where Chairlift was performing. (WH)

Chairlift - 3:30-4:30 p.m., Citi Stage

Like a less dancey, airy version of the Brazilian Girls, Chairlift is an interesting trio that mostly delivers dreamy soundscapes that would fit in perfectly on some tripped-out, foggy sunrise nature video with starlet lead vocalist Caroline Polachek's intoxicating voice zoning the listener into the material. My preconceived notions of this band prior to the weekend could not have been any further removed from reality, and I'm thankful at the opportunity to have seen them twice this weekend (I also caught their set at The Apple Store on Thursday with Passion Pit). (WH)

Coheed And Cambria - 4:30-5:30 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

I finally got to witness the phenomenon that is the Coheed And Cambria music factory. You know, it's a shame when such talented musicians devote their talents to such derivative, corny pursuits. Some maddeningly cool shit sometimes happened in the proggy interplay between the instruments, but as long as Claudio Sanchez is up there singing and playing his Satriani-on-steroids guitar, there's no escaping the cheese. And who was clamoring for a power metal makeover of The Church's "Under The Milky Way?" I couldn't help shuddering. (CR)

Arctic Monkeys - 4:30-5:30 p.m., Budweiser Stage

Arctic Monkeys :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
A huge crowd congregated around the Budweiser Stage for the still very young Brit rockers Arctic Monkeys, who had no problem matching the spirit of their fervid audience with an intensely raw brand of no frills rock & roll. The crowd-surfing and mosh pitting commenced as the Monkeys thrashed through fan favourites "The View from the Afternoon" and "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" before putting a cool spin on Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand," a tune about the tempting business enterprises presented to impoverished inner city teens. It was refreshing to see an alternative rock band in this day and age still content with delivering a balls-to-the-wall, freewheeling set of old-fashioned rock music sans electronic overkill. (WH)

Santigold - 5:30-6:30 p.m., Playstation Stage

The huge crowd migrated ever so slightly over to the Playstation Stage to catch a glimpse of the ceaselessly protean Brooklynite Santigold, one of the most exciting new artists on the scene in 2009. In full command of the late afternoon crowd, little Ms. White entertained us, delivering "L.E.S. Artistes" and "Say Aha" early on as her robotically syncopated dancer/background singers flanked her. Tough to categorize as she moves from ska-punk to diva pop to electro rock with ease, Santi declared boastfully, "I've got to be unstoppable," amongst the stickiest of beats, and judging by her ever-growing fanbase and affable charm we'll probably be seeing her around for years to come. Go see Santigold. (WH)

No Age - 5:00-6:00 p.m., Citi Stage
Glasvegas - 5:30-6:30 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Santigold :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
The nice thing about shitgaze as a genre is that when you see it live you can just pretend the P.A. system sucks. In that light, I thought No Age's set rocked, because the band has such good songs that would really sound great if it weren't so hip for them not to. It's all in good fun with these guys, who'd be equally at home hobnobbing with Deerhunter or The Dead Milkmen. What you can make out in these songs is kind of intricate tunesmithery for such brief blasts of punkish noise, but it really works, especially live. I couldn't tear myself away, which meant I missed some of Glasvegas, which may have been a mistake but I'll never know. These Scots impressed me more with each song. Singer James Allen has the Celtic gravel of Elvis Costello and the anthemic howl of Eddie Vedder, and he and the rest of the band play with the shimmering determination of Mogwai. Their version of the oft-covered Korgis track "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime" was the best take on the song I've ever heard. The set was simply stunning.(CR)

Lykke Li - 6:30-7:30 p.m., Citi Stage It would've been tough for anybody to really top Glasvegas, yet Lykke Li somehow pulled it off. She came out almost unassumingly, and the peculiar, immaculate songs began to speak for themselves. I wasn't really expecting her to have this amazingly tight band behind her, but these guys shifted between hi- and lo-fi textures, from busy to minimal, with precision and grace. And that voice! She's even more engrossing live, and I couldn't even see her half the time. It was an hour of perfect, haunting, intoxicating pop music, and I was mesmerized. (CR)

Animal Collective - 7:30-8:30 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Lykke Li :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Smith
So, as if expectations weren't already high for Animal Collective, the band's sets seem to either be masterpieces or trainwrecks, and I had no idea how the music would translate under the big open sky. Then, the journey began with the unreleased "What Would I Want Sky." If you recorded this set, I pity your attempts at tracking it; songs melted into each other like rainbow sherbet for the next hour, and songs that actually have been released resembled their studio counterparts only fleetingly. The vocal improv in the middle of "Guys Eyes" was just on a different plane than what other bands do. "Daily Routine" crept out of "Bleed" like they were parts of the same song, a pulsing lucid dream sequence. "Fireworks" sprung from the nebulous "Lablakely Dress," which went on an insane tribal glitch jam with Avey Tare on guitar. How they were able to rein it in and return to the song I will never know, but it was breathtaking. "Brother Sport" hit similar highs just before its coda, and might've taken us all away in its supersonic ending loop jam had not Tool started playing precisely at 8:29 p.m. You know how Maynard Keenan is always writing songs where he pretends to be a meathead, but he's really trying to point out how idiotic that bullyish attitude is? Hey, maybe Tool didn't know AC was still on or the big security guard forced Maynard on stage; I just thought it was interesting. I mean, Tool has been playing the same setlist for like four years now; couldn't they have made up those five minutes somehow, so AC could've finished the song? (CR)

Animal Collective - 7:30-8:30 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

BEWARE OF RANT: For the second time this summer, I attended an Animal Collective festival set with high expectations and once again, like their Bonnaroo set, I walked away simply not being able to wrap my head around the hype that has been building for years. Likeminded music fans, blogs, and websites can't seem to get enough of these dudes these days, yet their set of swirling cacophony rarely resembled any kind of coherent melodic thought at any point. I consider myself accepting of all kinds of music and always eager to find new sounds but I just don't get the appeal about this group as a live band. On record these guys show great potential, but I have found their performances to be aimless and desultory as they meander through languid walls of noise and cacophonous yelping. To wrap up this rant, I want to like this band, and as I said, there are several songs on record that lead me to believe there is hope for a "click" moment; I just haven't gotten there yet. The only thing I will likely remember from this show were the two kids who passed out cold within twenty feet of me and within three-minutes of each other. Scary. (WH)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 8:30-10:00 p.m., Budweiser Stage

Karen O - Yeah Yeah Yeahs:: Lollapalooza 2009 by Smith
I had to skip across the grounds for Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The people who try to claim that this band is an unfit substitute for the Beastie Boys are really barking up an imaginary tree; I can understand people being pissed about buying a one-day ticket and not being able to get their money back when the Beasties canceled, but YYYs deserve that spotlight as much as any of the non-veteran headliners, if not more. Karen O convinced me that she is not just a great singer but one of the great performers of our time. She was really able to inspire this crowd, and there were some true fanatics around. Still, there were some awkward aspects of the set. Some of the little electronic interludes seemed extended just to make the set longer, and they were especially skeletal compared to what AC had just been creating. And a song like "Maps," with all the women in the crowd singing along, certainly felt like a happening I wasn't privy to, but it's moments like this that can intrigue legions of potential new fans. Besides, after that the band closed with its most exhilarating tracks of the night, "Y Control" and "Date With The Night." Guitarist Nick Zinner came alive with some searing, Thurston-like guitar work, and Karen gave every drop of sweat she had. I can't say it ever blew me away, but it was an occasionally thrilling, ultimately satisfying end to the night. (CR)

Tool - 8:30-10:00 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

Tool once again pulled back the curtain to the theater of the morose and despicable, unleashing their visceral fury on Grant Park to close down night two. Vocalist-frontman Maynard James Keenan commented on the incredible gulf between the two bands headlining Saturday night in the most sarcastic of tones: "The only shame is that we had to miss the Yeah Yeah Yeahs," which was met with a smattering of laughter.

Tool :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
The visual element of a Tool show is as important as the music itself, helping to further the distinctly dark, skin crawling discomfort that goes hand-in-hand with their music. Thematically the images are based around torturous zombie-like androgynous bodies in various undesirable situations mostly involving some form of repulsive mutilation. Not for the faint at heart, Keenan's lyrics are both intellectually robust and darkly perverse, addressing the underbelly of the universe, as on "Ænema" when he sings "Some say end is near/ Some say we'll see Armageddon soon/ I certainly hope we will cuz I sure could use a vacation from this." Their genre-bending style beams across the spectrum, meshing progressive metal with art rock in such a seamlessly intricate way that they exist in a space all their own. Musically fluid and brain-jarring with perhaps the most dexterous, rhythmically sound drummer on the music scene today, Danny Carey, who serves as the lightning rod and backbone for the band's sound as Maynard's silhouette creepily sways back-and-forth like an arachnid figure against the dark stage lights and terrifying imagery.

The crowd for the Tool set was aggressive and anyone with any intention of getting out from the front of the ruckus had to be crowd-surfed out. Intense but respectful, most fans were simply too entrenched in the music to cause a bother. Whether you like them musically or not, these guys bring a certain kind of passion and production to festival main stages that is hard to find anywhere else.

With two days in the book and my brain sufficiently shaken from the horrid imagery of the Tool show, it was now time to head home and then to seek the familiar territory of STS9's late night show at House of Blues. (WH)

Continue reading for Sunday's coverage of Lollapalooza...

Sunday, 08.09

Alberta Cross - 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
Every once in a blue moon we get the opportunity to catch a new band and immediately get a sense that something big is in store for them. On Sunday morning a groggy and already sweaty crowd of a couple hundred got to witness one of the up-and-coming bands of the next decade. Hailing from Brooklyn by way of England, Alberta Cross has a classic look, a furiously wailing sound, an amazingly gifted lead singer and a penchant for slow-burning epic breakouts that elevate your soul with the ability to alter your mindscape for a fleeting moment. Ripping through their set, a tune called "Rise from the Shadows" was one that caught my attention with its grim sound and My Morning Jacket mind-warping jam out. Lead singer Petter Ericson Stakee's vocal talent alone is enough to make an impact but the entire band has enough gusto to carry these guys to the stratosphere. Commenting about the experience playing Lolla, Stakee told us, "[It was] simply amazing, I've been reading about this fest since I was a kid. There is so much history. This is one of the best out there, and the view of the city is amazing." With their smoking hot full length debut album set for release on September 22 on ATO Records expect these guys (former "JamBase New Favorite Band" from back in 2007 we might add) to land on a few year-end "best of" lists. (WH)

Ra Ra Riot - 12:30-1:30 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

Hoo-boy, running on four hours of sleep with the heat index surpassing 100 degrees, this should be fun. Wait, it's like this at every festival come Sunday... Ra Ra Riot is not a bad band at all, but it is a part of this new breed of MOR-indie that's been made safe for the entire world by Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend. Having violin in your rock band is no longer enough to be considered "eclectic," and this band just doesn't have strong enough songs yet to set itself apart. "Too Too Too Fast" came closest with its '80s synth riff borrowed from Rush's "Subdivisions," but it was the lone oddball of the set. (CR)

Portugal The Man - 1:30-2:30 p.m., Playstation Stage

The Airborne Toxic Event :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
I made the hike to catch Alaska-turned-Oregon groove rockers Portugal. The Man and was a bit under-whelmed by their organ heavy style centrally based around lead singer John Gourley's high-pitched singing. The band exuded a great deal of talent, it just didn't seem to mesh well on stage this time around. (WH)

Bat For Lashes - 1:30-2:30 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Bat For Lashes, the stage name of Natasha Khan, started slow and never really sped up, but she did seem to ease into her comfort zone gradually and ended up in control of the initially hesitant crowd. I'd been thinking that the new Two Suns album had really made 2006's Fur And Gold seem primitive, but I was impressed at how much stronger the old songs were now; "Trophy" and "Tahiti" seemed much richer, and "Priscilla" was a highlight of the set. She sometimes has a mournfulness that approaches PJ Harvey levels, and her voice can be similarly striking, but this cohesive set was a convincing display of Khan's emerging talent. (CR)

The Airborne Toxic Event - 2:30-3:30 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

The "Airborne Toxic Event" might have been a description of the stench that had permeated the south end of the grounds since Saturday morning, but instead it was a band. This band is so oddly, definably Irish-rock-sounding, yet it's from L.A. I don't know for sure if this contributes to how contrived the songs seem, but Mikel Jollett reminds me way too much of Caleb Followill in delivery and tone, and whether or not he believes in what his band is selling, I'm not buying it. (CR)

Kaiser Chiefs - 2:30-3:30 p.m., Budweiser Stage

The Raveonettes :: Lolla 2009 by Smith
Before Sunday, I only had a casual appreciation of Kaiser Chiefs, having only heard a few of their popular radio singles, but after seeing this particular shitkicker I am committed on finding out everything there is to know about this band. Kicking off their set in overdrive, their hit song "Never Miss A Beat" started a thrill ride that wouldn't cease until the band left the stage. Quintessentially British in every way, the Chiefs have the attitude of The Clash and refined pop sensibility of Blur. Approaching a hiatus for the band, lead singer Ricky Wilson was hellbent on putting on the best performance possible. He jumped into the photo pit numerous times to do a lap around the audience, and at one point he sat on the railing facing his band and commented on how fun it was to watch the Kaiser Chiefs play. Wilson was also the only artist of the weekend I saw doing sign language with the interpreter and jump on the massive stage speakers to rev up the crowd. Conducting the crowd as his band ripped through their slew of Euro radio hits, the lead singer did his best to incite an "Angry Mob" after playing "I Predict a Riot." The madman wasn't content unless the crowd was clapping along, moshing, crowd-surfing or getting drunk at all times, and he did his best to play the role of facilitator. Kaiser Chiefs were able to bring the British festival atmosphere of pure pandemonium to Grant Park for their hour long set (in the scorching heat) and it was surprisingly my hands-down favorite performance of the weekend. Ricky Wilson should be given a medal of rock star honor for his service to the people of Chicago. The Rock Gods surely salute you, sirs. (WH)

The Raveonettes - 3:30-4:30 p.m., Playstation Stage & Hollywood Holt - 3:30-4:30 p.m., Perry's

The Raveonettes offered a stark contrast to the music of the Kaiser Chiefs with their ethereal, droning New Wave-ish space pop coming from the North side of the park. Their sound just didn't go over well on a big stage at a massive music festival, but it'd be cool to catch them in a smaller club environment. Moving down towards the Southside I caught my second MGMT sample of the weekend ("Time to Pretend") in my limited time at Perry's DJ area with Hollywood Holt. Whether you like it or not, MGMT's music is almost unavoidable these days. Once again, the ritualistic dancing was in effect at Perry's; this area of the park seemed to have a narcotic effect on people. (WH)

Dan Deacon - 3:30-4:30 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Neko Case :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
Shame on you, Dan Deacon! People are passing out from heat exhaustion and you want us to run around creating human tunnels and interact with each other? I know his reputation precedes him, but if you can't get at least a little excited about a performance that truly combines sociological experimentation with overpowering goodwill and triumphant dance music you might want to question why you are going to see live music. Deacon creates an experience with his audience that every person who participates will remember forever. And his songs are damn good, too. (CR)

Neko Case - 4:30-5:30 p.m., Budweiser Stage
Dan Auerbach - 5:30-6:30 p.m., PlayStation Stage

After Dan Deacon's kind of energy, there was an inevitable lull, and Neko Case couldn't hope to arouse much excitement at this point. She is an incredibly charming and gracious performer, and while I don't really care for her singing, I'd thought it was because she was cold and dispassionate. I got a different impression at this set, though, where I believed every word I heard, though I still haven't heard her quite coax the longing in her words out in her singing. Dan Auerbach also just wasn't quite there. He can really surprise you sometimes with a hot guitar solo, kind of a Jon Spencer/Jack White style, but this blues rock genre is so limited in its scope that it has been done to death even though it remains vibrant in the right hands. Auerbach can bring it to that next level, but he just seemed lackadaisical here, so it came off a bit like store-brand Southern rock. Blame it on the heat. (CR)

Vampire Weekend - 4:30-5:30 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

Vampire Weekend fans :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
There is little I can add about this prep school meets Paul Simon group that hasn't been blogged about 10,000 times. However, I will comment on the mind-blowingly large crowd that was there to see Vampire Weekend. It was hard to tell if they were all there to get a good spot for Snoop Dogg (who had the largest audience of the weekend), but it was very telling of this band's widespread acceptance. I tried and tried for a while to act like I didn't like this band but their music is just so damn agreeable. Songs like "A-Punk" and "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance" are just too peppy to turn your nose up at... unless you really got something against Northern prep school kids. (WH)

Passion Pit - 5:00-6:00 p.m., Citi Stage

Summer party heroes Passion Pit are not the band of a generation, or even 2009, by any means, but they did create possibly the most fun album this year and for that they should be commended. As a live act they haven't quite gotten it nailed down yet, as Michael Angelakos often struggled to keep his breath during high-pitched shrills and the band hasn't quite reached any real telepathy in their playing. Nevertheless, their synth lines and choruses are extremely infectious and their beaming attitude is constantly ecstatic. You can really tell by the smiles and joy on stage that the band is living in a dream world, floating on a cloud. The live version of "Sleepyhead" is every bit as good as it is on record, and even if "The Reeling" sounded a bit cluttered and confused it's a damn fun song to get down to. (WH)

Cold War Kids - 5:30-6:30 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Lou Reed :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
Cold War Kids were jittering and jangling just below at the vitaminwater Stage and seemed more comfortable in their own skin than ever before while playing to an enormous late-afternoon crowd. Half of the audience was keenly engaged singing-along with the punkish "Something Is Not Right With Me," while many were just stopping by en route to Snoop-a-Loop. The most notable song of the set was a rearranged, dubby version of "I've Seen Enough" that had Nathan Willett asking, "How's it gonna feel when summer ends/ Out of money, out of friends." Always a good show, soulful, delightfully amelodic at times and full of catchy sing-alongs, the Cold War Kids once again did not disappoint. (WH)

Lou Reed - 6:30-7:30 p.m., Budweiser Stage

A cranky Lou Reed, inventor of indie rock, came out five or ten minutes late, unwittingly kicking a tiny snowball down a large hill. Yeah, it was probably his fault he came on late, and who knows if he consciously or obliviously went twenty minutes past his scheduled end time. Yeah, he has that be-thankful-I-showed-up haughtiness just like Dylan, and he stumbles over his lyrics like a drunk. But, don't you have to give some leeway to anybody who's the 'Godfather' of something? Anyway, Reed's set veered wildly between engaging grooves, screeching sax solos, walls of feedback and Lou gesticulating stubbornly as he spat out his words, but at least you could tell that they still mean something to him. Highlights were a belligerent take on "Dirty Boulevard," the menacing and unhinged "Mad" and "Paranoia Key Of E," which ended in an extended knob-twiddle jam before resolving into "I'm Waiting for the Man." (CR)

Band of Horses - 7:30-8:30 p.m., PlayStation Stage

Snoop Dogg :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Smith
When Lou Reed started "Walk On The Wild Side" after already cutting ten minutes into Band of Horses' slot, some cheered and others groaned. BoH, to its credit, waited until Lou was waving goodbye to start playing. The band's music is pretty straightforward Americana. Its success hinges largely on whether you like Ben Bridwell's voice or not. My only verdict is a shrug of the shoulders. I couldn't find any fault with the music, so I'll give the set a marginal thumbs up. The way it ended was destined to make it offensive to non-fans, but legendary for those who were singing-along. (CR)

Snoop Dogg - 6:30-7:30 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

Snoop Dogg is one cool motherfucker. There, I said it. If for no other cause, the reason he had the biggest crowd of the entire weekend at a festival occurring many years past his prime is because people like to be in the presence of cool. Sampling anything and everything, shouting out to 2Pac and demanding fans to throw up their middle fingers and say, "Fuck tha police," Mr. Broadus may be pushing 40 but the D.O. Double G still knows how to work a crowd. (WH)

Silversun Pickups - 7:30-8:30 p.m., vitaminwater Stage

Silversun Pickups closed down the vitaminwater Stage for the weekend and seemed very gracious for the opportunity, thanking the crowd numerous times. There sound is straight up 90s alt rock (like the always mentioned Smashing Pumpkins or a kinder, gentler Garbage) and fits right in with the basic ideas this festival was built on. It seemed like an enjoyable show, it was just hard to get into from afar. (WH)

The Killers - 8:30-10:00 p.m., Chicago 2016 Stage

Silversun Pickups :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann
To close down an amazing fifth sold out installment of the new era of Lollapalooza in its permanent home in Grant Park (C3 Presents and the City of Chicago recently agreed to a 10-year extension to host the event in the Windy City), The Killers made themselves right at home, decorating the stage with fake palm trees to create a glitzy, stylized Vegas night club aesthetic. With an enormous production budget, The Killers were able to put on an impressive visual display with a high-powered light rig and a colorful LED Wall offering a stunning array of colors. And, in case you forgot who you were seeing "The Killers" would flash by on the screen every few minutes for those fans who had passed out in a THC-induced haze at Snoop and just come back to Earth. I've never quite understood why bands feel the need to put their band name on the video walls, but whatever.

Opening with "Human," a newer song that I still don't really get, I immediately understood that although not my kind of music it is wholly necessary for this arena rock band to exist and prosper for the world to continue spinning on its axis. Their product is custom built for the Everyman rocker without the time to read music blogs or go digging through the record bins at their local music store. Their songs, image and live presentation are so agreeable that you have to wonder if the band even attempts to fight their primal artistic urges to break the boundaries and try to explore new directions. Danceable, hook-driven and mostly PG-rated, The Killers were able to do their duty as festival closers by giving tired fans an enjoyable, uncontroversial note to go out on, and appropriately played "When You Were Young" to close a long and incredible weekend of live music that provided something for everyone, and in the end, the Everyman. (WH)

Jane's Addiction - 8:30-10:00 p.m., Budweiser Stage

Farrell & Navarro - Jane's Addiction :: Lolla 09 by Smith
Jane's did wait until about 8:40 p.m. to come on stage; BoH made it clear that Perry Farrell is not quite as old as Lou Reed and therefore not deserving of their respect. It was ridiculous having to listen to the nebulous clatter underscore JA's first four songs as BoH just kept playing. Jane's did actually invent this festival, after all, and some people had been waiting 18 years to see the original lineup play. But, if you're a guy in an up-and-coming band and you sense that you have the opportunity to catapult the notoriety of your band, do you grab it? I guess it just depends on what kind of enemies you are willing to make, and what your gut and the rush of fan adulation prompt you to do.

JA's set was frustrating, spiked with wonderful moments. Perry, whether you love his raunchy stage persona or hate it, has always been this way. His vocal range showed natural signs of aging but he pulled everything off with flying colors, even if some of it was significantly down-tuned. Dave Navarro is still a hell of a guitar player, even if most of his solos are scripted. There was no real magic early in the set, everybody but Perry seeming a little stiff, and I don't know if that was really BoH's fault or not. Even the colossal "Three Days" was a plastic replica of its former self. But with "Whores" they seemed to really lock into a group vibe, marching powerfully through this one. Then "Been Caught Stealing" sort of ruined the mood and "Then She Did..." couldn't quite recover the energy. But "Ocean Size" suddenly seized on that elusive groove again, and it was like taking a glimpse into a time when this music was new and not so overplayed and imitated. And "Ted, Just Admit It..." sounded revitalized, even though the lyric has almost become a cliché in the post-grunge era. And just like that, the set was over.

Well, yes, there were the encores, though it was kinda silly to have a half hour's worth of encores after a 50-minute set, but nobody was complaining. "Summertime Rolls" felt as good as the title implies, especially since the temps were tolerable again, and "Stop!" was rousing. And Aerosmith's Joe Perry came out to play guitar on the "Jane Says" finale. I was too tired by that point to come up with anything clever to think about this bewildering choice, and still nothing comes to mind now.

As some fans filtered out, Perry Farrell came back for some speechifying, introductions of family, friends, etc., and one marriage proposal by some guy (pretty sure she said "yes"). It's always a bit disarming to see that character from the stage turn into a real person, and in this case, it cast his gaudy on stage sexuality as a funhouse-mirror reflection. It's all in service to the rock & roll mystique, that whole production, but at what point does the 50-year-old man undermine the persona? Maybe it's when he invites the guitarist from Aerosmith to help him close out his alternative music festival. Still, Farrell and friends on stage, radiating gratitude at the end of another fairy tale festival, constitutes an unqualified happy ending. (CR)

Jane's Addiction with Joe Perry :: Lollapalooza 2009 by Vann

Continue reading for lots more pics of Lollapalooza 2009...

Images by: Chad Smith

Perry Farrell
Etty Lau Farrell (Perry's wife)
Cold War Kids
Karen O
Kid Cudi
Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode
Robert Earl Keen
of Montreal
Passion Pit
Lou Reed
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Ben Harper and Relentless7
Ben Harper and Relentless7
Bassnectar fans
Band of Horses
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction

Continue reading for more pics of Lollapalooza 2009...

Images by: Dave Vann

The Decemberists
Thievery Corporation
Kings of Leon
Kings of Leon crowd
Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode
Arctic Monkeys crowd
Blind Pilot
Ben Harper and Relentless7
Dan Auerbach
Patrick Hallahan (MMJ) with Dan Auerbach
The Raveonettes
Vampire Weekend
Silversun Pickups
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction with Joe Perry

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