Lollapalooza | 08.07-08.09 | Chicago

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

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