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Lollapalooza Thu Aug 02 2012
Into the final stretch at Lollapalooza, and now you really don't want to waste a moment. Here's our best take on what to catch, and what to skip in favor of a bathroom break, on Sunday.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
3:30-4:15pm - The Walkmen vs. Dum Dum Girls
The late afternoon is often a difficult time for me to choose between festival acts; I consistently think to myself, is there an act I'm clamoring to see, or would I rather just sit this hour out and cool off in the shade before the evening's headliners? These two acts, however, are forces that should be paid the attention that they are due, even if it is during that awkward late afternoon stretch. The Walkmen are no strangers to Lollapalooza; heck, you might have even, like me, seen them two years ago during their first Lollapalooza appearance. Though I promise you, you won't feel like you're watching the same set this time around; The Walkmen have developed their style immensely since their last Lolla appearance. Each of the group's albums have displayed the band as consistently honing in on their sound, refining and updating their style each time. Their latest album released this year, Heaven, is a glimmering indie rock gem, an emerging cornerstone of The Walkmen's musical catalogue, and will be a great addition to The Walkmen's second Lollapalooza set.
For Dum Dum Girls, this will be their very first Lollapalooza appearance. This group emits an infectious '60s pop vibe, which will send audience members into a toe-tapping frenzy with their sunny, lo-fi beats. For me, this choice is an easy one; The Walkmen have a beautiful sound, but one that is much better suited for an open, cavernous venue in which each soft sound can be amplified for a hushed, watchful audience. I'd much rather put on my dancing shoes and listen to Dum Dum Girls, who will get the crowd moving and energized for the last night of the festival's reign.
5pm-6:15pm - Amadou & Mariam vs. Toro Y Moi
Despite the "and", this battle is between three musicians performing on two stages, not four. Amadou & Mariam are the talented blind singer/songwriters from Mali whose lack of sight, does not in any way hinder their ability to present some totally danceable Afro-pop tracks. Their colorful native costumes, backing by a full band of diggable musicians, along with Amadou's guitar paired with the couple's vocals, make you want to shake your rump and sing along, like only (wait for it) World Music, can — even if they are singing in the Malian language Bambara. On that multilingual front, Lolla has been lacking, though it once featured French/Spanish singer Manu Chao on its stages, which I suppose is fitting since he also produced one of Amadou & Mariam's breakthru albums — Dimanche à Bamako (2004). Several albums later, their most recent release, Folila (2012) features tracks with Santigold as well as members of TV on the Radio, among others, so don't be surprised if maybe there are surprise guests. I'd just be content with Amadou & Mariam, however, so you'd find me there.
If you roll up for Toro y Moi, don't be surprised when it's just one guy up on stage. Known in real life as Chazwick Bundick, Toro y Moi is a one-man chillwave machine, making his own brand of relaxed clubby goodness for only a few years. If you're already spun out on the festival, this would be a good place to lie down and watch the clouds float by. My vote, however, is for the set with the couple from Africa, if anything, to appreciate their journey to Lollapalooza, in every sense of the word.
6-7:30pm - At The Drive-in vs. Florence and the Machine
If you grew up a pop punk kid in the mid to late '90s, chances are you drove around some suburban wasteland screaming along with At the Drive-In. The music was loud, emotional, and full of tension, a very fitting soundtrack for many a high school youth. The band called it quits in 2001, splintering off mainly between the the more instrumental solo heavy The Mars Volta and the still pop punk Sparta. But neither act sounded as strong as At the Drive-In did during their finest hour. The band reunited this year, and Lollapalooza is their only Chicago date thus far, so if you love a good nostalgic reunion act, make sure to drop by and relive someones youth.
Florence and the Machine has come a long way from the days of the soundtracking what seemed to be a one hit wonder movie song. After gaining popularity with her addictive track "Dog Days Are Over," Florence Welch, the main woman behind the moniker, has proven a lasting affect thanks to her honest songwriting and one incredible set of pipes. Welch has a knack for crafting the most uplifting and inspiring choruses, which has garnered critical and worldwide audience attention. Throw in some serious flair in stage presence and wardrobe and you've got the makings of a strong impressive leading lady. The hits might grab you, but Welch will surely enchant you and keep your attention for the rest of the set.
7:15-8:15pm - The Big Pink vs. Miike Snow
In one corner, you have the Big Pink, whose blend of electronic-infused shoegaze/noise came together magnificently on 2009's A Brief History of Love. They were loud, brash, punchy and exuded potential for better things. The following summer, however, they defined "phoning it in" at Lincoln Hall and Lollapalooza with the same dull 40-minute set at both shows. Singer/guitarist Robbie Furze tried to channel coolly indifferent British frontmen, but failed to deliver a worthy performance. In the other corner, you have Miike Snow, who wowed a small but adoring crowd at Lollapalooza in 2009 on the strength of their hit "Animal." The multi-national indie-electronic band improvised on tracks from their debut album with fresh arrangements and had the crowd engaged throughout. At subsequent shows in Chicago (such as at the Empty Bottle, Metro and the Riv), they've always had new tricks up their sleeve. This year's Happy to You should provide them with ample opportunities to wow again.
8:15-10pm - Justice vs. Childish Gambino vs. Jack White
The Lollapalooza gods have been unkind to us Sunday night as they decided to pit three of the best headliners up against each other. On the plus side, you are pretty much guaranteed to close out the festival with a solid show. Over at the Red Bull Soundstage, we've got a man who certainly needs no introduction. Between his time with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, Jack White knows what he's doing. French DJ duo Justice would be a good choice if you're more concerned with dancing and losing yourself in the music than seeing an actual performance, as the two spend their entire show buried behind a wall of Marshall stacks. On the other hand, rapper Childish Gambino (Donald Glover of "Community" fame) knows how to work a stage, likely due to his acting background. If you were smart, you could have snagged a ticket to Childish Gambino's Saturday night after-party at The Vic to free yourself up to check out one of the other acts Sunday night. The show has now been sold out for ages, so you are otherwise out of luck. It's going to be a tough choice on Sunday night, but really any of these acts will be a winner. This one's a toss-up.