With weather reports predicting high temperatures of up to 95 degrees, day two of Lollapalooza wasn’t exactly going to be a walk in the park, either. Well, in some respects it was, but you get the idea. By high noon, mile-long lines had already gathered at every beverage stand, and hundreds of bikini-clad girls flashed around their fresh and fashionable sunburns. Neither shade nor sunscreen made a difference — even the Ice Cream Man couldn’t save the day! Instead, while the heat continued to join the thousands of Lollagoers, a mighty wind picked up the slack, cooling things down and making the second day, you know, tolerable.
Given that it was a Saturday, patrons of all ages knocked at the gates very, very early, and they spread out, too. Most of the bands “fortunate” to be given an early spot — namely Band of Skulls, Yuto Miyazawa, and Frances England — were blessed with a sizable audience, and one primed to party (doesn’t get better than that, right?). As a result, once the larger sets kicked in, things were heating up on a whole other level.
Ezra Furman & The Harpoons
Playstation: 11:45-12:30 p.m.
Don’t worry everyone! The rain is gone! Instead you get blistering heat and mud fields! Enjoy!
But, luckily, the Playstation Stage was up to its old tricks, being all pavement-ed and full of indie wonder. This time Ezra Furman and the Harpoons commanded the stage and the attention of anyone with patience within earshot. As I neared the stage, the first noticeable bits of noise were Furman’s heavily Frank Black influenced yelps and barks. Next came the band’s excellent Pavement meets 60s pop rock backing. But Furman’s sublimely awkward and engaging songwriting is the trademark of the group, to be sure. Whether it’s the snappy punk of “The Government Broke My Heart” (dedicated to Buddy Holly and Patti Smith) or the amazingly disenchanted/inspired “Worm in the Apple” (“While all the world makes money so stoically, I will be building my home out of poetry”), Furman’s yellow bath-robe’d presence at center stage was a sight to be seen.
Furman rocked around the mic stand with a sort of manic nervousness, pulling his sunglasses on and off, fiddling with the harmonica attached to his neck. The best song of the set was easily the charmingly sad “Halloween Snow”. Bassist Job Mukkada introduced the narrative of the song succinctly: it’s a song about Furman’s prior engagement, and how he and she had accidentally boarded a plane to Zaire instead of going to Japan, and the awkward tension that resided between the two. “Now he has to relive it every night,” Mukkada monotoned. “It’s not painful at all…That was sarcastic,” Furman added.
Before ending their set, Mukkada had to go for one of the most cliché festival shoutouts: “You should go check out our friends, Delta Spirit,” he smirked. “Back to back awesomeness!”
“Arsonists?” Furman asked, perfectly embodying his playful, wordy sense of humor. Next, the group dove into a rambling rendition of “Take Off Your Sunglasses” as Chicago’s own Ronnie Woo-Woo (don’t ask) wandered to the front of the crowd in full uniform, shaking a thumbs up Furman’s way. Surrrreal. -A.K.
Budweiser: 12:30-1:30 p.m.
With the sun finally shining, San Diego’s Delta Spirit kicked off Lollapalooza day two with a set that would make the Dylan’s and the Wait’s of the world proud. It was honest and raw, captivating and tantalizing, mixing the spirit of folk with a sound that could best be described as Bob Dylan on LCD playing a New Orleans jazz club. Among the songs included in this blues rock wet dream were favorites from 2008’s Ode to Sunshine, including “Trash Can” and “Strange Vine”, as well as a rather subdued but equally gripping new track which the band declared would be on its forthcoming album, due out next year. In the end, those gathered around the Budweiser stage cheered these Austin rockers with as much enthusiasm as any band would receive that day, perhaps as a result of the fact they had just seen a band take that “new great leap.” – A.Y.
Chicago 2016: 12:45-1:30 p.m.
Punching in at the Chicago 2016 stage, St. Louis sleaze rockers Living Things picked up where Depeche Mode left off the night before. With a bang in their musical revolvers, the quirky and confident quartet went to work on tearing down the house. Bassist Eve Berlin cranked up that colossal Gibson Thunderbird of his and chucked each note into the heart of every pale-faced spectator in sight. Singer Lillian Berlin channeled the blood and grit of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, poised with the style and debonair of The New York Dolls’ own David Johansen, even with a set of curled lips and a penchant for the trashy balls out look. Within the first three numbers, Living Things captured their audience in a frenzy of new wave guitar fills over complex disco beats and guitar progressions, played in part by guitarist Cory Becker. During the band’s incendiary send-up “Oxygen”, singer Berlin toasted the city of Chicago with a rousing speech regarding the return of the American troops back home, the election of Barack Obama, and the reaffirmation of the American Dream. Bearing as no stranger to political controversy, Berlin’s words were met with cheers as the band concluded their disco-rock sleaze fest with chants of “Hey everybody, let’s keep the peace!” All in all, it was definitely not a bad way for disco lovers and rockers to meet in the circle on such a sunny day for the City By The Lake. -J.Z.
Perry’s: 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Chicago’s own Kaskade (nee Ryan Raddon) took the Perry’s stage next, with a beat-hungry crowd awaiting his arrival. After introducing a few short stabs of throbbing techno, two near-identical dancers in knee-socks, half-shirts and thongs pranced onstage, doing (what seemed to be) completely improvised and skanky dance moves. Let me tell you, thong-sweat is not a sight to be seen anywhere, especially not at a family event like Lollapalooza apparently is. And I say this, because I then noticed a woman dance into the middle of the crowd with a baby on her arm. The baby did have giant pink earmuffs stuck on it’s head (sorry baby, I couldn’t see whether you were a boy or a girl, so you will remain an it for this story), but still, it’s a little sad to see that happen. The dancers later brought out giant Chicago flags on poles, to which I heard this brilliant quip: “I bet they’re not used to poles without them being firmly planted in a strip club.” Ouch. -A.K.
BMI: 1:45-2:30 p.m.
After the sun soaked outing with the Living Things, a little shade by the BMI stage provided temporary relief from the brutal hot weather. None other than Brooklyn-based folk rocker Langhorne Slim treated the shady faithful to a pizazz of his own blend of country rock and down home blues. Slim at times sounded very reminiscent of Live singer Ed Kowalczyk in regards to his ability to carry tunes and stretch out high passages at once. This provided the necessary nucleus for the man’s loving output of soul and showmanship. Within the two sides of the musical coin, Slim and his band, the War Eagles, put on one helluva hoedown for the BMI faithful, complete with twanged up acoustic rockabilly, blues tinged vocals that made the leaves shimmer and his genuine tip of his porkpie hat hiding his sly smile. Images of roasted barbecue and spits of messy meats grazed the thin air as Slim and the band played on for those enjoyable 45 minutes. For the 29-year-old songwriter, he’s well on his way to capturing elegant moods with ease, especially since his material should be considered for future film projects. All in due time, as timing’s everything, but from the looks of today’s performance, Slim should have no problem in that field. -J.Z.
Budweiser: 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Cardiff, Wales most desired indie-export, Los Campesinos!, cracked open the shipping crates with one hell of a raucous punk show. Rattling off with the breezy titled, bratty anthem “This Is How You Spell “HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics”, the seven-piece power bomb spared no second on-stage, seguing into another Hold On Now, Youngster… favorite, “Death to Los Campesinos!”. Frontman and resident madman Gareth Campesino! strut around the stage wearing cut-off jeans shorts and a trendy Abe Vigoda shirt. His demeanor never changed once, which was that of a bratty, loud-mouthed rebel — but the type that the teacher always knows is right. When he wasn’t spouting out his stream-of-consciousness-styled lyrics, he played around with the audience, at one time fiddling about with his HD FlipCam.
It’s not like he was alone, either. His surrounding Campesinos! took advantage of the prized set time, too, acting like a bunch of rowdy teenagers in a pricey music store. Harriet tangoed with the violin, Aleks meddled with the keys, while Tom and Neil scratched away at their guitars. When Ellen wasn’t bouncing back and forth with Gareth, she threw a few glances at lanky drummer Ollie, who appeared focused yet concerned, as if he’d skip a beat. These elements all made up one attractive indie-unit, bred with honesty and endearing with modesty.
They know how to duke it out like it’s an underground punk show, too. Past singles “My Year in Lists” and “The International Tweexcore Underground” were tight, sure, but also sloppy in that each member looked primed to let it all fall apart. If that weren’t enough to sell them to the spiky-haired crowd, then perhaps Gareth’s descent into the awaiting and frantic crowd — complete with a never-ending, twisting microphone chord — during “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” should. As if they were getting itchy feet too, Ollie and Tom surfed the crowd following a note-for-note cut of “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks”. Indie-punk at its finest and hands down one of the highlights of the weekend thus far. -M.R.
Band of Horses
Kidz: 4:00-4:30 p.m.
Once everyone in the park received a surprise text via Lolla-Alert that Band of Horses would be gracing the Kidzapalooza pavilion, a good crowd flocked that way. Despite the band’s suitable evening slot on Sunday, fans still felt the need to get their folk-fix, walling in the forested area. Yet no matter how much they pushed and shoved, they wouldn’t come close to the front of the stage. No, that area was reserved for the kids, which one would think makes sense. From behind a pair of posh sunglasses, vocalist Ben Bridwell spooked the surrounding tikes with stories of ghosts and haunted houses during Cease to Begin hit, “Is There a Ghost”. They only played for maybe 15 minutes, but in that time, they somehow squeezed out a special song set to appear on a forthcoming episode of Yo Gabba Gabba — the title was lost on even us. Cute, but those who made it out would have to trek back and fight their way into the Arctic Monkeys. – M.R.
Animal Collective (DJ Set)
Perry’s: 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Truth be told, I endured the rest of the Perry’s silliness because I was extremely curious about what an Animal Collective DJ Set would be. As Kaskade’s set came to a close, Avey Tare and Geologist (two-thirds of AC(where was Panda Bear?!)) lingered at the back of the stage, waiting their turn to spin some wax. The setup took a little longer than expected, as a minute or two of silence seemed to frustrate the crowd. The non-techno dance fest that came later did more than frustrate; it completely drove them away. By their second or third spin, the crowd had thinned to about half the size it had been for Kaskade. And I can’t say I blame them. If the set had been performed in a crowded house party or something of the like, it would have been a lot more exciting; instead it seemed like a series of world musicians that they enjoyed and played in succession. Los Campesinos!’s sound bled over like crazy and the one dude hippie dancing in the front of the stage (probably a friend of the band’s) did nothing to help either. -A.K.
Budweiser: 4:30-5:30 p.m.
There was no Josh Homme guest appearance during the Arctic Monkeys’ 3 p.m. set at the Budweiser Stage. But that’s ok, because the gloomy and heavy sounds and styles of the Queens of the Stone Age frontman and producer of the Monkey’s newest studio album, Humbug, surely weren’t lost. Unfortunately, this fact didn’t necessarily prove to be a good thing, as the English outfit’s hour long set could best be described with words such as boring, contrived, and fake — QOTSA side-project, anyone? Sure, there were highlights, like when the band tackled old classics (“I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”, “Brainstorm”)… but those came few and far between. The set heard at Lollapalooza on Sunday consisted mostly of new material and consequently, at least if you put any stock in the countless numbers of festival goers who made an early exit, was one not worth remembering. – A.Y.
Coheed & Cambria
Chicago 2016: 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Three years ago, Coheed & Cambria slayed an early day set at 2006’s Lollapalooza — a tad too early. This was months before they’d unveil Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol.1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, the group’s third studio album, and because of this, they stuck to the back catalogue (which nowadays is probably a good thing). This weekend, however, the New Jersey rockers returned — to the same stage, nonetheless — with two new albums in tow and a couple of fresh faces behind the instruments. Working alongside vocalist, lead guitarist, and Cousin It-look alike Claudio Sanchez, bassist Michael Todd and drummer Chris Pennie kept up with ease.
After an ominous thud and some light instrumentals, Sanchez ripped into “No World For Tomorrow”, off of their last album, 2007’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow, which he stuck to, as he quickly followed up with, “Gravemakers & Gunslingers”. The latter found Sanchez nibbling at his guitar, while his fellow axeman Travis Stever kept things at pace. It didn’t take long before they started dusting off the old discography, as they trudged through past hits (and live staples) “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”, “Ten Speed of God’s Blood and Burial”, and of course, “A Favor House Atlantic”.
For the most part, it was a paint-by-numbers set list, but that’s never not a good thing with Coheed. Nobody ever tires of “Everything Evil”, which the band managed to play around in, and “Welcome Home” is still the perfect dose of Iron Maiden and Rush that does a body good. It’s not like they didn’t stray some. Towards the end, the fearsome four delivered an interesting reinterpretation of The Church’s classic hit “Under the Milkyway”, which had fans singing along and cheering away. Altogether, everything you’d expect from the Jersey beards…and a little more. -M.R.
Vitaminwater: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
The party heated up once more with the hip-busting power of Scotland’s own Glasvegas. Rhythm guitarist/singer James Allan’s stage presence set off a chain reaction within the Lolla faithful as the band ripped into their epic smash “Geraldine.” Joe Strummer comparisons aside, Allan’s stage demeanor drew heavy amounts of musical magnetism to not only his vocals, but his passionate delivery and crafty guitar work too. It also helped that the former Scottish footballer rocked out a severely awesome pair or RayBan sunglasses as well. Roughly halfway through the band’s set, Allan paused for a moment to speak with the Chicago faithful. “Anybody got any grass?” he quipped. “Thank you very fucking much!”
All in all, Glasvegas took their primary elements from the shoegaze movement, but there’s just something about the thumping of bassist Paul Donoghue’s bass that can’t be shaken off; those funky groove are just damn infectious! Combined with brother Rab Allen’s stellar lead guitar work, Glasvegas on the surface represented an archetypal 21st century shoegaze act that you could really pay attention to. In blunt words, the most cynical hipster alive can’t deny how awesome these guys performed.
Cutting through the fat, these Scots know just the right amount of rough heaviness that can stomp your jugular, your balls and your heart all at the same time. Their soundscapes brought to mind images of deserts and plains complete with musical passages of despair twinged with bitter hope. Proving to be a charismatic frontman. Allen’s sharp wit went unscathed from the Chicago faithful. At one point, Allen retorted, “So our drummer is looking for a guy with a big dick.” (in response to drummer Caroline McKay). Some brave soul responded to which Allen’s thick accent took the full reigns, “You’re from Texas? That doesn’t mean you’ve got a big dick…she’ll fuckin’ love ya!”
Laughter and good times aside, the band launched back into heavy rotation their shoegazing prowess. On tunes such as “It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry” and their epic finale of “Daddy’s Gone,” Glasvegas scored a direct hit in the heart of Grant Park and for these Scottish imports, that makes me smile from ear to ear. Give me a pint of Tennent’s on these guys already…by far one of the best acts to graze the festival this weekend. No explanation necessary. -J.Z.
Chicago 2016: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
With the fading and bittersweet farewell from Glasvegas, Chicago hometown heroes Rise Against blew out those barn doors from the get-go and stirred up the crowd. To put it bluntly: shit got real when these guys hit the stage. Guitarist/singer Tim McIlrath belted away on their opener Collapse and immediately mosh pits broke out like wildfire. It was apparent from the first note struck that Rise Against were onto something. Sure the hometown favorites have been rocking under the radar a shade under a decade, but this performance brought to light their true potential to be a really great band. They know how to blend the aesthetics of emo and hardcore without offending both genres. Much like their Chicago counterparts Alkaline Trio, Rise Against bring the attitude with the lighter emotional aspect to back it up. On tunes such as The Good Left Undone and The Audience Of One, the band showed off their true potential to one day become the biggest punk rock band in the world.
In all honesty, if Green Day werent already at the top of their game (well on their way to becoming the next U2) Chicago could put another notch in its musical bedpost for these guys to be the next big thing. The radar is still calling, but Rise Against have steadily been getting better and better the past few years. Tonights sweaty and passionate performance at Lolla sealed the deal for what will eventually become a severe force to be reckoned with in the next few years. With the lofty farewell and dedications to Chicago, the punkers ended their set with Give It All” and Ready To Fall, stirring the crowd on their feet and offering their personal admiration for the city of Chicago in song. No means avoiding a bad pun, the band rose against the grain and delivered a haymaker of a show that will certainly follow the bands history for years to come. – J.Z.
TV on the Radio
Budweiser: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
As the sun set behind the surrounding Chicago architecture, milking out the fleeting vanilla sky, Brooklyn’s critically-acclaimed quintet set the mood with “Love Dog”, one of the stronger tracks off of last year’s near-masterpiece, Dear Science. Frontman Tunde Adebimpe jogged around the stage, wearing his Sunday’s best, as he played to the audience like a jubilant reverend. The beats were thick, the musicianship was tight, and above all, they broke the boundaries of their recordings, but never strayed too far.
What didn’t work, however, was the dead noise between a few of the group’s tunes. Sure it was a low-key set, regardless of the sweltering crowd that clogged the north-stage area, but too many songs took far too long to accomplish. Whether it was guitarist David Andrew Sitek’s fascination with lo-tone feedback or Jaleel Bunton’s endless introductory drumbeats, the set just seemed to drag. However, when they threw in more punchy tunes like “Wolf Like Me” or “Dancing Choose”, the crowd responded well, and even those lounging on towels happened to stand up and dance for a bit. Call it timing, or just some tongue-in-cheek humor, but when “Staring at the Sun” closed the set, the shining star had already made its trek out west. Oh well, killer song still. -M.R.
Vitaminwater: 7:30-8:30 p.m.
After standing through Glasvegas’ set and hearing the first few choppy strains of Rise Against waft across the park, my spot at the front of the crowd for Animal Collective seemed worth all the trouble. But, as the AC set time grew nearer, flocks of stoned, American Apparel’ed out teenagers shoved their way through. By the time I found my footing, I discovered I’d stumbled upon an encampment of middle-aged women. “Are these guys good?” one asks the rest of the squad, pointing to where one of the best touring bands going will soon grace the stage. And I think to myself, why are Animal Collective here, now? Why are the guys behind Hollinndagain and Here Comes the Indian appealing to fake hippies and apathetic housewives? Why couldn’t the Lolla curators stacked AC together with similar acts (say Gang Gang Dance, Dan Deacon, even Deerhunter or No Age) like they did with Bon Iver/Fleet Foxes/Andrew Bird, instead of stuttering them with Glasvegas/Coheed and Cambria/Rise Against? I can’t decide whether this is a great thing (more people discovering a fantastic group of artists) or a terrible one (fans having to deal with obnoxious people who don’t give a shit). Either way, I was raring to hear them play.
As they finally kicked their set ahead (with a bubbly, beautiful intro into the excellent, new “Blue Sky”), the Jumbotrons seemed to be malfunctioning. But, instead of broadcasting the group’s actions (which, I must say, have become a bit stoic), they chose to display a trippy visual accompaniment. This truly changed the set, made it tenfold more interesting for anyone without a clear view of the stage. But, was this in any way related to the visual album the group’s been promising for the past couple of years? Yes or no, I took copious notes as to what was going on on the big screen.
The new, electrified version of “Leaf House” came next, and it seemed even the shirtless dudes (of which there were oh so many) next to me were excited and singing along (or chanting along, as it were). “Guys Eyes” and “Daily Routine” were just as great as they are on record, plus a little extra, complete with swirling, multilayered intros, outros and through-tros. The new jam “Bleed” was a little simplistic for their tastes, relying heavily on a quick, repeated motif. The always excellent (if a little long) “Fireworks”/”Lablakely Dress” collage brought out some sparklers in the crowd (which seemed a little dangerous, but hey, go with it). The stellar set-closer “Brother Sport” was every bit of fun you’d imagine it to be, with everyone (nearly) in the crowd dancing and hollering along with the chorus. It may not have been as great as their last Chicago appearance (due to a shorter set length), but it proved to be easily the best set of the day. -A.K.
Chicago 2016: 8:30-10:00 p.m.
Out of all the bands performing this weekend, none more have I ever been so eager to see than the Los Angeles progressive metal legends Tool. Since I can remember back to high school, these guys always represented a perennial chapter of my life begging to be completed. With the completion of Chicagos Rise Against and an hour long chat with friendly Midwestern fans of the mysterious band, Maynard and company strutted on stage with demure prowess. Frontman Maynard James Keenan dressed as a corrupt state trooper in full uniform, complete with a silver badge and a sick pair of Aviators to top off his more-than-awesome Mohawk. Guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor donned matching white attire which made them resemble crazy scientists lost in the ways of the world.
Drummer Danny Carey got the crowd pumping however with the beginning of the 10,000 Days smash Jambi to which the thirsty Chicago faithful pushed and prodded their way forward without mercy. Arms, legs, cameras, glasses, you name it were tossed aside in the glory of Jones thick guitars and Chancellors awesome bass. Keenan stood aside Carey in the background frantically wailing in the shadows like some long forgotten locked up banshee. Jones guitars smacked every single Lolla-goer right in the face as the band launched into Stinkfist. As a favorite of mine from high school, seeing this slice of metal heaven live couldnt have been better and the crowd intensified in their quest for forward glory. Theres not even a reason to explain how great these guys sounded live you just had to be there to see it.
After the waves of Stinkfist simmered, Chancellor kickstarted the famous bassline of Forty-Six & 2 and the crowd went nuts. By far the loudest crowd of the weekend, when Tool launched into the perennial favorite about the next evolution amongst human chromosomes, the city of Chicago felt so far away. Here you had a group of people screaming, belting, yelling these guys songs from years and years ago and all that could be felt was the heavy passion. Its completely refreshing to finally go to a show and feel some sort of emotional release by crashing into people and hoping in the process not to break something. That inherent risk of danger makes you feel alive, and Tool is no stranger to inherent risks at all. The Lateralus favorite Schism followed and Keenan shined brilliantly here. Jones guitar work is incredibly underrated and here it was amazing to finally see it after all this time. Beautifully interwoven musical textures combined with the bands stellar and bizarre imagery pushed everything over the top. Its safe to say these guys have been doing this for almost 20 years, but they look like theyre having a great time doing it each and every single show. Keenan quipped to the audience, The only regret tonight is not seeing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Thanks for comin out, which drew cheers and sneers from the Lolla faithful. The man of little words, Keenan stuck to his guns and never sounded better.
With the slamming finale of Rosetta Stoned, Flood, the disgustingly awesome and sardonic Aenima and the slamming of the door with Lateralus and Vicarious, Tool proved why theyre so great to begin with. Offering little to no words at all, they let the music do the talking. Shockingly enough, the band intentionally avoided performing anything off of their early works Opiate and Undertow, save for “Flood”. No Prison Sex. No Sober. And certainly no Eulogy. Dont get me wrong, I have honestly no complaints, but its definitely unexpected that the colossal progressive outfit omitted some of their most classic work. Could it be the limited 90 minute headline slot? Probably so. Either way you cut it, Tool owned and people were satisfied. This is one chapter of my life thats proudly written and way over due to be completed. So is it a great way to cap off night two right here in the Windy City? You bet your ass it is. – J.Z.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Budweiser: 8:30-10:00 p.m.
When the Beastie Boys canceled, people panicked. Who would replace what was arguably the hottest act on the bill? It would be hard. Everyone from Jay-Z to Pearl Jam were suggested, though organizers scrambled fast and booked the one band people thought would be there from the beginning: New York’s hip ‘n’ glitzy Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Earlier this year, rumors swirled about that the band would be one of the top contenders for Lolla ’09. However, once they booked a sold-out show at the Aragon Ballroom, and the line-up lacked any Karen O, people were both distraught and bitter. Thus, the replacement seemed fitting.
“We’re not even supposed to be here,” Karen O exclaimed, three-fourths into the set. After she confessed that she never thought the band would be able to fill in the shoes for the “motherfucking Beastie Boys” (they did manage to throw in the riff of “So What’cha Want?” toward the beginning of the set), the crowd showed some love, even if they had been doing so for the past 45 minutes.
Truth be told, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs delivered one of the strongest headlining sets in quite some time. It felt organic, it felt honest. When Karen O slipped up on the lyrics during an intimate acoustic performance of “Maps”, the crowd picked her up, dusted her off, and kept things going. When’s the last time that happened outside a small club? There was a sense of community. Even when the strange yet illustrious frontwoman briskly walked around the stage — at one point, disappearing backstage for a moment — she let the crowd know that, “It’s too far, otherwise I’d come out.”
It was just fun. All the new material, stripped from this year’s brilliant It’s Blitz!, scooped fans off their feet and held ’em high into the air. Dancing riots broke out during new hits “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll”, which despite the electronic influences as of late, segued nicely into past material, specifically stellar tracks “Pin” and “Date with the Night”. When fans weren’t dancing, they were clapping and fist pumping, with a forest of arms making visibility tough. In all honesty, if people didn’t enjoy this, they’re just miserable human beings.
After all, Karen O is a spectacle unto herself. There might have been a glittery blue backdrop, inflatable eyeballs, glam-tastic neon lights, and riff riots via Nick Zinner, but who can ignore the sexual overtones (deep throating a microphone, lifting skirts, and dry humping her guitarist) or the stoic impersonations of a peacock? She’s a phenomenon, really, and people enjoy those — at least the few thousand that skipped out on Tool do. -M.R.