Web Toolbar by Wibiya Bears and Bullets: Wednesday Bears: Lollapalooza 2010 Review - Day One

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday Bears: Lollapalooza 2010 Review - Day One

Lollapalooza 2010 has come and gone. And as with every year, I'll post my day-by-day in depth review of everything that happened, to me at least.

Day One:

By now, I feel comfortable calling myself a Lolla veteran. Despite the new shake-ups organizers made to the park - moving some stages and increasing size and ticket revenue - certain things about the festival have now become somewhat predictable. Now that's not me saying that I don't enjoy my time, because I certainly do, but the surprise factor has somewhat been diminished. Regardless, August 6, the festival's first full day, was one of the best I've ever had the privilege of being a part of.

The sun was out in pristine blue sky, as Chicago usually seems to this time of year, at a hot, but bearable 80 degrees. Walking in I noticed two distinct things that we're a bit different: one; the size expansion. The Lolla-area had been extended to Michigan Avenue, allowing several stages their own space, more bathrooms and easier in and out access to the park. The other was the overwhelming amount of Lady Gaga fans. They had come in black and pink droves, with colored hair, flaring costumes and skin-tight everything, parking themselves at the south side of the park for the entire day, hoping to save a seat in the enormous crowd that was growing throughout the day. It was a big change of pace for a festival that had never billed a pure mainstream pop act of this caliber. For once, the festival wasn't a haven for mislabeled hipsters and older fans looking for a fun weekend. More on that later.

So, officially, my third Lollapalooza began with Wavves at around noon. For those familiar with the band and their studio work, you'd understand the risks seeing them. Luckily, or in another sense, predictably, the band is better live than advertised. With a weekend short on surprising acts, Wavves was a good start. The noise rock trio, headed by notorious frontman Nate Williams, were a bit out there (if you know the cover of their King of the Beach album you can pretty much figure it out) for the majority of the show, accusing fans for being Ben Stein and whatnot, but they settled into their own, making them a bit more endearing than before.


Leaving Wavves with a little time to spare, I made my way to the opposite end of the park to catch the Walkmen, the first of my many heavily anticipated performances. While the first five minutes of the show were clouded with immense, for some reason, technical difficulties, the band broke into with the first of many new tracks from their upcoming album Lisbon.

Decked in their usual casual yet formal clothing, the group, thanks most to Hamilton Leithauser's booming vocals, gave maybe the best early performance of the day, mixing in new work and more familiar singles like "In the New Year" and "The Rat" throughout the show. All in all, a pretty damn good start for just being 2:00 p.m.

The Walkmen

My eventual down-time was few and far between, but between 2:00 and 4:00 I had my first breather. I took short trips to see Ana Sia, my first visit to the updated Perry's Place, and a couple minutes with noise-gaze trio Cymbals Eat Guitars, but eventually found myself waiting for the New Pornographers to start.

Kicking off with my favorite song of theirs, "Sing Me Spanish Techno," Neko Case (draped in a sun-protecting hat), AC Newman, Dan Bejar (who came in and out often) and the rest of the group performed almost every hit they've had in their near ten-year careers, spanning from 2001's Mass Romantic to this year's Together. Needless to say, the group sounded flawless on stage, despite the direct sunlight on Case's fair frame. Friday afternoon had again spurned what would turn out to be one of the weekend's best shows.

The New Pornographers

Once 5:00 rolled around, I was caught in my first of several weekend dilemmas. Do I stay at the north side of the park and catch the Dirty Projectors? Or Fuck Buttons? Well, I knew I wasn't going to Matt & Kim on the south side so there wasn't too much worry there, so I tried my time at both and wound up just grabbing my spot for Hot Chip.

It's unfortunate to note that this was probably the only stain on day one. As I mentioned before, the plethora of Gaga fans camping out at the south end of the park eventually begun to choke the area around the main stage. And by 6:00 any person hoping to grab a spot for either Hot Chip or Gaga had to really manage their way through the sidelines. It's a shame too, because the group put on one of the best shows of the weekend, but half of time I was trying not to bump shoulders with 40,000 others. Still, it was another great show for the day.

With the first night a few hours away from closing, I geared up for day one's headliner, The Strokes. I stayed a short time at Jamie Lidell's bearded and disheveled performance, trying to rest my legs in anticipation of two and half hours of straight standing (and/or jumping). Yeah, it didn't really do much to help.

Jamie Lidell

For those who weren't aware, or don't regularly read this thing, this was the first show the Strokes had done in the United States in nearly four years. While there wasn't any new material to speak of (could be a good or a bad thing), the band seemed like they haven't spent too much time apart, performing almost their entire track list from Is This It? and several other songs from their last two albums. It's hard-pressed for Lolla headliners to put on disappointing performances, and aside from the late start and somewhat early exit (making a scheduled hour and half show into an hour and 10 minute show), The Strokes easily delivered. So for fans electing to, or adamant about staying away from anything Gaga, their night ended pretty well.

The Strokes

Best Performances: The Strokes, The New Pornographers, Hot Chip, The Walkmen
Worst Performances: None

Highlights: "Reptilia" by the Strokes, "Bleeding Heart Show" by The New Pornographers and "In the New Year" by The Walkmen
Lowlights: The Gaga crowd at Hot Chip

Day Two Review Tomorrow ...

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