Well I had a huge test yesterday, and for awhile there it looked like we weren’t going to go to Lollapalooza at all… but I sucked it up and we were able to make it for just one day, and that day was Saturday. Me and Kristin headed up Friday night after work/school and drove back Sunday morning, and I studied the whole way. In between, though, we heard some pretty amazing music. Click on for the rundown:
Mimicking Birds: We started the day at 11:30 with Mimicking Birds, whose debut album came out this year on Isaac Brock’s Glacial Pace label. I’ve been interested in them for a couple years now ever since their song “The Loop” began playing on Glacial Pace’s homepage, and was excited for the chance to see them. They were pretty great, playing a bunch of pretty tunes from their debut, including “The Loop” and “Burning Stars”. I was especially impressed with their drummer, who was working a lot harder than their mellow indie-folk vibe lets on. Check these guys out.
In what turned out to be our only downtime all day we caught just a single song from The Morning Benders as we walked by, and it happened to be “Excuses”, the fantastic opener from their recent record. It seems like they’ve matured a bit as a band since the last time we saw them, and they sounded great.
Rogue Wave: These guys put on a fantastic show. I haven’t been loving their recent record, but after seeing them perform several songs from it like “Solitary Gun” and “Stars and Stripes” I think I could warm up to it a bit. After playing several new songs, they turned back to a slew of older material, including “Publish My Love” and the very appropriate “Lake Michigan” (considering its namesake was visible from the stage). They were so energetic and obviously excited to be there (“this is the end of our tour and this is the most people we’ve seen!”), and they even closed with “Harmonium”, my very favorite track from Asleep At Heaven’s Gate. It was so good to finally see these guys.
Stars: They were pretty great… putting on the cheesiest live show, replete with melodramatic dance moves, white roses flung into the audience, and the most over-the-top stage banter (“we’re Stars from Montreal… and so are you! You’re ALL stars from Montreal”) – all along to some rock-solid synth pop. They leaned heavily on material from The Five Ghosts, but threw in some old favorites too (“Elevator Love Letter”, “Your Ex-lover is Dead”, “Going, Going, Gone”). I’ve wanted to see Stars forever, and they didn’t let me down.
After Stars, Kristin headed over to see The xx while I went to refill our water bottles (it was very hot). I had planned on getting over to see Dawes at the Bloggie stage, but there was literally a 30 minute line to refill water, and by the time I was finally all hydrated it was already time to meet back up with Kristin and head over to see Grizzly Bear. I’d be bummed, but there’s really no way we could have functioned the rest of the afternoon without water – you know, physiology and stuff. I hope to be able to see Dawes soon somehow, I keep hearing good things.
Grizzly Bear: By this point in the day the crowds were getting pretty nuts, but we managed to get pretty decent spots to see Ed Droste and co. It was pretty surreal to hear songs like “Two Weeks” and “Southern Point” in that kind of a setting, surrounded by thousands of people who could more or less sing along (as much as you can to Grizzly Bear songs). I was especially excited to hear “Knife” and “While You Wait For The Others”, and even though I’m sure these songs would be infinitely better in a more intimate setting, it was still great to finally see these guys.
Metric: This is one of Kristin’s favorite groups so we headed over a bit early to get some good spots – and man was it worth it. They put on probably the most energetic rock & roll show of the day, with Emily Haines absolutely killing it all over the Playstation stage. They opened with the heavy-hitting “Black Sheep”, but the rest of their set was almost exclusively made up of songs from last year’s Fantasies, with showstoppers “Help I’m Alive”, “Gimme Sympathy” and “Stadium Love” getting the crowd all in a tizzy. I’m really not kidding though, I can’t think of any other modern day equivalent for Emily Haine’s stage presence… she really was incredible.
Spoon: We only got to see the beginning of Spoon’s set, but the first seven or so songs we saw were perfect. After opening with a Britt Daniels-only version of “Me and the Bean”, the whole band took the stage for “Nobody Gets Me But You”, the twitchy dance-number that closes Transference, and one of my very favorites cuts from that record. They brought out the big guns (read: the big horns) for a killer take on “The Underdog”, and we were lucky enough to see them smash out “Don’t You Evah”, “Stay Don’t Go” and “Written In Reverse” before we ducked out to catch…
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: who were, by the way, probably the highlight of the entire day. If you haven’t heard yet, these guys are what live music is all about. As we rushed over from Spoon’s set we were guided by the opening bells and mmbops of “Janglin” as it wafted out of the trees at the Bloggie stage. After we made our way through the throngs among the trees we found ourselves in a huge mass of jubilantly dancing festival-goers who had whole-heartedly embraced Sharpe’s gospel of love and musical bliss. It was something to behold as the dozen-or-so member band followed a shirtless Sharpe and Jade Castrinos through the euphoric sing-alongs of “Carries On”, “Up From Below”, “Home”, and the newer “River of Love”. I got a few tingles up my spine on the closer “Om Nashi Me”, and during the encore performance of “Brother”, when Sharpe had the entire crowd sit down around him and his guitar (almost the entire crowd anyway – I’m looking at you, belligerent drunk guys in front of us). But even those standing buffoons couldn’t ruin such an incredible set – if you can see these guys live, do it. For goodness sake, do it.
mp3: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – River of Love
live from YouTube
Cut Copy: After Edward Sharpe we took a quick gyro break before heading over to see Cut Copy back at the Playstation stage. We walked up right as they tore into their new song “Where I’m Going” (which I’m kind of obsessed with right now, by the way). I’ve only listened very casually to Cut Copy over the last couple years, but after seeing them live I’ve got to say that they completely won me over. Singer Dan Whitford was so incredibly endearing as he beamed and geeky-danced all over the stage, exclaiming every so often about how incredible it was to be playing for such a huge crowd. They were just so dang likable! In addition to solid favorites like “Feel The Love”Â and “Hearts On Fire”, they unveiled a couple new songs from their forth-coming record, including the almost-anthemic “Alisa” and “Blink And You’ll Miss The Revolution”. The sea of bobbing heads were evidence that these new songs are just as infectious as the rest of their catalog, and I’m officially excited to hear what they’ve got coming.
mp3: Cut Copy – Where I’m Going
from their forthcoming album
Phoenix: As we settled in among the thousands of fans singing along to Phoenix’s opener “Lisztomania”, me and Kristin looked around a little stunned and she said to me “I didn’t know Phoenix was so popular”, to which I responded “I didn’t either.” After their first couple songs a wide-eyed Thomas Mars looked out at the unbelievably large crowd and said, a little awestruck, “This is the most people we’ve ever played for”. I guess even Phoenix didn’t know quite how big Phoenix is. Well, after seeing them I can testify that they’ve earned the right to play for a crowd like that, because every single song from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (and they played every last one) was a no-holds-barred stadium rock anthem. They killed it, and like Cut Copy, it was just fun to see a band that was so appreciative to play for an audience that huge. They played some oldies too, like “Long Distance Call”, “Rally” and “Funky Squaredance”, before coming out for an encore of “Playground Love” (the Air song from The Virgin Suicides that Mars actually sung on), “If I Ever Feel Better”, and of course “1901”.
That pretty much sums up our day. Although we would have loved to have stayed and heard some of the incredible acts the next day, it just wasn’t in the cards this time. Next year in Chicago then my friends. Next year in Chicago. If I get around to it I’ll upload some pictures later. They’re not amazing (our point-and-shoot is pretty much in it’s death throes), so we’ll see.