words by Zach Pollack, photos by Grant MacAllister
a member of Cee-Lo's band
Day two of Lollapalooza 2011 began with a slight drizzle over Grant Park, but it didn't deter the determined early festival-goers from moving about the grounds. After a long Friday, I began Saturday over at the Sony Stage with an extremely tight set from Phantogram. What I assumed was a simple setup from listening to their albums, was actually a complex live rig which kept the trio extremely busy. How many times have you seen an electronic-tinged band who just cue samples all set? Phantogram are not that.
Up next on my schedule were Chicago hometown act Maps & Atlases (which unfortunately meant I missed Friendly Fires). Maps & Atlases drew a very large crowd to the Google+ Stage, which has my favorite area of the whole fest. There's no other stage opposing it, it's a bit smaller than most, and massive trees block out much of the blistering sun. What's not to like?
I then attempted to head back towards Music Unlimited for Fitz and The Tantrums, but that didn't seem to be in the cards due to some unexpected foot traffic. Instead I ate and then headed to the oposite side of the grounds to catch the Black Lips at Playstation. The crowd was enormous for the garage-rockers who usually play to a quarter as many people. A few songs in they pulled out "Family Tree," the opening track to their great Mark Ronson-produced album Arabia Mountain. In typical Black Lips fashion, singer/guitarist Cole Alexander threw up on stage without missing as much as a note, and almost all over the Lollapalooza film crew!
From there things just got more and more massive. I caught Death From Above 1979 for the second time this week, and it was just as thrilling and brutal. Kicking things off with the Y.A.W.I.A.M. staple "Turn It Out," the massive beyond massive crowd went completely insane. Not needing to see the full set, I rushed across the complex to catch a bit of Big Audio Dynamite. The reunited group opened with "Medicine Show," and continued to awe the crowd with "A Party." From there I ran to Google+ to catch the tail end of The Drums.
I walked in just as they were speaking about the release of their forthcoming record Portamento (coming out in the US on Frenchkiss). They then played its single, "Money." The band has definitely matured since I last saw them and they sounded super full live. Just to make my legs die a little bit more, I rushed back over towards Sony and Music Unlimited to catch Local Natives. As mentioned, it was the largest crowd the band had ever played to. Opening with "Camera Talk," as per usual, their live sound even surpassed their great recordings. Towards the end of their set, across the way at Unlimited, things started to fall into place for Cee Lo's set.
His band of attractive studio musicians took the stage sans Green around 6:30PM, and jumped into a short intro track. Complete with matching Gwar-like kinky warrior outfits (strange choice), Cee Lo and his band played to a massive audience, many of whom were camped out to see Eminem on the same stage. I left early, before the booing...
"The soul singer scored a huge crowd, but holding its attention seemed to be another matter. Dressed in shoulder pads topped with huge spikes and a chunky neck chain, Cee-Lo channeled his inner-dungeon master/Billy Idol; he even played an R&B-flavored cover of the 80s star's "Flesh for Fantasy." But the set was anything but smooth: Between tunes, which included Cee-Lo's own "Satisfied," "Bright Lights Bigger City," and Gnarls Barkley's smash "Crazy," he turned the spotlight to his DJ, who inexplicably spun Lenny Kravitz, Nirvana and Depeche Mode - a move that inspired boos from the crowd. "Don't you dare let this wonderful outfit go to waste," he said, palpably annoyed. But the irritation may have worked in his favor (and sent a subliminal message to his fans): On his closer, the Motown-inflected kiss-off "Fuck You," his voice sounded richer than it had all night. " [Rolling Stone]By then I was over at Google+ for Lykke Li.
Li and her amazingly talented band were a perfect fit for the stage, and drew as many people as would fit in the area. They started things off with the haunting Wounded Rhymes track "Jerome," and continued in that fashion with "I Follow Rivers", "Sadness Is A Blessing" and other songs as My Morning Jacket started to set up for their headlining set over at Bud Light.
Jim James and Co. kicked off a two hour long set at 8PM. It spanned their entire catalog with crowd favorites like "Off the Record," "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream," "One Big Holiday," and much more. Songs were extended with jam sections, brass solos, etc. Their stage setup was absolutely massive, as was the lighting. That said, I snuck away back to the smaller Google+ to check out some of Beirut who was closing out that stage.
Zach Condon and band played mostly older songs in the more intimate setting, and though tight, I was craving some more My Morning Jacket and so headed back to finish off the night with Jim James.
Maps & Atlases
Death From Above 1979
My Morning Jacket