Lollapalooza 2011 Day 1

LOLLAPALOOZA 2011

While other festivals have a way of starting up slowly on the first day with lesser know known bands and later set times, Lollapalooza wastes NO time in getting right to the music with some of the best groups on the festival bill. The new wristband technology is in use now at Lolla and ultimately will be a good thing but brings its growing pains in its first year of use. Crowds are always an issue and it seems to be more crowded at earlier times this year…the crowd for FOSTER THE PEOPLE was staggering and they were at 3pm. A great day of music was capped with truly one of the greatest concerts I have ever seen…even on a 3rd viewing…YEAH it was that good! Actually every act I saw yesterday I liked but I will try and give you the highlights on who I think you should try and see live and whose music you should be digging.

FOSTER THE PEOPLE- This band of youngsters from Ohio via LA has “it factor” all over it like stank on a Muddy Waters song. After seeing them at Sasquatch back in May, I predicted a big blowup for this band and it has happened. Their hit Pumped Up Kicks with it’s up, happy, poppy sound yet VERY scary meaning (think Jeremy by Pearl Jam as far as the story goes) is everywhere…even spawning several remixes which have become hits. It’s just really solid alt pop that pulls from indie, punk, shoegazer and dreampop but there is always a solid backbone of electronic beats and loops that keep it modern, new and danceable. A high-energy stage show by young good-looking guys doesn’t hurt either. They played the 2nd largest stage that at this time of day would have had a solid but not huge crowd. Not the case with this act on the fast track. They drew the largest crowd I have ever seen at this stage. These kids are gonna be big and get bigger I tell ya!

THE KILLS- After being on loan to Jack White for 2 albums and a tour with The Dead Weather, Allison Mosshart returns to THE KILLS with a great new album and are on tour to support it. While I really enjoy the new album (and I know this statement or the like is made all the time) but you really need to dig them live to “get it”. Mosshart’s dynamic stage present NEVER lets down and while I would not necessarily put her in the greatest female rock singer category, she does what she needs to and this gives the music it’s big punch when combined with extraordinary guitar work of Jamie Hince. OK…I ain’t gona lie, Mosshart’s sweaty just out of “bed” cum cousin it hair in the face look helps a lot…wait what was I saying…oh right…the music. This is a chic singer/dude guitarist duo a la Sleigh Bells and The xx but with a decidedly bluesier down-low slant. In your face, gritty, nasty, powerful and sludgy would all be terms used in their best form to describe these guitar sounds. During this set time was when I had planned to bounce to a couple of other acts but I could not pull myself away from this infectious performance.

CRYSTAL CASTLES- I really love this electronica/ wild chic singer act but they are a band that really needs to be heard on 11. The sound was just not there yesterday. Almost inaudibly low bass sounds that rattle your whole body, noise effects the like of which I have heard in no other act, save MAYBE The F**k Buttons, and screamy wailed vocal punctuations that can be ear piercing is what I love and you just couldn’t hear it yesterday. I’m not sure if the sound system of the 2nd stage was not equipped to handle what CRYSTAL CASTLES brings but they did not have the sound and punch I was hoping for. But this was a 4th hearing and every other time has been great and aurally assaulting in a good way so catch them if you can.

SMITH WESTERNS continue to impress me as a great new alt rock band. It’s not that they stand out stylistically but it’s that they play the alt rock style so well. They have great songs, a great energy, a great performance and a great record. It may be a slow rise but I look for a breakout from these guys sometime in the near future.

TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB is just a great band that keeps the fun in their music while being artistically sound. Influences from all over keep fans flocking in greater and greater numbers to catch this up, danceable, fun indie/pop act. I come away with the same if not better impression from their set at Coachella this year.

And for the art rock fans the side project from Tool vocalist Maynard Keenan, Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and former NIN drummer John Freese  A PERFECT CIRCLE popped their heads out of their musically deep and ear challenging lairs. Certainly this is not the “stuff” for everyone but if you need something very artsy, a little proggy and a little “I don’t know what the hell it is but I like it” then check out A PERFECT CIRCLE on a date before, like a Disney animation classic, they go back in the vault. A side note for TOOL fans, Maynard (taking time away from his vineyard…yeah that’s right I said vineyard) had on a surprising amount of clothing and was sporting some awfully long dread locks. A change from the normally uniquely mohawked and Speedo/diaper clad Maynard.

Now is where I may loose some of you whether because you THINK you don’t like them or because I talk about them too much but if you have not experienced MUSE in a festival setting with 50,000 people you don’t know Jack Flash. I witnessed many a MUSE convert last night.

Some 2 years ago the cover of Spin Magazine featured a pic of MUSE with the caption something on the order of…”Is this the most talented band in the world?” I am now damn near saying yes. This 3rd viewing of MUSE was musically mind-boggling. I look at them somewhat like I look I look at Jack Nicholson or Meryl Streep in that I marvel how they can be so good at what they do. Yes, there is the virtuosity and that = passionless and boring to some….it’s just not the case here. Usually, the virtuoso talk is all around singer, songwriter, guitar player, piano master Matt Bellamy but for some reason last night pointed to the amazing skills of ALL 3 members. This virtuosity is delivered on the backs of amazing songs…amazing as much for their compositional brilliance and technicality as they are for sheer passion. This is NOT “all form and no substance”. A MUSE concert takes you thru so many facets of rock. At times altish at others a quintessential example of art/glam rock. Sometimes they border on prog and at others just kick ass rock and roll (especially when they tag many tunes with riffs from famous classic rock songs…in all honesty played better than the original). I wish, like how to fly a helicopter is uploaded into Trinity’s head in The Matrix, I could convey to you the power, the artistry the amazingness for lack of a better word that is MUSE. It is music executed perfectly without sacrificing passion or the raw emotion that makes us love the good rock music. As one friend pointed out, seeing them in a seated concert arena is great but MUSE is a band best taken in a festival setting while standing with 50,000 screaming fans. It takes this setting for one to take in the enormity of all that is taking place. This performance zooms to the top of my Top 10 Concerts of All Time list and THAT is saying something. As I have stated before, this band is just one big radio hit away from U2 musical immortality. Yes, the comparisons to Queen and U2 are inevitable but with MUSE it always feels like paying homage to the great forefathers as opposed to copying. While of course all of this is subjective, I am posing to question to myself that Spin posed over 2 years ago. If not THE best and most talented band certainly one of them on recording and live performance. It was an absolutely stellar show in every way. Miss them at your own peril!

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