Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Lollapalooza: 2007.08.06 Grant Park, Chicago Review – Part 3

So day 3 arrives, and I’m starting to feel the exhaustion of a 3 day event. It doesn’t help that Sunday brought on the heat, at least for the first half of the day…

With a late start, I got to the park in time to catch most of the set by the Welsh band Los Campesinos. Not bad, but I’m starting to wonder how much “quirky indie rock” that I can actually tolerate. I liken them to the band Architecture In Helsinki, but at least at the moment, I’d rather just listen to Architecture if I’m in that mood. One of my favorite rock writers, Jim DeRogatis from the Chicago Sun-Times, classified this music as “generic indie-rock jangle”, or “GIRJ”. Love it.

After that, I had to move into position for the one artist I had been waiting all weekend for, Iggy And The Stooges. In the interim, I got to hear a little of both Amy Winehouse and Paolo Nutini’s sets, neither of which sounded to be engaging in any way. Amy Winehouse just sounded amateur and boring – I cannot understand how people claim that she has a great voice or stage presence.

On to the most anticipated act, Iggy Pop. This was absolutely the highlight of the weekend, with Iggy bringing his trademark punk sound and attitude to Chicago and completely destroying all other bands with his energy and charisma. His band (The Stooges) were dead on with the accompaniments, but they were definitely accompaniments to Iggy. The crowd really woke up during “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, and during “No Fun”, the moment we will all be talking about for years to come happened. Evidently a fan was trying to cross the barrier to get on the stage, and Iggy Pop pleaded with the guards to let him do it. This opened up the flood gates, and over 200 fans stormed the stage to sing and dance with the band. From the field, it was a sight to see. After the song, somehow, amazingly, Iggy got everyone to leave the stage, and they played through the rest of their set, including “1970” and “Fun House”. To me, this was the end of the Lollapalooza weekend – there simply was no way anyone was going to top it.

But the day pressed on, and we caught a bit of Yo La Tengo’s set. I’ve seen YLT several times now, and, though I love them, they weren’t doing anything new, so I decided to move on. Next door to them was The Wailers, who sounded great but felt like a chicken running with its head cut off. What’s the point of The Wailers without Bob Marley? We moved further, and came across Sweden’s Peter, Bjorn, and John. I’ve heard a little of them, and of course the hit song “Young Folks” (I can’t stop whistling…), and their live set seemed to be pretty good. I hear that just before I got to them, there were sound problems that interrupted their set. From what I heard, sounds like they were able to recover.

After having a bite to eat, we caught the very end of !!!, who bode well for a live set based on their studio work, but unfortunately, I was unable to see any significant portion of the performance.

We stayed on Hutchinson Field for another anticipated performance, this one by My Morning Jacket, who promised a surprise-filled set including a collaboration with the Chicago Youth Symphony. Though I’m not familiar with their music, I thought this sounded enticing enough to check out, and I felt that it came off very well. They have a very summer-friendly jam-band sound, and the audience seemed to appreciate the performance. The symphonic aspect didn’t shine through acoustically too well, but I could tell that it added at least a subtle added dimension to the sound. Perhaps the highlight, though, was that they ended with a fun cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”, which, as I looked around, had the crowd moving.

Again we remained on Hutchinson Field to catch the set of TV On The Radio, in preparation for the final act, Pearl Jam. I have heard great things about TV On The Radio, and I like the studio works that I have heard so far, so I was looking forward to seeing them. Unfortunately, I got nothing from their performance, and found myself just waiting for Pearl Jam to start.

My love affair with Pearl Jam has taken many turns. As a young teenager, I was amongst the masses in believing that Pearl Jam was the greatest band around. I consider the Soldier Field concert in 1995 to be one of the finest live shows I’ve ever seen. I also feel that Pearl Jam has been getting progressively worse as a live act over the years, with studio albums following in the same suit. Whereas in the early 90s they were primarily focused on delivering an amazing rock show, today I feel like it’s all about Eddie Vedder and his politics. As a result, I considered Sunday’s show to be much more of a nostalgic thing – will this be the last time I ever see the band I once loved?

After Sunday, I hope so. They plodded through their hits, including “Even Flow” and “Alive” (staples), and none of it sounded fresh in any way. Where were songs like “Go”, “Animal”, and “Blood” (though they did throw me a bone with “Rearview Mirror”)? The crowd sang along to songs like “Elderly Woman” like it was karaoke night at the local Y. Eddie Vedder went on several [expected] mumbling political soliloquies, including a nonsense number about BP Amoco and an alteration of the lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” from “Teachers leave us kids alone” to “George Bush leave this world alone”. Come on, Eddie.

During the second encore (which, by the way, was fully planned and expected), Eddie and Ben Harper played an “anti-war” song called “No More War”, which was utterly useless and sounded like it was being improvised on the spot. I just can’t listen to Eddie preach anymore, especially since the music itself has lost all of its luster.

Even the fireworks during “Even Flow” appeared to be a mistake in timing. Eddie himself asked “are there fireworks going on? Hmm, I guess we should change the song…”

Pearl Jam had their time and place. For me, it was Lollapalooza 1992, not 2007. Thank you Iggy for saving the day.


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