August 9th, 2007 | by JAY HORTON Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns, Columns

Jay Horton at Lollapalooza, Part One: "We'll Make Great Pets"

     
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mia WW Freelancer Jay Horton braved this year's Lollapalooza in Chicago to check out some Portland bands playing there. We asked him to chronicle his entire festival experience for LocalCut (his print story on Spoon lives here). Part Two. Part Three.

We'll Make Great Pets
Fear, loathing, heat prostration at Lollapalooza

Cubs/Phillies
Wrigley Stage
9:28 PM 7/31/07


"For folks in the Chicagoland area, we have Lollapalooza coming up this weekend at Grant Park."

"Great line-up this year—Ben Harper, Modest Mouse, Pearl Jam."

"And, of course, we'll have Eddie Vedder in the booth this Friday."

"Always fun. He's a great fan."

It's easy to ridicule rock star hypocrisies, yes, and something worse to pretend music festivals were ever anything more than circuses as the Romans understood circuses. Did indie sell out? Did shitheads buy in? Did Harry Carey and Kurt Cobain, seated across from one another midst purgatory's unstaffed airport lounge, trade embarrassed glances?

Not my department. This is just a travelogue of sorts from your man (still; for reasons I can't explain) in Chicago, and that's the moment my Lollapalooza began. The moment I started my weekend, anyways. Not just because the announcers seemed so genuinely delighted. Circuses are mentioned during home games. But, didn't you always imagine our grunge overlords would root, root, root, wistfully, in their way, for the Cubs?

Kerry Woods spoke in class today.

The Fratellis
MySpace Stage
11:49 AM 8/3/07


... you're fucking kidding, right?

Ghostland Observatory
AT&T Stage
12:35 PM


I wanted to see the Fratellis, I did, but – doesn't one start a band, or, the higher craft, start writing about bands to avoid waking up before noon? We're becoming a nation of farmers, and I shan't encourage.

Still and all, there was a job to do, Viva Voce were to play uncomfortably soon, and, lo these many months, I'd somehow managed to entirely avoid Grant Park. Or Millennium Park. Same thing? That big park there, downtown, near the Sears Tower—can't miss it.

Son Volt
Adidas Stage
2:15 PM


Downtown Chicago has green space as Kansas has green space. Uninterrupted miles of parkland. Props to city planners, I guess, but …

Yes, I'm attending a concert. For free. Dehydration largely self-inflicted. Sun damage easily avoided. This was not a death march. You don't feel sympathy. I know these things.

…the hour I spent finding the correct park and correct line and correct information was the hardest thing anyone has ever done ever.

Viva Voce
Citi Stage
2:45 PM


Too early, too hot and entirely too outdoors for rock'n'roll, but Viva Voce—in ways even they couldn't have dreamt a decade past—were born for the big stage. Equal numbers of shirtless proto-fratboys, overfed Trixies of unfortunate tube-tops and swooning hipsters stare entranced as Portland's favorite couple unfurl a typically masterful set. The Robinsons can't enjoy White Stripes comparisons (though, considering, why the red & black outfits?) and their indie arena rock and unaffected interplay are worlds apart, but, Christ, such widescreen majesty shouldn't be available to a duo. They trade instruments and vocals with a measured grace, and their cozy, confident, low-fi familiarity with a rather different audience than they must be used to nicely contrasts the arena-shaking dynamics. It's mid-way through their tour—Kevin sports a color-coordinated sunburn—they were on stage in Minneapolis a few nights back as news of the bridge accident spread through the crowd. I think I'd trust Viva Voce to see me through most tragedies.

Jack's Mannequin
AT&T Stage
3:18 PM


I would've rather seen The Polyphonic Spree, but, from what I could tell, that stage was across the lake. And we've some idea what The Polyphonic Spree is like already, right? Everything good (choreographed unity, infectious joy) and bad (shapeless fashions, possible castration) about cults? But I knew absolutely nothing about Jack's Mannequin. As it happens, they're crap—lobotomized modern rock as presided over by a preening douche who thought Ben Folds Five too difficult. The vocal similarities were remarkable, though, and over the next hour I'd sometimes forget who was on stage...just until they fucked up the piano solos.

I didn't need to spend an hour there, of course, but Jack's Mannequin was the only band one could hear from the press area. A small, shambling collection of tents had been erected for radio dj's vainly waiting for bands to approach, critics frittering away at their laptops (some of whom never seemed to leave the area all show, perhaps live-blogging the press tent), and, every so often, a sniffling gal staggering the walk of shame from the Port-A-Potties—that last the only clue this wasn't a poorly-staged convention for HR managers.

It's a business, I understand that. Efficiency's prized, easily-scanned consumer reportage the coin of our realm, but I'd never really observed successful music writers of this type—bright-eyed, over-eager tyros resplendent in a sort of golf couture. Why ever did they choose this line of work? Were MBAs harder to achieve?

The area was dominated by a Spin enclave set up, I think, for performers post-interview—a rack of comped jeans were solely for artists, it was made very clear, but the Southern Comfort booth made no distinctions. Also, I was about the only one to make use. I'm not, obviously, a good music critic. I mean, this has always been more of a whimsy and the constraints involved with deadlines, word counts, and editorial directives (they always want you to talk about the music) precluded more than idle thoughts of career progression, but I had assumed I was simply a poorer, in every way, version of whomever filtered our culture.

Not so. Different breeds. I was, for instance, the only writer to carry a pen, and, above laptop screens, eyebrows raised whenever I scribbled notes. The only press that seemed at all to understand was a gracefully-aging photographer that asked to borrow the pen. She admired the grip and heft, said she had one similar at home, and I'm ninety percent sure that was Cynthia PlasterCaster.

A good music critic would've asked, but leave me my delusions.

Electric Six
Playstation Stage
4:12 PM


The enormity of the venue was impressive enough, but I've absolutely no conception of how the engineers could so precisely focus sound. One could walk for wide swaths through what seemed to be the weirdly-crowded concession area of a city-sized amusement park (assuming, instead of rides, they'd feature environmentalism kiosks; a dreary amusement park) and, within two steps, a rock concert would appear. Turning a corner, the singalong punk of Answer Me! suddenly blaring, it's hard not to be swept along. For all the contextual lunacy of politicized anthems shouted to the entertainment of monied suburbanites—dudes in the crowd, don't thrust Rock & Recycle placards as emblems of discontent and shouldn't those be hand-made anyways?—even warmed-over rebellion effects when unexpected. There's a point to festivals that way, I guess. The acts one wants to see inevitably disappoint, but there's a strange charge of the new. Sometimes, blindly reaching into a Whiman's Sampler only to get the nougat, you realize, this one specific moment, nougat—though sucky and never again to be chosen – sorta hits the spot.

Electric Six, who'd always seemed so pointless in nightclubs, were as unto gods this setting. Everything trite and kitchy around 40 people proved transcendent to 400, and their sloppy grooves set loose the addled frathouse rug-cuts perfectly. From the first beat of "Dance Epidemic", a funsized trader-manqué in orange Gap tee threw himself to a wild, twisting, depressingly-agile boogie without cell phone ever leaving his ear. A dowdy post-grad, plucked to join the band on stage, surged through epileptic twists. Given sufficient amps, I do believe downtown Chicago would've transformed itself to the parade scene from Ferris Bueller.

Much of the band's sway may have depended upon their wardrobe—anyone who could perform in vintage suits this heat deserves our allegiance. Just leaning against dumpsters in threadbare polyester for ten minutes, I looked like I'd been dumped in a lake of saline solution.

Seriously? August? You want people to dance in August?

I'd hoped there would be another press area near the back end of the park, and, striding past the gate, security guard loathe to even sniff me, I somehow found myself in heaven's own beer garden - trees, benches, endless drinks, a handful of men that looked like label reps and the sort of women label reps would buy. I spent twenty minutes strolling around the shade, swinging my arms, giddily, not another soul within spitting distance. Occasionally, testing, I'd spit.

This was the artists' lounge. In a better world, I would've stayed backstage for the rest of the day; all weekend, perhaps; I'd happily have signed a lease. Backstage, though, one couldn't see the performance. From the stage itself, perhaps, but I wasn't allowed. I wasn't supposed to be allowed within the artist's lounge at all, I was told, trying to climb the ramp, but the security guard didn't throw me out. I'd like to think she was too busy, but the sweatiness really can't be overstated.

M.I.A. had just began, and, much as her distinct ragga thump enlivened our cocktail party, wasn't seeing her sort of the point? The audience seemed enthralled, engaged, she could lead them to battle. What was she doing? What was she wearing? As one, the hordes pumped fists, and there were…so…many…hordes.

Heat prostration kills, yeah? Staying here could mean survival. Would it be that bad just to listen to the rest of the artists? Who else was playing this stage tonight?

Huh. Ben Harper.

Wasn't quite as warm as I'd remembered outside the gate, and M.I.A. moved the crowds just enough for me to dart through the off-beats and claim a ten inch space of hill for my own. She wore a dayglo top of clashing patterns and silver lame hot pants. She brandished throat-spray and said Jack While had shipped that from Los Angeles this morning. She captivated attention so completely that nobody else seemed to wonder what the fuck that meant. Stagecraft does that. M.I.A. needs to be seen to be understood. A back-up dancer, though that seems the wrong term, shook delirious and separate from everything alongside her and still thoroughly appropriate—Bez born distaff shaman.

More than anything, M.I.A. enjoyed herself. Vividly. Endlessly shouting Lollapalooza—do that for a moment; fun, yeah?—and exclaiming love for Chicago, she climbed up the scaffolding to sing the last number as the DJ, sheepish as you'd imagine, asked for folks to hold up lighters and cell phones. A couple of people did, you could see the sun glinting off their faceplates, but some things do work better in nightclubs.

The Rapture
Playstation Stage
6:12 PM


I was wrong. Festivals should always begin weekday mornings. And end shortly after. The crowds had been steadily increasing, but I had no idea. Trying to see The Rapture through the madding throngs, I first experienced that moment of terror when, padding out too far, one can no longer see the shoreline. It wasn't that I was in the middle of the crowd…it was all crowd. So many people had suddenly emerged that one could only tell the middle from an aerial view.

City buses had been set up to provide air-conditioning (the drivers, every one of them black and middle-aged, alternated between bemused and seething) though, by this point, the temperature had dropped enough they were empty. Wonderfully so. One was even set up near The Rapture video screen, and, while the driver scanned the crowd for whomever had earlier beaned him with a Frisbee, I happily enjoyed the show. A good one—the boys punctuating their indie disco with manic yelps, dancing like loons, stirring the sweaty cauldron of manflesh into a teeming frenzy. Easily the best show I've seen on a bus.


Satellite Party
AT&T Stage
7:15 PM


If Porno For Pyros sounded like a Jane's Addiction cover band, Satellite Party…well, sounds like a stoned Jane's cover band. The music's not the point, I know—they're very well named—but the new tunes consisted of funk grooves seemingly composed upon the spot and even the third-wave go-go dancers couldn't rhythmically pose to run-throughs of the hits. Performance hasn't been Perry Farrell's job for a while now. He built this city we call Lollapalooza, shifting down a touring festival to alterna Brigadoon as demand waned, and deserves, I suppose, the adoration of his citizenry. I'm just not sure why folks moved here.

I was also, truth be told, sorta cranky after realizing that I hadn't eaten the last good while, and, until my friend arrived to trade cash for wristband, I couldn't afford to. Alcohol wasn't a problem. A bartender I'd befriended from the artists' lounge (after dipping arms elbow-high into ice every five seconds to serve the worst people in the world quickly-abandoned beers, she would've agreed to anything that didn't involve cold) replaced the contents of a Vitamin Water container with vodka. Still, y'know. Bit peckish. And the lone sustenance available from the press tent were bars of Jocalat—'harmonizing with fruits and nuts, it is a healthy indulgence you can feel good about eating'. Many bars of Jocalat. Enough to pave over the entire damned park. I've no doubt they could've been employed for the purpose. They tasted like the tears of a vegan eight-year-old, and the consistency resembled normal brownies past digestion.

Spitting out a third flavor, I noticed someone walking from the bathroom area with an ice cream sandwich. A popsicle followed. And a Drumstick. NPR spun a tale about somebody sponsored to pass out free frozen treats at music festivals. I never quite believed but, this night, Ice Cream Man saved my life. Matt Allen. A hero. In an age that dearly needs one. He's visiting Musicfest next month. Stop him when he's passing by.

Emboldened, blood-sugar/blood-fat rising, I caught the end of Satellite Party—a few thousand weekend decadents waving their arms aloft to a shambling rendition of "We'll Make Great Pets"; Spring Break Cancun minus breeze, drugs, or purpose beyond our host's construction.

Perry Farrell made a semi-autobiographical film fifteen years ago that ended with him screaming to police officers that once his fanbase matures, he'll be elected mayor of Los Angeles. At the time, this seemed far-fetched.

He sounds good. From the pictures dotting the media kit, he looks good. Jumbotron shows him to be fit as ever. And, speaking to the crowd, huckster sleaze congealing, that peculiar blend of arrogance and wat that forms rock star charisma does its damage. Wonder if he'll bring the dancers along on stump speeches. I mean, you'd figure.

"Y'all staying here all weekend long?"

YESSSS!!!!

"Because, it'd be stupid not to. Are you stupid?"

NOOOO!!!!

We will make great pets.

LCD Soundsystem
MySpace Stage
7:38 PM


Not every act looks worse from backstage. Much as an appreciation of M.I.A. sorta depends upon watching our heroine climb lighting rigs, LCD Soundsystem really doesn't lose much from the rear. If anything, James Murphy's knob-twirler-on-sherm frenzy was far less interesting to watch than the drummer—hypnotic in his unwavering precision. It's not just that he was better than a drum machine; I think Murphy built him.

For all the band's metronomic charge, it was sorta relaxing, percussion acting as the world's largest grandfather clock, but an unobstructed vantage point atop the deserted hillside helped tremendously. I understand that undertakings of this scale couldn't be accomplished without scads of people, I guess I'm not sure why the scads of people agree to fund. I mean, this was dance music. But one couldn't dance. There's nothing sadder than unmoving glow-sticks.

Aside from scattered pockets of E'd-up zombies—also, should we count semi-autistic elbow twirlings, the only ones to dance—I sincerely doubted most on-lookers were on drugs. And, even, should they wish, there were no lit bathrooms. It would've taken an hour to buy a drink, and a few hundred meatheads (ok, true, people were probably on 'roids) would jostle it from your hands before you could approach. Even backstage, the bar had closed—why security let me through, probably, and, more to the point, why no one was there. Two girls were allowed upon the back of the stage—preserving a memory of themselves trashed upon darkened sound equipment—before scampering away. Cute, in retrospect, but my neighbors upon the hill seemed irritated. The girls had broken the mood. Spontaneity distracted our attention.

In my imaginings of this night, I suppose, LCD Soundsystem would unfurl the best ever version of "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" before a few hundred stylish fans and, immediately afterwards, we'd turn around to watch the robots rock. Perhaps James would give me a line. And we'd stroll hand-in-hand toward their set.

Didn't quite happen. Ridiculous as the crowds were, folks were drawn to competing stages. A good-sized contingent nodded their heads to Femi Kuti's Afrobeat floorshow—think a difficultly-languaged version of James Brown's 70's revues if Apollo audiences believed they might have to write a paper afterwards—and Mickey Avalaon mst have had his own legions. At 8:30, as the LCD keyboardist plucked that eerily-effective melody from Close Encounters, the entirety of the park dispersed towards either Ben Harper or Daft Punk—troubled, you'd think, brows furrowed, exclaiming 'but I love them both!'—and the crowds swarmed to a point where one had to squint to glimpse the Jumbotron. And, eventually, more people pressed for a look at those that could glimpse the Jumbotron. To give up would be...stupid?

Across the street, the actual street, the one separating Lollapalooza from America, a handful of moustaches leaned against the railing. Sweating through gray tees, surrounded by parks, one would assume they'd just played ball and were waiting for someone to pick them up, but they didn't notice traffic. Or drunken girls stumbling away from the barricades they maintained fixed stares weirdly similar to the crowd inside but without visual cues, each one concentrating upon a different point just above where the speakers should have been. Staring at nothing. Staring at the music.

href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/60914959@N00/1118539540/" class="tt-flickr">Jay Fear, loathing, heat prostration at Lollapalooza Day Two (read Day One here)


I'm From Barcelona
Bud Light Stage
1:28 PM 8/4/07




Tapes 'n Tapes
MySpace Stage
2:15 PM


… see, the thing is …

Motion City Sountrack
MySpace Stage
4:12 PM


… this isn't really my fault. Let's back up.

Polyphonic Spree
Hard Rock Hotel
12:28 AM


Blender and CKIN2U—a new fragrance from Calvin Klein though I'll forever question why anyone would wish to associate a cologne with music festivals; Lollapalooza smells like an overstuffed frathouse set to boil—had set up their own lounge on the second floor of the Hard Rock Hotel downtown. There was talk of bands…okay, there was talk of an open bar, but my credentials were a little spotty. I was on some list to drop by their daytime press area with the possibility of, perhaps, finagling an invite to afterhours, but never had the chance.

I'd spent the evening drinking warm vodka (if you drew a bath of vodka, it would be that temperature), and wasn't at my best—missing the correct elevator button and pouring myself down the stairs to find a hipster A/V sort shouting toward headset as security waited impatiently for instructions. Maintaining vigilance against interlopers off the teensy list was of the utmost importance, our host kept repeating "There's going to be celebrities!" as the be-suited man-mountain listed potential trouble-zones. Plus, I ventured, the stairways are unlocked; anyone could just wander down. "Exactly!" he pounded his fist. "That's the problem we had last year!" After helping strategize the security barricade, I wandered away to help set up the bar.

A few blessedly-chilled cocktails helped quell the (still unstamped) hand-shaking, and, gingerly, I rejoined the hundred or so celebrants swaggering about the impromptu lounge to seek out the famous. Vainly. Well-tailored tastemakers, pharmaceutically-relaxed whippets trailing outré fashions, cosmically-air-brushed beauties—a salon had been erected in the hallway to retouch coifs and face-paint sullied by the heat. It all seemed perfectly appropriate, and, if everyone looks like a rock star, than nobody does. Even the photographers milling about seemed to take shots at random.

The main room, ringed by half a dozen small bars and lightly crowded by the glad-handing and self-satisfied (there was a conventioneers' atmosphere, still) would seem to be the absolute worst venue imaginable for any act. What to play the men who've heard everything?

Yesterday, I'd mentioned that I didn't quite see the point of watching The Polyphonic Spree—that, at least, I felt I knew the band. That their cultish exploits seemed, if anything, anti-rock. Exploding upon the stage in identical black martial costumes, Addicted To Love styled back-up dancers arrythmically gyrating behind, ticker-tape cannons exploding upon the crowd, these pop ninjas bent on forcible conversion may have been anti-rock, but they took the fight to rock's door. Not that The Spree's tunes, even this smallish cadre, abandoned lock-step harmonies or the distinctly off-kilter effervescence, but the aggressive cheer—less proffering grace through melodies than demanding submission to their over-arching ebullience—implied a darker, far more intriguing belief system.

Snow Patrol
Bud Light Stage
7:02 PM


The nature of festivals to miss things. Apparently, Mickey Avalon later joined the Spree. Apparently, Eddie Vedder climbed on Ben Harper's stage for "Masters Of War." Apparently, tragically, I'd missed the frontman of My Morning Jacket perform a tear-wrenching rendition of "The Rainbow Connection" at the Kidzapalooza stage. Wonderful, they said, though we needn't tempt the weather gods.

Better than unrelenting sunshine, today's drizzle didn't exactly refresh, more like a coagulated humidity, and the Snow Patrol crowds noticed not at all. THIS was the festival experience. Untold hordes mashed into one another, popped collars wilting, aching to feel the music, uniting to an unashamed love as the hits rained down, with no one more chuffed than the band themselves—scraggly Brit boys-of-a-certain-age, unready to believe their peculiarly-universal muse delivered them from the downmarket indie circuit through TV-ready ballads that … affected, thoroughly.

However much the essential meaninglessness of the tunes allowed Grey's Anatomy et al to instill sentiment, however that sentiment informed emotional response—it worked, nonetheless. What more would we want? Audience and artist alike buoyed by a shared love of music made to be loved? They were professional, well-practiced, one can't imagine they'd have changed a note from their Scottish dive sets, but the largeness of feeling rose to fit the setting.

One never knows just much the Yeah Yeah Yeahs acknowledges the size of their stage. Befuddled looky-loos and longtime worshippers trailing purple & pink-haired offspring alike stared entranced as Karen O, outfitted in cape and circus fishnets, did Karen O things – rockette kicks morphing to over-the-top aerobics routine. If Snow Patrol seemed giddily aroused that their water-colour creations had won over Middle America, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Godhead achieved idiosyncratic success through pure will.
.
That last was reported by intern Anna—the correspondent's correspondent—midst repeated mutterings about just how delighted she was to see Patti Smith instead of Spoon. Good soldier.

Spoon
8:10 PM 8/4/07
MySpace Stage



britt.jpg 01Britt Daniel


JayJay Horton

"It's, just, his voice, you know? The way he sounds? The way you picture him being? I mean, the music's peppy—NOOO, that's stupid. It's catchy? Sort of? But, his voice just sounds like…like, he smokes?"

This is Liz. From Michigan? Down for the festival? And she knew me from somewhere?

Passingly-indie co-eds gone wild are among the few dependable perks of music criticism, and, ordinarily, breasts pinning me against the sound tent, I'd be flattered. Sprung, even, if not for the drizzle. And her large, wary handler. And my intern, of course, dutifully observing Patti half a mile away. First looking toward the Jumbotron, a sad recognition dawned. It wasn't me that Liz knew.

"The way he sings, y'know? It's just…mmmph. I bet he smokes a LOT of cigarettes. He's hoarse. And horse-faced! Noooo. Kinda? He's just experienced, y'know? Older?"

Britt Daniel and I wore the same top. Precisely. And hair. And pallor. She dry-humped (which, as rain spat, couldn't be the right term) me against the chain-link only because I'd unconsciously dressed like a rock star. And, somehow, not in the good way.

"But he's a little nerdy, too? Like, this guy you'd never have talked to in school, but he's old, now, and sitting at the bar and he has smokes? You just feel that he know things?"

Women's Studies theses could be fashioned from Britt Daniels' appeal. As Liz's brother/husband/sponsor broke apart our coupling, I asked what he thought of Spoon. Good. Liked their albums—what little he'd heard. Seemed the wrong venue, though. More the type of band to hear at a club.

This seemed true, obvious, but why? Our little stretch of concourse wasn't so different from a good, cozy (if football-field-sized) beer garden back of any northwestern indie hall. Maybe Britt hadn't, say, Karen O's theatrical dementia, but he hardly shrunk from the stage. The music, even absent Snow Patrol's emotive touchstones or the arena tremblers of Muse, deserved God's own sound system. Less'n Britt was actually playing your living room, how better to appreciate the measured sincerity, lyrical subtleties, shruggably-widescreen charisma? Despite the crowds and the industrial constraints, there was no separation between music made and enjoyed; no artifice beyond what was necessary to deliver the sounds and images and uncut Spoon to a palpably-effected fanbase. Wrong venue how?

Ever after the myth of Woodstock, we helplessly judge the featured performers upon their unifying anthems and the glistening potential for you-were-there memories; music far less important than generational bonding or the chance to see history unfold. This weekend, tens of thousands attended baseball games to drink with friends—afterwards, a good number would've been unable to remember more than a few moments from the action or which team won or, even, why that would seem important.

As the set progressed, folks stopped walking through. The other stages may as well have been different planets. Nobody spoke. Nobody danced. The furthest thing from a shared experience. A few thousand couples (girls trembling, men furrowing their brows) listened to the music. And, my new friend was right. It didn't seem like Woodstock at all.

Muse
AT&T Stage
9:11 PM


Patti Smith, should you care, didn't appreciate the ginormous Adidas sign overhead her performance. Her audience—wizened boomers, shockingly, unwilling to remove sunglasses well-past sundown; cataract surgery?—didn't appreciate the new stuff (meaning, songs recorded in the past twenty years). And, upon her faerie isle, we'll assume Tori Amos felt a sudden sadness upon Patti's utterly humorless Smells Like Teen Spirit recital. From intern Anna's report, nothing—the anti-corporate rants, workmanlike covers, yet-powerful rendition of 'Horses', Patti's desiccated soccer mom appearance, my inherent assholishness—came as much of a surprise, but a touch of reverence predominated, still. Easy to make fun afterwards, nobody quite enjoyed themselves, but those assembled still glimpsed a touch of The Presence. Exist long enough as female incarnation of punk, one gets used to the pilgrimages.

Interpol, avatars of cool, convey something different—a dry, truculent, perfectly-envisioned set of choreographed posturing. It's their act, yes—even back when crowding Brooklyn lofts. And the crowds went wild. They're rock stars. And, much as Yeah Yeah Yeahs cavort a lightly-hysterical rebellion, as Snow Patrol distill melodrama towards generational (and disposably cathartic) singalong, Interpol don't inspire or evoke so much as, for want of a better word, entertain. In the frenzied crowd, one could argue (as Snow Patrol did; much, you'd assume, to Interpol's chagrin) they were the best band in America. The shiniest, anyways. Owning the festival without ever sacrificing the prettified distance that made their bones. Too much attention's paid to the bands that painstakingly continue the fantasy of working-class fervor as their fortunes rise—Interpol maintains the façade of iconic disapproval upon a stage of which even they couldn't have dreamt…isn't that more impressive?

Muse, a few years ago, decided they'd like to headline festivals. Large festivals. For billions. Perhaps simulcast upon the moon. They sound big. Every song sounds precisely-engineered to soar through ecstatic crowds, every action designed for the jumbotron, masterful lightshow somehow organic to the music. Bit dull, yeah?

Links:
Lollapalooza
Jay Horton at Lollapalooza, Part Two: "Why Are There So Many Songs About Rainbows?"

M.I.A. photo by Flickr user Caleb Lawson.
 
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