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Feature Tue Aug 04 2009
Here we go with the second installment of our set-to-set matchup of Lollapalooza's bands. Today's battles rage on as Friday and Saturday's music starts to heat up. Keep reading for our picks on what to hear when.
Friday Early Afternoon, August 7
Hockey vs Henry Clay People: Friday 11:30am-12:15pm
Here we have two bands who've been building steam for a couple years now while
being unfairly compared to great or even iconic bands. First, there's Orange County's Henry Clay People who're oft-likened to early Pavement and the Replacements because that clearly doesn't set the bar too high for any young band. They have a few jangly indie-rock albums under their belt and quite a reputation as a solid live band in southern California. But they haven't really broken out of that region apart from touring with Airborne Toxic Event. Next, we have Portland's Hockey. (I thought they'd be Canadian. But I also didn't expect a SoCal band to take the name of a Kentuckian from John Quincy Adams' cabinet.) As The Guardian so aptly put it last year, they sound like "if James Murphy produced the Strokes." They also sound like they'd be a hell of a lot of fun to watch, but do they have the material to keep it going for a full set? That's up in the air. What's for sure, though, is that both of these bands have an excellent opportunity to display their potential by kicking off Lollapalooza on Friday morning.
Hockey performs at the PlayStation Stage and Henry Clay People play on the vitaminwater Stage on Friday from 11:30am-12:15pm.
Gringo Star vs. Hey Champ vs. Manchester Orchestra
Atlanta's Gringo Star do earn a few bonus points for having a song that shares a name with this fine blog, but their chuggy, dreamy psych is on occasion crowd-moving, you'd probably be best catching them somewhere more intimate. Meanwhile, ATL gets some more reps from the sneakily-named Manchester Orchestra. The gents pack a good wallop onto their ballads, but the vocals teeter a bit towards power-pop, if you're aversive to such a thing. Our recommendation? Check out local fellas Hey Champ as they play their synth-tastic DJ-friendly brand of sparkly disco-indie jams. Their hit single "Cold Dust Girl" should be a great way to get everyone dancing and woken up with a smile for a long day at the festival.
Gringo Star plays the BMI Stage from 12:30-1:15pm, and Hey Champ hits the Chicago 2016 Stage and Manchester Orchestra plays the Budweiser Stage from 12:15-1pm, Friday.
White Lies vs Gaslight Anthem, Friday 2-3pm
If you're planning on checking out Depeche Mode on Friday night, London's White Lies would be a perfect way to get you in the mood. An English band pairing doom and gloom with synthesizers? Sounds familiar. Add in some heavy bass lines and haunting rock 'n' roll vocals, then mix in blood, death, and the supernatural and you've got White Lies. The Gaslight Anthem are a Jersey shore punk rock quartet who play intricate songs about middle America. Often compared to Bruce Springsteen, The Gaslight Anthem were just recently joined on stage by The Boss himself during their set at Glastonbury. While The Gaslight Anthem are sure to put on a good show at Lolla, we've got another opportunity to see them over the weekend (they're playing a free after-party at the Double Door Saturday night).
This one's a close call, but in the interest of seizing a good spot at the Budweiser stage for Ben Folds and The Decemberists, White Lies wins out. Besides, who doesn't love a little melancholia in the early afternoon?
White Lies play the Budweiser Stage and Gaslight Anthem play the Chicago 2016 Stage on Friday from 2-3pm
Bon Iver vs. Heartless Bastards: Friday, 3-4pm
I am still torn on this one. I'd be lying if I pretended otherwise. Bon Iver produce just the solitude-induced, ghostly and melodic indie-folk that I crave. It's the kind that sends chills perfectly down my spine. Heartless Bastards dish out a dirty blues-rock that is incredibly lush and flowing with warmth. Both encapsulate a deep and breathing soul. Both have layered and textured sounds that seem as though they'll transfer equally to the festival environment - although it will be interesting to see how Bon Iver's multi-layered vocal approach is replicated in this setting. Ultimately, my decision will be one based on mood. If you're seeking haunting folk music, Bon Iver awaits. If you're in the mood for some blues-rock fervor, Heartless Bastards is your band. If you're still torn like me, go where your mood takes you at the moment.
Bon Iver performs on the PlayStation Stage and Heartless Bastards play on the vitaminwater Stage on Friday from 3-4pm
Hollywood Holt vs STS9: Friday, 3:45-5pm
This is the local boy versus the festival-sized dance/trance band matchup. Hollywood Holt has made a name for himself around Chicago and nationally as a scrappy up-and-coming rap artist, with beats that are bounceable and rhymes that sport that old skool flare of chest puffing bravado and drrrrty sexy come-ons. When I saw him in the fall opening for Matt & Kim at Subterranean, he was an enthusiastic MC (at one point removing his shirt for the laydees), but needed to work on his cardio at the gym more than his pecs as he was panting and catching his breath between songs. I hope the heat doesn't knock this guy out on Saturday. That being said, it might be a great opportunity to see a local boy before he blows up (think back if you had been able to see Kanye West or Common before they started designing their own clothing lines). STS9 (aka Sound Tribe Sector 9) has established a loyal fan base over the years comprised of lovers of dancy electronica just perfect for the festival circuit. Their website has loads of streaming sets from their recent shows at Rothbury in Michigan and at large venues like the Congress Theater (in March) and The Fillmore in San Francisco. There'll no doubt be a sweet sweet light show (that will be completely lost at four in the afternoon) and loads of noodle dancing. But hey, if you're in the mood to have some mid-afternoon downtime, this is the show to lay in the grass and do some cloud watching to. You can use it as an excuse to start to stake out a spot for Depeche Mode who perform later on in the evening on the same stage.
Hollywood Holt performs on Perry's Stage from 3:45-4:45pm and STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) perform on the Chicago 2016 Stage from 4-5pm on Friday
Saturday Early Afternoon, August 8
Federico Aubele vs Kaskade: Saturday 1:30-2:30pm
It's uncanny how much Federico Aubele looks like SNL video guru Andy Samberg with his mop of unruly dark hair and lanky frame. I halfway expected his website stream to be a version of "Lazy Sunday". But instead, this Argentinean is a deep honey-throated singer of tango-inspired tunes. If you want to catch a wee nip of what he's like live, you can listen to his KEXP performance. Federico will likely be performing songs from his latest album Panamericana and woo-ing the ladies with his sultry voice and classical guitar. He'll be the cool stage easing you into the day on Saturday. I doubt he'll even break into a sweat. On the other hand, Chicago-born DJ Kaskade is probably hoping to get you sweaty as you dance at his stage. (That's Kaskade pronounced like "cascade".) He's a "deep house" or "progressive house" DJ, working his fades to dial up up up the beatz. He's worked some recently with DJ Deadmau5 to produce some successful house tracks, but I'm not sure if his selection for Lollapalooza was an effort by the promoters to bring more house music to the festival (and at 1:30 in the afternoon, I'm not sure about their intentions here) or to bring some modicum of native Chicago performers to the ticket. Either way, I'm not really feeling like I'll want to get up in da club so early in the day. If you want to get down with it, wait till he DJs at SmartBar Satuday night. I'll take the soulful Argentinean and his guitar for starters, thank you.
Federico Aubele performs on the PlayStation Stage and Kaskade plays on Perry's Stage on Saturday from 1:30-2:30pm
Los Campesinos vs. Animal Collective DJ set vs. Atmosphere: Saturday, 2:30-3:30pm
Los Campesinos take the rich tradition of indie Welsh pop and stand it a bit on its ear — the soft coos and lilting voice you know so well gets backed by cymbals and strings and a smorgasbord of goofy fun. Atmosphere, on the other hand, comes from Minnesota's deep backpacker scene, and if you're expecting witty, snarky rhymes with no punches pulled on himself or any other topic, Slug's your man. Against these two excellent options, we'd still say you're best off peeking in on the Animal Collective DJ set. While their live show is always a mixed bag of high peaks and long jammy lows, the boys have deep crates and an esoteric touch for making it all come together. Deerhunter's Bradford Cox had posted some of their individual summer mixes a while back on the band's blog- find them for a taste, or just make a note to see it in the flesh.
Los Campesinos perform on the Budweiser Stage, the Animal Collective DJ set gets down on Perry's Stage and Atmosphere perform on the Chicago 2016 Stage on Saturday from 2:30-3:30pm
Joe Pug vs Care Bears on Fire: Saturday, 3-3:45pm
Locally based Americana singer/songwriter Joe Pug has been gaining fans for a few years as he played gigs around town at places like Schubas. He's sweet, melodic, and his songs tell great stories. It is a polar opposite to Care Bears on Fire, a Brooklyn trio of three tween girls who started the band when they were in fifth grade. The challenge here is finding out what you might be in the mood for when the time com. Pug is known for great shows for the folk music loving set and it's always nice to support the locals, but who could resist the precocious three chord punk (and great band name) of Care Bears on Fire? For me, I'm gonna support the ladies and wish I was as cool like that when I was their age.
Joe Pug performs on the BMI Stage from 3-3:45pm and Care Bears on Fire play on the Kidzapalooza Stage from 3-3:30pm on Saturday