Lollapalooza Saturday began at the crack of noon, or more specifically the crack of 1:30pm (hey, that's early by rock 'n' roll standards), as I walked through Chicago's Grant Park gates to the strains of U.K. electrorockers Does It Offend You Yeah?'s partystarting statement song, "We Are Rockstars." The tune's effect on me was more energizing than the double wheatgrass shot I stopped to gulp down at Jamba Juice on my way to the fest--after the previous day's rock 'n' roll marathon, I had to make it a double--and I probably shouldn't have even made that Jamba pitstop, in retrospect, because a) DIOYY? provided all the boost I needed and b) I ended up getting to the festival late, just in time to see DIOYY? frontman Morgan Quaintance abandon his squealing flying V on the floor and exit stage right. Judging from the equally squealing audience response--unusually enthusiastic considering the relatively early hour and the sweltering Chi-Town heat--DIOYY?'s set was apparently awesome.
Oh well. Hopefully I'd get the chance to see Does It Offend You Yeah? play some Lolla afterparty later in the weekend, since they're the hardest-partying band in showbiz: Whether it's South By Southwest, Coachella, or Lollapalooza, these guys will play any party. Heck, if I miss them at Lolla, maybe I can just ask them to play my niece's birthday party in a couple months. They'd probably say yes.
Anyway, next funky Philly college-rockers Dr. Dog played to a sizable hackeysacking, beachball-tossing throng over at the MySpace stage. Unfortunately, that large stage's sound system drowned out the smaller and noticeably less crowded Citi stage set by super-talented but sadly super-unknown L.A. singer-songwriter Ferras. There is one Ferras song, "Hollywood's Not America," that IS somewhat known since it was used in season 7 of American Idol, and he did play that one--but personally I preferred Ferras's more space-agey songs, like the Ziggyishly titled, Elton-esque "Marshmallow Spaceship."
Here are a couple pics of Dr. Dog and Ferras playing their very different shows, on different stages, at the same time (no, I didn't clone myself, I just learned to walk really fast, and take super-secret routes-less-traveled between the two stages):
Next up was one of the best bands of the day, spastic Brit mathrockers Foals, who drew a much bigger crowd to the Citi stage than Ferras did--including this facepainted fan in the front row:
Foals' angular and arty racket (all yelpy strangulated Robert Smith vocals and jagged, jackhammering guitars) really got the crowd excited--so much so that when they found out today was band member Jimmy Smith's birthday, the fans serenaded him with "Happy Birthday" (albeit a not-very-mathrocky version). Here are a couple pics of Jimmy and Foals celebrating:
Next in the DJ set section called "Perry's," Perry himself--aka Perry Farrell, the man who founded this whole Lollapalooza thing--was scheduled to perform at 3:30pm with a "special guest." Now, despite the fact that Perry had told me to my face in this interview that his collaborator would be superstar DJ and Lindsay Lohan gal pal Samantha Ronson, I still fell prey to rumors that he would be joined by everyone from Slash to Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump.
Oh, and then I found out later that Slash did join Perry and Samantha onstage. D'oh!
But sadly, I was already moving on to the next big stage. From Perry's I walked as fast as I could (not quite as fast as I did earlier between Ferras and Dr. Dog, as I was already tuckering out a bit) back to the MySpace stage, for Brooklyn psych-indie darlings MGMT. And MGMT were managing quite nicely, drawing a huge crowd twice the size of Dr. Dog's. That made sense, though: Their song "Kids" just might be THE number-one hipster song of summer '08, with numbers two and three possibly being their other songs "Time To Pretend" and (Kanye-endorsed) "Electric Feel." All three tunes sounded fresh and fun in the summer sun, as a gaggle of American Apparel-clad MySpace cadets--all decked out in ironic '80s sunglasses, neon Reeboks, Bjorn Borg headbands, LeSportsac fannypacks, the works--went positively Ecstatic (capitalization intended) for MGMT:
Next, Philly smut-peddler Spank Rock hit the Citi stage with all the loverman swagger of a pre-religious-conversion Prince or an "Untitled"-era D'Angelo, spitting out genital-obsessed rhymes so raunchy they'd make Luke from 2 Live Crew blanch. (Suffice to say, Spank Rock will never be invited to perform on the G-rated Kidzapalooza stage, like some other, less one-track-minded Lolla acts.) The Spankman was also joined for several songs by equally oversexed miss rap supreme Amanda Blank (of Philly performance-art collective Sweatheart; best known for her cameo on Britney Spears's "Gimme More" remix) and a Grace Jones-coiffed, Phantom-masked dancer introduced only as "Natalie"--the latter of whom was dripping in metallic gold silk, chainmail, and Mardi Gras beadage like a video-vixen dancer from Prince's "Diamonds & Pearls"/"Cream" era. Highlights from Spank Rock's triple-X set included a Prince-ly, simulated-sex dance (at least I hope it was simulated) between him and Natalie, and Amanda Blank's female-perspective cover of LL Cool J's "I Need Love." Here are some (thankfully PG-13-rated) pics:
The porno-pop fun continued over on the BMI stage with 20-year-old Miami MC Uffie--who at first seemed to be taking a cue from Lolla headliner Kanye West, when she hit the stage shamefully late (not three hours late, like Kanye at Bonnaroo, but almost a half-hour past her set time). "Uffie, Uffie, UFFIE!" the crowd cheered, to no avail. I was fuming. There was no excuse for such diva-esque tardiness by a 20-year-old upstart! But um, maybe there was an excuse. Because then the buddy baby diva finally ran onstage--breathless, her peroxide shag a bedheaded mess, her gold sequined hotpants riding up uncomfortably--and explained than her flight from Newark had been delayed six hours, and she'd literally just arrived in Chicago. What a trooper! Immediately, all was forgiven, and the waiting crowd literally welcomed Uffie with open arms:
"Are you ready to Uff?" the Uffster asked rhetorically; her adoring admirers responded with hearty, lusty cheers anyway. Backed by raggedly punky NYC electroclashers A.R.E. Weapons, with whom she'd only rehearsed for two days before her mad-dash Chicago flight, Uffie's set was unsurprisingly shambolic and amateurish. But when she stood there in her glittery microshorts, milk-white legs spread in a boldly wide stance, spitting badass badgirl rhymes like "I'm like a hot chick that you can't even touch!" that belied her innocent golden-girl looks...well, her hot-chick schtick was hard to resist. And her phonetically correct but politically incorrect T-shirt made for the best outfit of any festival performer--it probably would get her banned from the Kidzapalooza stage, too, but if she sold it at the Lolla merch booth she'd make a mint:
One lady who definitely did not put on a shambolic and amateurish show was soul sister Sharon Jones, accompanied on the Playstation 3 stage by supremely funky old-soul revivalists the Dap-Kings (aka Amy Winehouse's Back To Black backing band). The best act of Lollapalooza's first two days, in my not-so-humble opinion, Sharon was truly badass in ways Uffie could only imagine--after all, Sharon once worked as a Rikers Island corrections officer and an armored car guard! And she seemed positively plucked from a bygone golden-soul era:
Yep, I thought they didn't make 'em like that anymore, but Sharon's show was proof otherwise. After giving a shoutout to her obvious inspiration, Tina Turner (she voiced a desire to duet with Tina--which I suspect would be so amazing, it'd make that Beyonce/Tina Grammy collabo look like nuthin'), Sharon rocked the funk out of that Playstation stage:
She also invited a very enthusiastic male fan to dance onstage for "How Do I Let a Good Man Down," and she definitely didn't let him or anyone else in the audience down with her fiery, feisty, fun performance:
Post-movie, I cleared my senses and sinuses by boogieing a bit to celebrity DJs Momjeans (aka Danny Masterson from That '70s Show) and DJ AM (aka the former Mr. Nicole Richie/Mr. Mandy Moore)...
...before mellowing out to the headlining set by Wilco. Several afterparties beckoned, after all, so it was time to bail. However, after I forked out $20 for a roundtrip cab ride to a Perry Farrell-hosted warehouse party that turned out to be cancelled at the last minute, I found myself returning to my hotel room--unable to sleep, haunted by unsettling visions of the Flaming Lips' Christmas On Mars--and back in front of my laptop.
Which brings us to the present. Tomorrow is the third and final day of Lollapalooza, the day of reckoning when hometown (anti?)hero Kanye West returns to the festival circuit for the first time since his disastrous and controversial Bonnaroo appearance. So come back tomorrow to see if his concert was a Lollapa-winner or loser, and to get more disturbing details on that Lips' flick...