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Wednesday, December 13

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Transmission
« Lollapalooza Day 1: Half days at work, lobster corn dogs, and a little band called Muse Lollapalooza Day 3: Rain, Mud, and Rock 'n' Roll »

Lollapalooza Sun Aug 07 2011

Lollapalooza Day 2: Massive crowds, Mad Max Cee Lo, and Eminem

Around The Park by Steve Wrubel

Lollapalooza crowd by Steve Wrubel for Lollapalooza

Saturday was off to a difficult start before I even got inside Lollapalooza. I was wedged next to a guy trying to get into the overcrowded Monroe entrance, his toe torn open and bloodied. Not a good sign of things to come, as temperatures crept up and some of the crowd was whiny and clearly on edge. I did appreciate the brutal honesty of the guy out front, who I assumed was selling tickets but instead asked me "do you have a blunt I could buy?" while standing less than two feet from a Chicago police officer. Lollapalooza; where all manners and human intelligence tends to fall to the wayside. Meanwhile Niki Fritz also encountered some problems upon entering the grounds.

On Saturday afternoon, the 20th anniversary wristbands that Lolla organizers no
doubt spent months designing, failed to do the one thing they needed to do: work. A
large majority of wristbands failed to scan. Instead of allowing wristband wearers,
fans $200 invested in Lolla, to pass, they made swarms of hot wet fans wait while
two employees jogged from one entrance to the next scanning people in manually.
EPIC FAIL.
-Niki Fritz

Keep reading to learn how the rest of the day went, and keep checking back for more coverage from Lollapalooza.

Fitz & The Tantrums by Dave Mead

Fitz & The Tantrums by Dave Mead for Lollapalooza

Fitz and the Tantrums started Saturday off with the spirit of Lollapalooza, real people who love real music. The band does not have a guitar but the addition of a saxophone, keyboard and hard-core flute, made the band just as rock and roll. Lead singers, Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, ruled the stage in read suit and leopard print dress respectively. They shared the stage well, feeding off the
crowd and each other. From jumping handclaps to getting low to call backs the band included the crowd in every song. With their deep soul croons, the brought a bit of welcomed '60s lounge to Lollapalooza.
-Niki Fritz

Black Lips by Matt Ellis

Black Lips by Matt Ellis for Lollapalooza

Once inside, I headed over to catch some of Black Lips, the southern garage rock outfit I interviewed a few years ago at Pitchfork Festival. I also saw the band at Logan Square Auditorium a year later in 2010, and despite the fact I couldn't understand a word being sung, it was a messy, rowdy, fun show. Their latest album was produced by Mark Ronson, and shows a more polished version of the retro rock that Black Lips are known for. Clearly Ronson lit a fire under the band, because their set Saturday was still messy and fun, but showed a more mature and cohesive band. I could actually understand the lyrics, and the abrasive dirty sound was still evident as ever, but sounded like a put together act. The Black Lips have come a long way in their career, catching an obvious stride (they were recently on the cover of SPIN magazine) that is well deserved for such a hardworking band.

Death From Above 1979 by Matt Ellis

Death From Above 1979 by Matt Ellis for Lollapalooza

I already saw the revived from the dead Canadian rock duo Thursday night at the Metro, so seeing Death From Above 1979 (DFA1979) again was just icing on the cake. I first was blown away when I saw the band play Intonation Festival (what would later become Pitchfork Festival) and whipped up a giant dust storm in the baseball diamond of Union Park from their massive mosh pit. The music is aggressive dance punk, and it's amazing the amount of sound coming from just two guys. The band broke up not long after, but recently reunited and their Lollapalooza slot is one of their stops since reuniting. I'd be lying if I said their set Saturday was as good or better than their Thursday set at the Metro, but that is like comparing apples and oranges. In a smaller venue like the Metro, a sold out crowd of fans, you expect things to reach a feverish level. Their Saturday set still gave the crowd both blistering volume and energy, and the mud pit of dancing fans up front approved. One of my favorite Lolla moments so far happened when singer Sebastien Grainger jumped off his drumkit, ran over to the ASL interpreter, and started dancing with her. Grainger then proceeded to hit on the woman in a very cheeky manner, all the while she is signing how he is hitting on her. I'm glad Grainger highlighted the lovely interpreters at Lolla, because the energy they give is outstanding, and they truly work as hard as many of the rockstars they are signing for.

After being baked in the sun, I headed for some shade to catch some of Patrick Stump at the BMI stage. Stump is best known for his work in Fall Out Boy, the pop punk band from the northern Chicago suburbs that broke big back in 2004. The band is currently taking a break while members are working on other projects, including Stump's solo efforts. Despite some sound levels at the start, which we remedied on our own by moving farther away from the stage, Stump busted out a set full of R&B infused pop. You can tell he really has a vision for what he wants, his full band dressed up in dapper-meets-'80s suits and by their stage interaction you can tell they have a plan when performing. Stump's voice fits his solo work perfectly, his velvety croon echoing through the trees and ringing clear. The highlight was towards the end when he did a covers medley that included Montell Jordan and Bell Biv DeVoe, the crowd singing along.

Local Natives by Dave Mead

Local Natives by Dave Mead for Lollapalooza

Local Natives played to a mud soaked field packed fuller than they or their fans
anticipated. They played classic indie rock songs to a swaying crowd who echoed
back their lyrics. They were the perfect background music to the Chicago skyline. -Niki Fritz

Cee Lo by Dave Mead

Cee Lo by Dave Mead for Lollapalooza

Cee Lo sang decked out in spikes and leather to a packed crowd. But it was his band of female dominatrixes rocking the drums and guitars in short shorts and bustiers who rocked the crowd. Cee Lo Green and his ladies showed Chicago how to be sexy with empowered rocker women and a passionate man. They brought sexy to Lollapalooza this year.
-Niki Fritz

I had such high hopes for Cee Lo's set Saturday at Lolla, but an overpacked crowd and sound problems gave us a fairly flat set from the flamboyant crooner. His all female backing band, part of his stage production since the release of The Lady Killer, entered the stage decked out in black leather and spikes, and after an introduction Cee Lo made his entrance in full Mad Max fashion, football shoulder pads and all. He opened with a cover of Danzig's "Mother" which sounded like it was being sung through a broken mic. Meanwhile the crowd around me was getting stuck trying to move, and starting to get violent. Some fans tried to crawl over the wheelchair access area, and when a Lollapalooza volunteer stopped him, the rowdy fan attempted to throw a punch. The crap sound of Cee Lo's set wasn't helping to calm the audience, as he trudged through a set of covers and solo work (and a few Gnarls Barkley tracks) with too much downtime between songs. The set just felt off and messy, and even with an enjoyable Billy Idol cover, it couldn't recover. He ended the set with obvious crowd favorite, "Fuck You," but at that point it felt like the towel had already been thrown in.

My Morning Jacket by Jack Edinger

My Morning Jacket by Jack Edinger for Lollapalooza

My Morning Jacket played to a noticeably under-capacity crowd. But despite the band's seemingly lack of popularity they played like headliners should, sweat and energy in every song from the classics to tracks from their most recent album. Fans used the extra space to dance and rock out like one should a rock concert.
-Niki Fritz

Eminem by Dave Mead

Eminem by Dave Mead for Lollapalooza

I ended my night catching Eminem simply for the fact that I've already seen the other three acts and I don't think I'd ever actively go see Eminem in concert. We were able to snag a spot up on a hill, so the vantage point was perfect. Eminem's set wasn't just a hip-hop show, it was evidence why he is a superstar that can cross music borders. His set was comprised of mostly new work, included a surprise appearance by Bruno Mars on their new single "Lighters" and also guest vocals by Skylar Grey who played the BMI stage earlier in the day. He did pepper his set with a montage of early hits, which had the crowd singing along, the entire field with their hands in the air. It was a bit surreal watching the massive amount of humans bopping along in unison, but totally deserved as Eminem frantically worked the stage, full of tense energy as he smoothly spit out every verse. His performance was fluid and had a good amount of flair and dramatics, keeping the crowd's attention throughout the 1.5 hour set. He returned to the stage for a perfect encore of his Oscar award winning track "Lose Yourself" from the film 8 Mile. The song is so universally popular, full of drive and fight for doing what you love despite hard times, a message that appeals to the masses, and the energy of the crowd reached a peak during the chorus, while flares rained sparklers down over the stage as the entire field sung along.

 
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