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Feature Wed Aug 01 2007

Lollapalooza 2007, A Preview

Hopefully, third time out, Lollapalooza will still charm Chicago with its 3-day weekend of rock, rap and general sun-drenched funky stuff. The festival has backed its trucks up to Grant Park and dumped out 9 stages, more than 150 acts, dozens of vendors and sponsors and spread it all out over 33 hours of non-stop rocking. Remember to hydrate, apply that sunblock, throw the horns on occasion, and, most importantly, read our ideas of a good time this weekend before you head out the door.

Friday, August 3rd

Elvis Perkins in Dearland / 11:45am on the adidas Stage
There's not a enough room on the internet to fully explore the back story of Elvis Perkins, if you're interested in personal tragedies, celebrity culture and 9/11 do a quick google search on Elvis Perkins. While I don't have time/space to go into his personal demons and tragic family history, rest assured they inform his emotionally charged songs. Think Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright. Check out "While You Were Sleeping" [mp3] and "Without Love" [mp3] then catch him this morning just as the festival gets going.
-Craig Bonnell

Soulive / 12:30pm on the Bud Light Stage
It seems that there are a ton of jam bands that incorporate some jazz-funk in their repertoire nowadays, but Soulive has the distinction of one of the few that seemed to do it as an expansion of natural musical forces. On their commercially released albums, it seemed more organic than forced, and the live set should be as fun. It sounds cliche, but if you cannot get into the vibe they put down on stage, then you must have a natural aversion to rhythm, the beat, and moving your ass (or nodding your head).
-Troy Hunter

Son Volt / 1:30pm on the adidas Stage
Bands whose qualities include non-trivial lyrics get hit the hardest when they put on a live show especially in an open space. The lyrics often are the first things sacrificed on the pyre of Showmanship, usually because of crappy EQing that favors the bass you feel in your abdomen rather than the normal register of the human voice. Luckily, Son Volt's country-rock sound will help you get some of the point.
-Troy Hunter

The Sippy Cups / Friday, 1:30pm, KIDZ Stage and Saturday, 1:15pm, KIDZ Stage
How could you not love a band whose fucking name is The Sippy Cups? The San Francisco-based band burst onto the lucrative kiddie band scene last year, with its debut Electric Storyland, no doubt an homage to Hendrix's oeuvre (no naked chicks in the gatefold of this album, though, as far as I can tell). Much like the inspiration of its title, Electric Storyland is a interactive, psychedelic songbook of sorts—calling for kids to wiggle their fingers and wave their hands, all set to some psych-pop sing-a-longs. The Sippy Cups' live show is a kaleidoscopic experience as well, with band members decked out in sunshine-bright colors, and the occasional unicycler or juggler crossing the stage. Just make sure to stay away from the bad Cheerios, dude.
-JP Pfafflin

Electric Six / 3:30pm on the Playstation Stage
It's only fitting that Electric Six is on the PlayStation Stage — given the 8th grade humor and over-the-top antics of the Detroit-based discopunk sextet, you might as well be watching someone play Guitar Hero. But underneath all the annoying posturing, E6 is capable of writing some incredible rock hooks backed by eminently danceable beats, and singer Dick Valentine delivers a hell of a live show — dude's got a voice, and he's not afraid to use it. Down a couple drinks and warm up your dancing muscles before M.I.A's set at 4:30. Besides, where else at Lolla are you going to hear thousands of people sing along to a song called "Gay Bar"?
-Nilay Patel

Slightly Stoopid / 3:30pm on the MySpace Stage
Slightly Stoopid mix together surfer rock, reggae, blues and punk making a sound that can only be described as Sublimesque. A long time staple in the Southern California music scene Slightly Stoopid has been amassing fans worldwide with their poignant lyrics, fun live shows and positive energy. The bands grassroots approach to the music industry is refreshing and their early afternoon set fits their style perfectly.
–Brent Kado

M.I.A. / 4:30pm on the Bud Light Stage
Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A. to you and me, grew up in Sri Lanka as the daughter of a political activist. Born in London, she moved back to the UK when she was 11 years old, and the girl's been rapping with a South London accent on her grime/dancehall/hip hop beats ever since. M.I.A. should bring her artistic flash of neon and street-wise swagger to the stage this afternoon, and if you're a fan of Diplo's beats, Peaches' brash lyrics, and of sexy songs with a political message, check this girl out. Your booty will appreciate the workout.
-Anne Holub

G. Love & Special Sauce / 5:30pm on the adidas Stage
We old geezers in the crowd remember G. Love from well over a decade ago, when it seemed like every college radio station in the land was doing the floppy-boot stomp for tracks like "What I Got" and "Cold Beverage." The mix of slack-string blues, marble-mouthed rapping and general good-time party ambiance worked miracles for quite a few years there. Cue the passage of time: the next century drops, and G.'s still kind of doing the same thing, getting precious little love from radio or Sam Goody. Thirteen years down the road, it looks like sticking it out has proved to work in the band's favor. 2006's Lemonade got writers and listeners all a-twitter again (the association with Jack Johnson doesn't hurt either), and this year, the saucy ones released a DVD/CD pack documenting their escapades on the road. But why wait until the next time you're out record shopping? You're already here at Lollapalooza, looking for something to do until The Black Keys go on — go check out some G. Lovin' at the adidas Stage! And if you gotta see/hear more, by all means, the DVD will probably be for sale.
-Chris Sienko

Matt Roan / 6:00pm on the MOTO Mindfield Stage
The hipster scene is bubbling over with DJs these days, but Chicago's own Matt Roan seems to be enjoying the ride. Featured as a hot property to watch by URB (with a slew of other city acts), Roan likes to mix in a heavy dose of '80s and '90s to his underground hip-hop sound. Easy to find playing around the city, be sure to check him out on the big stage.
-Brent Kado

The Black Keys / 6:30pm on the Bud Light Stage
The Black Keys really only have the one trick, but they do it so well it's hard for anyone who started a band in high school with just a guitar and a drumkit not to love them. Dan Auerbach's soulful baritone is as poignant and heartbreaking as any Delta bluesman's, and it shines through on songs like "I'll Be Your Man," "Aeroplane Blues," and, of course, the 2004 hit "10 A.M. Automatic." Add in some killer guitar riffs, Patrick Carney's thunderous drum work, and a few drinks, and the Keys should provide you with a perfect hour-long makeout break before the first night gets really wild.
-Nilay Patel

LCD Soundsystem / 7:30pm on the MySpace Stage
"New York's the greatest / if you can get someone to pay the rent," notes James Murphy in his song, "North American Scum." Wry observations are the specialty of this aging hipster, DFA producer and DJ, who gained recognition as an electronic musician in his own right with his first single, "Losing My Edge," in 2002. Five years on, Murphy's solo project, LCD Soundsystem, has become a flagship for hipsters everywhere, aging or not. Not only has Murphy re-introduced dance music to the hipster genre of music, he's given a voice to the cool crowd—Generation X, Y and millennial kids included. The band's latest venture, Sound of Silver, has been sweeping the universe by storm. Slick '80s pop hooks and rambunctious dance beats topped off by Murphy's appealing brand of irreverent cynicism results in a perfect record, from start to finish. "You spend the first five years trying to get with the plan / and the next five years trying to be with your friends again," he sings in "All My Friends," a snide yet truthful look at what it means to be young, white and attempting to climb to the top. Expect a loyal crowd of fans, singing the words to every song, and feeling like you've found someone who understands you, at last.
-Marla Seidell

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force / 7:30pm on the adidas Stage
Your dad is world-renown for bringing the music to the masses, putting his cultural roots into a career hat spanned decades. You share his last name, and much is made of your talents and thousands of people anticipate your next work. No, not Marley. Femi Kuti, son of Fela, should bring an absolute wall of beats and rhythms. Building upon what his father wrought, he's attempted to cross over into mainstream, with mixed results.
-Troy Hunter

Daft Punk / 8:30pm on the AT&T Stage
It would be ridiculous to imply that Daft Punk are only successful because of their music. (If that were the case, they shouldn't've had such a huge boost after Human After All.) Like many electronic acts, they understand that live programming doesn't exactly enrapture audiences and so the brunt of entertaining falls on the visual components that they bring to their performances. DJing (or just pushing "play"?) from a spaceship in the shape of a pyramid surrounded by interlocking triangles and an enormous LED screen in the background, Daft Punk appear to crowds as robots and perform innovative versions of their music while a mesmerizing light show holds the attention that would otherwise be focused on the performers. It is, in a word, amazing. (I saw them in Los Angeles two weeks ago. It was absolutely bananas.) Consider for a moment that the last time Daft Punk was in Chicago was 1997 and that everyone at Coachella 2006 (even those who don't like electronic music) raves about their performance there. The fact of the matter is Daft Punk is not to be missed. They're an early candidate for the weekend's best set.
-James Ziegenfus

Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals / 8:30pm on the Bud Light Stage
Ben Harper launched his career in 1994 with the sophisticated album, Welcome to the Cruel World. Combining folk and funk, Harper's tunes are laidback, passionate and reflective—an earthy meditation on the state of society. On his most recent album, Both Sides of the Gun (2006), he tackles issues like politics, tension, confusion, and war. An advocate for marijuana, Harper's not shy about voicing his opinion on the topic in his music, as well as his thoughts about love, freedom, and human rights. His new album, Lifeline, is due out August 28th.
-Marla Seidell

Saturday, August 4th

Wee Hairy Beasties / 11:30am on the KIDZ Stage
Since when did everything, including the most outlandish indie rock festival on the planet, get kid friendly. At least this new kid friendliness recasts some of our rock icons as talented kids performers. Wee Hairy Beasties are the alt-country, kids-music-supergroup which features Jon Langford of Mekons fame plus Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms and the talented musicians of the band Devil In A Woodpile. Catch a taste with their namesake song "Wee Hairy Beasties" [mp3].
-Craig Bonnell

Matt & Kim / 11:45am on the adidas Stage
"Yea Yeah" is a pretty infectious bit of bubble-gum popping from your computer speakers, and it's hard to classify it beyond a general understanding that it was cheap to make and they had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. Since then, the duo has revealed close connections to the music scene, finding themselves on the good side of a few remixes and mash-ups, including some from our dear Flosstradamus. And even though they're not the biggest names in the world, they certainly got stuck with a painfully early time slot. Just think of it as a bonus for all you early birds: a dance party all to yourselves while the rest of the fest gets ready.
-Dan Morgridge

The Blisters / 12:15pm on the KIDZ Stage
Making its sophomore appearance at this year's Kidzapalooza are local rockers The Blisters (Not to be confused with the Chicago band The Blissters, who are all very much grown-ups). Yep, there's nary a kid over the age of 11 in this band, whose set includes covers from The Ramones and The Flaming Lips. And even though they're still barely tall enough to see behind their instruments, the group has already been featured in Rolling Stone and starred in a Quaker Oats commercial (See, look at all the cool things kids can do when you don't cut arts funding from their schools!). Granted, the kids in The Blisters do have a leg up in the PR game—the band's founding member is Spencer Tweedy, the progeny of that other Tweedy who's been known to make some noise around town in that band Wilco. Cute, right? Unless you're one of those creepy people who will just show up to see if dad is hanging around. Ew.
-JP Pfafflin

I'm From Barcelona / 12:30pm on the Bud Light Stage
I'm From Barcelona was one of many Swedish bands that broke last year. The oddest thing about this band is the fact that they are 29 members. This limits their ability to tour (can you imagine that many plane tickets from Stockholm to O'hare. Somehow the folks at Lollapalooza booked the band and was able to get them to the states. If their performances in Europe are any indication their appearance at Lollapalooza should be a sweaty, drunken sing-a-long resembling a European Football match more than a festival rock show (here's what happened to one group of Spanish fans after hearing their set.
-Craig Bonnell

David Vandervelde / 1:00pm on the Citi Stage
David Vandervelde's probably been rather annoyed with the media over the last few years — compared to heavyweights from a decade before he was even alive and always paired with the nemesis of a Chicago music icon. And so it makes sense that he's not given up much about himself in interviews and prefers to perform instead of answer questions. But that's ok with most fans because it's not who he is and instead what he does that excites us. Anyone who listens to The Moonstation House Band will hear exactly what propels the oft-discussed comparisons. But those who see him live will hear something else because he's not content with playing what's already been recorded. Just like professional athletes toy with their talents to get better, Vandervelde's been adjusting his live sound to get every ounce of it out and into audiences' ears. Hopefully, he'll take advantage of the spotlight at Lollapalooza to shed the comparisons and simply be himself.
-James Ziegenfus

Sam Roberts / 2:15pm on the PlayStation Stage
Canadian singer/songwriter Sam Roberts hasn't yet broken big in the United States, but his success north of the border, including numerous Juno and MuchMusic wins and nominations, should indicate the man has a talent for music. With a classic rock style of writing pop songs, Roberts has released two LPs (2003's We Were Born in a Flame and 2006's Chemical City) that've been full of big hooks, catchy choruses, and even a few ballads. On the stage, he and his band are loud and aggressive with a no-frills approach. This will be Roberts' first outdoor show in Chicago since the 2005 Hideout Block Party. Don't be surprised if this is where all of your Canadian friends end up on Saturday afternoon.
-James Ziegenfus

STS9 / 3:30pm on the adidas Stage
With luscious extended soundscapes and driving electronic-influenced beats, Sound Tribe Sector 9 brings an intense dance party to crowds wherever they go. A favorite band of Perry Farrell's, STS9 is one of the nation's top grossing live acts, yet their name is nowhere near household. Legions of fans are swarming to see the band because of their driving energy, beautiful music and elaborate light show.
-Brent Kado

Rhymefest / 3:30pm on the PlayStation Stage
South Side Chicago's own Rhymefest derives his legend from events best known behind the scenes. He beat Eminem in a rhyme battle in 1997. He co-wrote "Jesus Walks" with Kanye West. He appeared on other people's albums (Mark Ronson, Kanye West again). With 2006's Blue Collar, though, Rhymefest has dropped one of those albums whose love and praise will probably grow slowly over time. The first thing they'll notice is all the great beats by folks like No I.D., Just Breeze, Kanye West, and Mark Ronson. Eventually, the lyrical skills will be apparent to all, and Rhymefest will get the recognition he deserves, at least among true hip-hop heads (Lord knows what it takes to rouse the Hot 97 crowd in terms of lyrical acumen). Of course, you'll already know how damn good this guy is, cuz you saw him at Lollapalooza 2007! Enjoy your bragging rights.
-Chris Sienko

The Roots / 4:30pm on the Bud Light Stage
Like Sly & the Family Stone, Fishbone, and De La Soul before them, The Roots started their career in a pretty upbeat frame of mind, riding the wave of positivity-based jazz-rap at a time when all of our cares just seemed so much less…um, apocalyptic? Tastes changed, the world grew scarier, and the Roots went the way of Hunter Thompson — not running from the plague, but plugging into the main nerve, turning horror into commentary. Their last few albums have grown exponentially stranger, harder, and wiser in a very short span of time, culminating in 2006's Game Theory. The Roots' much-vaunted "live band + rappers" approach, once putting them in jazzy waters alongside Digable Planets and, er, Urban Dance Squad, has been honed over a decade and a half into a fierce, pounding funk/soul unit that sounds more these days like a live version of the steaming urban landscapes coughed up by The Bomb Squad. The crazed, tinny organ on Game Theory's title cut and the wailing, mournful preacher sample on "Don't Feel Right" clash roughly with indignant lyrical concerns in the same way that Funkadelic did on "Cosmic Slop" — songs writ with "tears of rage" in the classical sense. If you hit this stage, be ready to dance your unselfconscious ass off, and leave spent, but with your hackles just a little bit raised.
-Chris Sienko

Roky Erickson & the Explosives / 5:00pm on the PlayStation Stage
Let me stress to you just how lucky you will be to see Roky Erickson perform today. The 60 year old singer, a pioneer of psychedelic rock with his band, The 13th Floor Elevators, has come as close to the edge as any rock star (or human being, for that matter) ever has, and returned to us to tell about it. If you've seen the documentary about Roky You're Gonna Miss Me that came through town again recently, then you know what I mean. Erickson has battled drugs, mental illness, mental institutions (not necessarily in that order) and about as healthy a home life as a nuclear test site. He made it to the stage in Chicago last summer at the Intonation Festival, and if you're at Lollapalooza this weekend, you really have to go and catch this set because it just could be your last chance. Roky, with his group "the Explosives" (a more appropriate backing band name was never made before) will hit the stage today with the electric blues-influenced rock energy of a ten-ton bomb. Get up close to feel the aftershocks yourself.
-Anne Holub

Snow Patrol / 6:30pm on the Bud Light Stage
Fine. I admit it. I like Snow Patrol. I'll wait for the gay jokes and asshole comments about "Grey's Anatomy" lunchboxes to pass. I also like Erasure and The Pet Shop Boys, so I'm used to it, while you are probably a virgin. But ask yourself this: is it so wrong to like a band that basically only exists so college kids can make their feverish drunk hookups seem poignant rather than kind of sad? Do you want to live in world where pretty girls don't smear their eye makeup singing along to songs like "Run?" Given the incredible mediocrity of all the goddamn post-rock that's infecting our world right now, isn't an earnest, well-produced 4/4 guitar band almost the perfect antidote? In short, can you honestly look me in the eyes and say that you don't secretly love Snow Patrol, too?
-Nilay Patel

Interpol / 8:30pm on the Bud Light Stage
New wave indie rockers Interpol was formed in 1998, by former NYU students. Part of the immense success the band has experienced stems from the seductive quality of their music, and that while categorized as post-punk/garage, there is a mysterious element to it that defies classification. "Pioneer to Fall," a song on their newly released album, Our Love to Admire, is a good example of this, especially the moody prelude. Intense melancholy stirred up with heady atmospherics, with a good dose of garage rock thrown in. What sets them apart from other post-punk/garage bands is an ethereal dreaminess and catchy, Cure-like driving beats. Lush, romanticized lyrics, while for the most part overdone, nevertheless lend themselves to the band's dramatic appeal.
-Marla Seidell

Sunday, August 5th

Smoosh / 1:45pm on the BMI Stage
It's easy to write-off Smoosh as a novelty act because of their ages (they formed as a duo seven years ago, when singer-keyboardist Asya was 10, and her drummer-sister Chloe was 8), but these two Seattle teenagers are writing some pretty darn good indie-pop songs. After being discovered by Death Cab for Cutie drummer Jason McGerr (he was Chloe's drum teacher), the tweens found themselves with fans like Cat Power and Eddie Vedder, and last year, Smoosh released Free to Stay—its first record on the notable indie label Barsuk—to critical acclaim for its pop hooks and its age-appropriate songwriting (No Lindsay Lohan-ing here). It's often difficult to be a teenaged girl—and being armed with a musical instrument is just one way to survive.
-JP Pfafflin

Lupe Fiasco vs. Amy Winehouse / 2:15pm on the AT&T Stage and Bud Light Stage
Chicago's best-kept secret (even after he blew up) is coming back to the big festival circuit. If you missed his electrifying performance at Intonation last year, you get another chance to see Lupe working a stadium-sized crowd, and don't you let that beehived strumpet from across the way steal our hometown hero's thunder. While this year's hype brigade has pushed Ms. Winehouse to its forefront, it's safe to say that her tabloid-ready self-destruction does not make for good live entertainment (unless you really like schaudenfraude). With the most excellent Dap-Kings band across the country on tour the day before, it seems unlikely that they'll lend their perfect horns and funky rhythms to the mix, taking away the saving grace of her recent show at the Vic. Meanwhile, Lupe just spat some red-hot, Twista-paced rhymes on the Gemini mixtape, showing that minus the hype, Lupe has been consistently delivering substance. In other words, Lupe's got your food, and Amy's just got liquor.
-Dan Morgridge

Apostle of Hustle / 3:30pm on the PlayStation Stage
Last year's Lollapalooza festival ended (well, ok, it was nearly at the end) with one of the best live sets I've ever seen, all thanks to the stunning musical abilities of a little Canadian group called Broken Social Scene. This year's Sunday afternoon Canadian act is the side project of Andrew Whiteman, a member of said Scene, and his kicky side project Apostle of Hustle. No strangers to town, the Hustle came through Chicago quite a bit this past June for some whirlwind Wednesdays at Schubas, but this is their big sun on the shoulders gig for the summer. Whiteman and his gang (which ranges from a trio to a quintet in size) will bring some serious songwriting, lyric swooning, and probably some fluttery eyes out to the ladies. They have some latin-inspired tunes in their repertoire which kind of paints the band in the hazy light of a late afternoon in old Mexico (you know, a drunken haze that you can only remember in pictures on a disposable camera you somehow hang on to through the weekend). Hola, Amigos. Welcome back to the land south of the border.
-Anne Holub

Iggy and the Stooges / 4:15pm on the Bud Light Stage
I didn't get a chance to see Iggy and The Stooges last Chicago show at The Congress Theater in April, but from all impressions, the ageless wildman and his new-old-look Stooges still crank out the jams like it's the first time peanut butter hit nipple. There's not a lot to say about this show, actually — Iggy's not really looking to make new fans anymore: there are Stooges people, and there are chumps, and you ain't gonna change how God made you. Picking Steve Albini to record their new record, The Weirdness, was an inspired choice, but you're going to stand in the sun and sing along to "Raw Power" and "Search and Destroy" and yell for "Lust for Life" no matter how good the new stuff is. At least I am.
-Nilay Patel

My Morning Jacket / 6:15pm on the AT&T Stage
Jim and his gents have built such a reputation for being a great live act, one becomes pretty sure that other bands have to ask permission to use the phrase. A sleepy log cabin in sunshiney woods on record, the boys mean business when they tour. In march they held a themed prom in Athens, GA, resplendent with robots and undersea motifs. But don't expect any Of Montreal-style wackiness here — We're talking high-kickin' boots, whiskey bottles shaped like boots, and one hell of a guitar attack (to boot). If you don't follow their suit, at least tie your laces — rumor has it that MMJ attracts mysterious, dance-friendly crowd members like jam band fans and people over thirty-five who "can't remember the last time [they] let loose like this". Let them have their fun, and while you're at it, join in.
-Dan Morgridge

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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