Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center


| August 11, 2010

Now in its fifth year as a Destination Festival, Lollapalooza sets out to test if bigger is better. This year, the festival grounds have been enlarged, pushing some stages west of Columbus to both accommodate more festival goers and ease the crowding that has plagued past events. Did it work? Kind of.

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Columbus Drive essentially became the world’s largest sidewalk. Lined with porta-johns, the newly opened-up spaces made getting from one end of Grant Park to the other a veritable breeze. But crushing crowds and limited space still plagued anyone who dared to venture into the north end’s two stages, especially as the day pressed on and the bigger acts emerged.

But enough of that. Let’s get to real reason the masses head to the park in the first place: Bands! Over a hundred of them plus a DJ tent, food vendors and the promise of sun-kissed skin on lithe, partially dressed bodies. Here’s a rundown of the rock.


-These United States are entertaining a sparse crowd at the BMI stage. It’s 11:15 in the morning, which equals pre-dawn in rock and roll time. Still the quartet roll with it, doling out their Midwestern brand of meat-and-potatoes rock with just a hint of twang. Oh, and they’re already drinking beer. Nice!

-Brooklyn duo Javelin look as if they might get swallowed by the cavernous space of the Petrillo Music Shell (this weekend posing as the Playstation Stage). The disco beats and sythn-y atmospherics seem to have the crowds attention. The smell of pot wafts through the air. Wake and Bake in Butler field. Lollapalooza is official on.

-Look, The Wavves are actually playing songs! Unlike their performance at last year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, the trio (or, more specifically, front man Nathan Williams) dispersed with the patience-testing caterwaul of noise they unleashed on an unsuspecting crowd in favor of surprisingly tuneful guitar blasts.

-Once an of-the-moment buzz band, The Walkman have settled nicely into a sound that is recognizable, but still divergent enough that it allows for accents like a horn section. And damn if their shoulda-been-a-classic “The Rat” doesn’t sound epic crawling across Chicago’s front lawn.

-Gothic in nature, the song’s of The Big Pink are perfectly suited for a dank club on the wrong side of town. But in broad daylight, the music exuded a sizable heft that had no trouble filling the open spaces

-As art-punks go, few have the street-cred that Devo do. Although best know for their flower pot headdress and hit single “Whip It,” the new material that gets played nestles in nicely with the rest of the crowd pleasing set.

-It’s been said that every smile is birthed from another smile. If this is true, drummer Kim, of duo Matt and Kim, is mother to thousands of parted lips. Her exuberance behind the kit helps propel their sixty minute performance into giddy rapture.

-Looking like a running back from Venus, Lady Gaga saunters down a staircase adorned with blood filled syringes that empties onto a trash strew street scene. Her purple biker jacket with NFL worthy shoulder pads eventually give way to a leopard skin leotard and fishnet stockings. She is flanked by a phalanx of dancers and more strobe lights than the final scene of Close Encounters. Some in the crowd have been waiting since 4 a.m. for this moment. As spectacles go, the Lady does not disappoint.


-At this point, who hasn’t been in Broken Social Scene. The Canadian collective has more offshoots than Happy Days had spin-offs. The roses strewn stage masks the force fullness of the performance. Two singers haven’t stared each other down like this since Lindsey started dragging Stevie’s heart around.

-Florida punk rockers have long since stopped worrying about credibility. Good thing too, because punk rock guilt is second only to the Catholic variety. The quintet blazed through their set, turning the south field into a giant mosh-pit sing along.

-The drone and intense quite that dominates the songs of The XX are in stark contrast to, um, daylight. With their ghost white skin and black garb, one wouldn’t have been surprised if the duo burst into flames upon seeing the sun. If anything, the massive crowd at their disposal proved they’re not the only ones who wear black on the outside, ’cus black is how they feel on the inside.

-Orange County’s Social Distortion are now chasing their third DECADE as band. Unheard of longevity for anyone, never mind a band with punk roots. But lead singer Mike Ness growls with the best of them, blurring the line between the punks and the rebels. It’s this marriage of musical styles that make the band sound timeless.

-It would seem that Green Day would owe Social Distortion a debt of gratitude. Once a dangerous game, the Berkley trio make punk rock seem safe and neutered. Hell, they even have their own Broadway musical. But it don’t mean shit when they hit the boards. Now full fledged rock stars, the band brought lights, flash pots and stage diving audience members to a show that revved to eleven from the green light and stayed in the red all evening.


-The early rain seems to have kept some revelers in until the sun decides to make an appearance. It has not, however, deterred a large throng from gathering for Switchfoot. On record, the band comes off as paint-by-numbers rock. But in front of an adoring audience their genuine joy is winning me over. Even their cover of the Beastie Boy’s “Sabotage” kinda rocks. And when the lead singer does an entire song holding the hand’s of fan’s, it’s obvious the affection is mutual.

-Scrappy Brit’s The Cribs never needed a secret weapon. They seemed to be doing just fine on their own. But they got one anyway in the form of former Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr. His fretwork meshes seamlessly with the band’s antagonistic melodies and football-riot chanters. Somewhere Modest Mouse sheds a tear on a dashboard.

-Never has the saying “big in Japan” ever been more accurate. X Japan deal in the kind of over-the-top Hair Metal that has long since gone out of fashion on this side of the pond. Apparently they never got the memo. Plexi-glass baby grand, see-through drum kit replete with gong and androgyny that still has me wondering if that bass player was a dude.

-Having the distinction of being the band to play the most Lollapalooza’s, Soundgarden returned like conquering heroes. During the grunge heyday, they weren’t as revered as Nirvana or as popular as Pearl Jam. But they quietly sold millions of records before acrimonious relationships within the band splintered their future. Whether they survive this reunion remains to be seen. Onstage, interaction between band members seemed nonexistent. But the roar they created on Sunday to close out the weekend more than hinted that the creative chemistry is still there. Guess will have to wait for the 2020 re-reunion to see if it holds true.

– Curt Baran

Category: Featured, Live Reviews, Weekly

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  1. X JAPAN - Page 3 - Ultimate Metal Forum | August 11, 2010