LOLLAPALOOZA 05: A HOT ROCK REVIVAL

Day 2 | Sunday July 24

Sunday was so hot and with so much 80's vibe floating around, I'm honestly shocked we didn't hear a cover of "Blister in the Sun." OK, poor joke.


The Changes
12:11pm. It was early, and it was hot (getting hotter), but I had to catch Chicago's newest hot act, The Changes - the only unsigned band on the entire bill. The Changes feel like the power pop of The Police meeting the soft pop of the Postal Service, I guess either way they are doing their civic duty. Not just another 80's-style band, there was some originality, like the track "Her, You and I," which would be accessible to the jam enthusiasts.

OK, it's apparently 115 degrees on the field, and kids are dropping like flies. I too was starting to melt, so I ducked into Phil's hotel. My sincerest apologies to Blue Merle, Kasabian, Saul Williams, and DeSol. We meant to get there, we really did, but it was for the best to sit next to air conditioning for another two hours. I mean, even the usually resilient Tegan and Sara puked from heatstroke!

2:48pm. On the way back in, we caught a few minutes of Los Amigos Invisibles - a groovin' five-piece keyboard/guitar quintet led by frontman Julio Briceno. LAI is proving that Latin alt-rock goes beyond the Volta. Too hot to jump around, would gladly see them in a dark cool club sometime. Figuring it's mind over matter, I just dream about anything cool, but I get the feeling I will see LAI again down the road.

3:01pm. Found out that true love is blind from Louis XIV. Good to know, lesson learned. Walked to Dinosaur Jr.


J. Mascis - Dinosaur Jr.
3:04pm. Reminisced about the last time that Dinosaur Jr. was at Lollapalooza. It was 1993 and I was seeing them for the first time. That was a moment in time, was not sure what had hit me afterwards. J. Mascis' long gray hair showed that it had been a long time since 1993, and a lot has changed. There was a steely chill between J and Lou, which kept the stage cool, but the bottom line is that the vocals and guitar were there, the songs are well-written. Highlights were the "Sludgefeast" and the "Chunks" closer.


Satellite Party
3:41pm. Walking up to Perry Farrell's Satellite Party, and Tony Kanal (from No Doubt) is absolutely raging on the bass. Alright, this is gonna be good, who knew? Nuno from Extreme is also shredding, creating an exuberant blend of guitar/bass proficiency. People LOVE Perry, he can do no wrong for some. The band turned out to be good (not great), but fit in for sure with the crowd's support. Moods ranged from more straight-ahead guitar rock to the danceable funky beats with some deft piano work, even layering in Middle Eastern Kabbalistic vocals and texture from percussionist Gabriele Corcos. Perry really seemed Ecstatic to be there, his trademark perma-grin planted squarely in the middle of the face. Interested to see where he goes with this project, rumors are flying about it becoming a rock opera. Or a theme park, or an energy drink.


Patterson Hood - Drive-By Truckers
4:20pm. Considered going to Soulive - tried to muster up the energy, but got a cold drink and got ready for the Drive-By Truckers. DBT has the mark of a great band - they get better every time you see them. It's not the hair or skinny ties, they actually write great songs - go and listen to the lyrics sometime. They did not disappoint, the Truckers brought the heat. OK, the heat was already there, but they brought The Rock. They keep killing the crowds, and they ain't never gonna change. "Carl Perkins' Cadillac" was great, but their southern-fried tribute to arena rock, called "Let There Be Rock" is a classic tune, and I heard people were talking about the lyrics afterwards, all about the youth being young and the concerts we've gone to see. Perfect. Ben Kweller looked like he was having fun from the screen where I stood, but I stuck with the Truckers.

5:25pm. In spite of the heat, the crowd is really building for The Arcade Fire. You can feel that this is going to be a special set. Perry comes out to introduce the band, and he is just gushing about Arcade Fire, telling us TAF is proving it is still possible to be original with music. Staring into the painful sun, wearing suits, they launched into the opening riff of "Wake Up," and anyone that was there will tell you the day was different when this set was done. With arguably the largest crowd of the day thus far cheering loudly, they set us out on a great adventure. The multi-instrumentation in this band is amazing, everyone is constantly switching around from guitars to bass to violin to keys to French Horn - laughably introduced by Win as "the Freedom Horn. Don't let those French bastards enslave you with their names for instruments." LOL! The Roy Orbison cover of "Crown of Love" was just gorgeous, building into crescendo and giving rejuvenating energy back. My skin seems to get thicker as we cruise through "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)". The band continues to stare down the sun and they are winning!

The sun actually starts to fade as we head into the six o'clock hour.... Screaming "It's ok, it's alright... there's the sun, it's alright... there's the moon, it's alright," we all had newfound energy. Pretty much everyone I asked at random felt their set was far and away the tops of day 2.


Alan Evans :: Soulive
6:15pm. Tough to leave but had to see Perry's 2004 (and our 2000) faves STS9. Oh man, they too summoned our collective energies and had a dance party, quite the excellent set! I loved the "married to yesterday" refrain in the closer - so fun and grooving. One point of pride for growing up with the jammers - after watching too many skinny tie-wearing drummers, it is so refreshing to see Zach Velmer hit the kit. He is so good, more than a few of these other drummers could use some lessons.

6:45pm. Spoon front man Britt Daniel has a superb rock voice - one that can reach into your guts and pull them up. A splendid booking effort by the Austin promoters to give their homeboy a nice slot, it just about made my day. On the surface, songs like "I Turn My Camera On" seem like simple pop/rock, but it's more than that. It took its time to work it into my soul, but I gotta believe they come for rock and roll. Aw haw, awl riite. Is that a Thought Sausage at the other stage? Gotta go check it out.

7:09pm. On my way over to the other stage I experienced the art of the "live mash-up," hearing both Spoon and WSP rocking to a similar rock riff during "Use Me" (with Schools overpowering Britt the Spoonman and drawing me in for eighteen wheels of widespread fury).

7:11pm. Fully involved with Widespread Panic. Sorta weird to see the reigning kings of jam closing out the indie rock festival, but it felt right to see them slotted for two sets. It's JB's way, or it just ain't gonna happen. Happy to see a LOT of people to see the Pan. "Use Me" went right into "Imitation Leather Shoes" and the set ended.


Ben Kweller
7:29pm. The Killers are amazingly big - two million records sold, round-the-clock press interviews, articles about a feud with the Bravery dude, riding on the U2 Vertigo jet, multiple sold out nights at Wembley Arena in London. The list goes on and on, but how did this band from Las Vegas get so big? "Somebody Told Me" they were good, they must be! Right? I have to see for myself. OK, wait, is this a joke, major label act singing about keeping it real "cause it's indie rock 'n' roll to me." I don't get it, but god bless them, for they have found their niche and then some.

Well, the Panic is famous for their sandwiches, so doing a set of Panic, then a set of Killers back into a set of Panic was sort of like... a lettuce sandwich on thick, homemade bread. Still 95 degrees out, and people never needed cool, cool water more than now. George McConnell's screaming guitar and Schools' rumblin' bass scared a few thousand shoegazer kids right into a Death Cab.

8:47pm. Death Cab for Cutie closed the indie rock portion of our day. Ben Gibbard is obviously the heart and soul of the band; whether on guitar or keys, he was the band. Ben's voice is quite pretty... actually, in his words, "beautiful, but it don't mean a thing to me." They encored with a one guitar, two bass ditty that was sweet. Although I was standing on the stage, it was still hard to hear their gentle moments as Dave Schools driving a tractor trailer from 200 yards away was simply overpowering.

9:36pm. Watched "Pigeons" on the Roof, thought about the lyrics to "Give": "He said he's in it for the money, but I guess there's truth in lies... 'Cause it's your favorite charity, I think we better give before we take our lives", then remembered that "None of Us Are Free" and closed the whole festival down with a "Climb to Safety" encore... It's no fun to die alone.

10:06pm. Again in true music-junkie fashion, hailed a thankfully air-conditioned cab up to an intimate private showcase by an up-and-coming alt-country band named Backyard Tire Fire at Lincoln Park's Tonic Room.

So Lollapalooza 2005 was great for what it was: hot and musical. Look, it was not a jam collaboration festival, it's an indie rock, short set, play your set and step aside affair. The kids I spoke to felt Lolla went over well. They were happy it was in their native Chicago. If they are invited back to Grant Park next year, it will surely be that much better. The planning starts now while it's fresh in the mind.

TK
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[Published on: 8/23/05]

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