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Lollapalooza 2008: Day 1 Recap

By Marcus Gilmer in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 2, 2008 5:00PM

2008_08_02_thom.jpgYesterday was Lollapalooza's first ever sell out (as is Saturday), cramming over 75,000 people into Grant Park, and it felt we were jostled by every single one during Radiohead's closing headline set. We bumped into fest curator Perry Farrell and spotted a few other celebs standing at the side of the stages. Also in attendance? The sun. One of the loudest cheers we heard all day was when the first cloud blessed us with its presence...around 5 p.m. Amongst the sun and beer cups was some fantastic music and some performances that left us wanting a little more.

When we first entered the grounds around 11:30, we were greeted by the sight of enthusiastic Radiohead fans sprinting to the AT&T stage to stake their claim. For us, though, it was off to see Bang Camaro, who lived up to their name. The raucous metal got the fest off to a rousing start, exactly what we needed in the heat, working up a sweat with powerful fist-pumping. From there, we crossed over to catch the throbbing, pulsing swagger of Holy Fuck. They held there own on the mammoth stage and the crowd gathered seemed to be into it. Rogue Wave was up next on our schedule and, like the other bands, their songs captured the hot mood well. They breezed through selections like "Every Moment" and "Publish My Love," sunny psych-pop for a sunny day. They were also the first band to experience sound issues, being drowned out by Manchester Orchestra at the nearby Citi stage.

Shortly before the Rogue Wave set ended, we sprinted (or rather, walked kind of fast) to the other end of the park to catch The Go! Team and were rewarded for our efforts. Turning in one of the most enjoyable sets of the day, Ninja bounced around the stage like a 5-year old on Red Bull while Ian, Kaori, and the rest of the Team jammed behind her. The crowd jumped and waved and beat back the heat with their dancing. All this in spite of suffering the same problem that plagued almost every set we saw: the music was cranked loud but the vocals were way too low. Still, it was easily one of our favorite sets of the day, especially in light of what was to come.

Duffy was next and while we dig her soulful sounds, her set left us...underwhelmed? Maybe it was the heat finally getting to us, especially on the concrete surrounding the Playstation stage, but it seemed that Duffy's mid-tempo ballads and shuffles sucked the energy out of us. We thought her vocals were ace, but the set lacked the energy necessary to keep us from falling asleep in the heat. The Black Keys' dirty garage blues propped us up a bit, crushing through songs like "3 AM Automatic," and their set featured the aforementioned cloud cover, bringing us a brief respite from the heat. Unfortunately, the following set by Cat Power again left us craving a nap in the shade. We've never had a problem with Chan's performances, but, like many sets, it seemed the vocals weren't loud enough and, like Duffy, her mid-tempo stylings weren't enough to keep our energy up.

It was with this in mind that we made our first "screw this" decision of the weekend and made our way to hear Grizzly Bear. Their woozy brand of indie-pop was easy listening as we set up camp in the shade to the side of the stage and hydrated, trying to get our second (or third or fourth) wind for the evening. The rest gave us back our energy and we made our way down to Bloc Party. Lead man Kele Okereke was the first rocker we saw proudly sporting Obama paraphernalia but certainly won't be the last. Their Brit-dance-punk-indie set was a good set-up for the band that followed, the one everyone came to see.

Ah yes. The Head, as we obnoxiously refer to them sometimes. Finally. Radiohead's set spanned their entire catalog (save debut LP Pablo Honey) and it was our first chance to hear the band live since the release of In Rainbows and the songs sounded just as fantastic live as they do on record. "We're from Eng-uh-land," Thom Yorke declared for the uninitiated. That was about the extent of his chatting with the large crowd, but his frantic, spastic style of dancing was more than enough to entertain us. Stand-outs included "There, There," "The Bends," and "Reckoner," though we doubt many fans will forget the impromptu fireworks show that went off as the band launched into "Fake Plastic Trees." Our only complaints stem from the same sound issue that plagued other sets: from our vantage point at stage left, the vocals seemed lower than any other band that day and at quieter points, the chattering crowd around us threatened to drown out the band entirely. Still, we thought Thom & Co. performed a very solid two-hour set worthy of the anticipation that surrounded their appearance.

And now? Well, we do it all over again. For the next two days.

Pass the water, please.

Photo by Jim Kopeny