As we alluded to earlier today, day one of Lollapalooza 2008 started off with a bang. Though with a line of festival-goers stretching more than five blocks, most folks didn’t start rolling in until Holy Fuck and Black Lips kicked off their respective sets, unofficially signaling the start of this year’s festivities.
Neither band shows signs of early morning hangovers as Holy Fuck thrilled an already crowded AT&T Stage, many composed of those diehard Radiohead fans in hour one of their day-long camp out, with the electro bliss of “The Pulse”. While fans of Yorke and company didn’t seem all too captivated by the Canadian natives, perhaps because no remix of “Nude” was offered, Holy Fuck did offer the other willing recipients a set of overpowering sounds that brought reminders and memories of LCD Soundsystem’s ruckus set last Lollapalooza.
Those who choose to make the long trek over to the Bud Light Stage for Atlanta’s Black Lips received a set that while lacking a bit of the band’s characteristic inane stage antics, was equally enthusiastic. Kicking off with “I Saw A Ghost (Lean)” and “O Katrina!”, the band’s 16 song set offered the mostly still sleepy concert goers with a style that blended Phil Spektor with early Rolling Stones.
Before heading over for our interview with the Black Lips, we made a quick stop at the AT&T Stage to check out a few minutes of Yeasayer. While the band presented themselves well on the larger than life main stage, most of their set seemed a bit underwhelming, with the exception of a captivating rendition of their hit “2080”. Though their synth, electro-heavy sound was tight, Yeasayer frontman Anand Wilder was a bit sloppy on the vocal side of things.
One of the day’s more surprising performances was the set delivered by Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears on the BMI Stage. The grooving Austin blues outfit delivered some of the festival’s coolest sounds under the overhang of Grant Park’s greenest areas, allowing for a refreshing scene of comfort and music. Though a rather unknown act on the bill, anyone walking by the BMI Stage during their set couldn’t help but be stopped by Black Joe Lewis, even if it was just for a few minutes.
Under scorching heat (as expected at 2:15) and with refillable water bottles of wine flowing( $24 at the bar tents), The Go! Team joined a host of other Friday bands in setting a great tone for Lolla 2008. With their usual, six person band on stage, Go! played a balanced selection of tracks off both albums. They scored with their instrumental and more melodic tunes, getting everyone moving in the sun, only a few hours before The Black Keys would do the same on the exact stage. Ninja, the main singer, came out with a special energy and with a bright colored pair of sunglasses that matched with many of the crowd watching. Compared to 2006, The Go! Team was able to switch instruments easier and sounded very polished in their performance, which can be hard for the electronic samples and tempo changes in every other song. This was another breakout Lolla performance from The Go! Team, who at this point might as well be penciled into a middle of the day slot every year.
For anyone who has seen Gogol Bordello live in the past, their set on Friday was your typical performance. In other words, an hour long of furious, gypsy punk rock that is unique as it is fantastic. Under the watchful eye of a blistering sun and accompaniment of Lollapalooza’s best creative dance moves, the Brooklyn rockers played a set of mostly hits, highlighted by the frantic, rootsy “American Wedding” and jaw-dropping closer “Think Locally Fuck Globally”.
The musical/husband and wife duo of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel took the Myspace Stage soon after the finals rings of Gogol Bordello faded. While begining in classic Mates of State form, the drummer and keyboardist were soon accompanied by an orchestral section as they made their way through the set heavy in Re-Arrange Us’ material. Though Mates of State seemed a bit too small for the stage, their innocent grace brought memories of Broken Social Scene’s epic 2006 Lollapalooza performance.
If lucky enough to evade the sun, Radiohead fans camping out, and girls wearing headbands, Bloc Party provided one of the more solid crowd pleasing sets of Friday. The crowd for Bloc Party was different, containing many casual music fans and college radio fans. It was definitely a show for the tried and true Bloc Party fan, the set list seemed to contain more tracks off Weekend in the City and earlier songs by the band were done with some new live twists. Parts in the middle of the set allowed Kele and the rest of the band to play some of their slower and more calming tracks, which surely had to be appreciated by thousands showing up for Radiohead in a few shorts hours. “Helicopter” and “Waiting for the 7.18” stood out as the best tracks of the performance and had the crowd loving their choice to stick it out with Bloc Party.
As Jack White led his bandmates on stage for their Friday night performance on the Bud Light stage and the first sounds of Lollapalooza’s most notable rock and roll band overcame the packed crowed gathered to see the Raconteurs, the collective feeling was one of awe. Between the guitar solos, extended jamming, and dueling vocals between White and Brendan Benson, the four-piece outfit reaffirmed why that with only two albums under their belt, The Raconteurs are already widely considered one of today’s best rock bands. Though the performance was largely affected by sound problems, renditions of “Conolers of the Lonely”, “Level”, and “Keep It Clean” still provided enough captivating sounds that the delayed echos circulating the crowd were easily forgiven.
While most gathering in Grant Park’s south side as the sun began to set below Chicago’s famous skyline were focused on the long-awaited headlining performance to come, Stephen Malkmus led his Jicks in a 45 minute se that best can be described as fun. Heavy in material from his recently released album Real Emotional Trash, Malkmus not only offered a taste of his vast talents and decades of live experience, but also presented himself as someone full of innocence and modesty, reflecting a pleasant down-to-earth persona.
But by the time 8:00 p.m. came around, most of the day’s more noteworthy memories were, at least temporarily, forgotten as Lolla-goers got their first sites of Radiohead.
Lollapalooza 2008: Day One by the Numbers:
Black Lips t-shirts: 0
Kanye West name drops: 0
Beverages left at the media tent at 3:00 p.m.: 0
Myspace stickers using pasties sightings: 1
Perry Farrell Sightings: 1
Radiohead t-shirts: 5