Lollapalooza Day 2 will go down in history for the oncoming-storm threat evacuation. At 3:30, just as we were set to hear Chairlift, we were informed the festival was suspended and we all needed to move to the nearest exit. I happened to be talking with the manager of the band Fun at the time who was not only rather confused but also had no idea what the afternoon would hold. Neither did any of us. Throngs of people took over the streets, some heading to emergency shelters in the system of underground garages, others heading to restaurants and businesses in the area, and others, like me, deciding to head home with memories of last year’s swamp. Unfortunately for me but good for everyone else, the festival did re-open just after 6 with an abbreviated schedule and an extended closing time. Many of the bands still go to play their sets but others, including the hotly anticipated Alabama Shakes, never hit the stage. They later tweeted, “Sorry Chicago, we were really pumped to play for you all but the storm had other plans. We will be back to make it up for you!” I look forward to seeing them soon.
The morning got off to a powerful but confusing start with a set from Chicago’s Chief Keef. After a surprise appearance at the Pitchfork festival in July and one of the hottest internet singles of the summer with “I Don’t Like,” his set was a late addition and brought many people out for his noon appearance. He hit the stage with a crew of nearly twenty other rappers and hangers-on, some with microphones, others just posing and pointing. If you didn’t know Keef ahead of time, it would have been hard to pick him out. This was not a showcase of his rapping skills by any means. It was mostly a communal sing-along. Even for the parts Keef rapped on his own, he did it over a pre-recorded version of himself. The results were confusing – is this the next wave of rap and hip-hop? I couldn’t help but feel a strange irony by seeing the “Ebony” and “Jet” magazine logos from Michigan Avenue in the background during the performance, wondering about what Chief Keef says about music and culture today, just as those magazines did back in the 1960’s. With the recorded gunfire at the end of his set, coming during a summer with nightly shootings in Chicago, it blurred the line between commentary and disrespect. In the end, I’m left feeling there are people out there doing it much better. So as far as Chief Keef is concerned, don’t believe the hype.
On a completely different note, JEFF the brotherhood brought their stormy two-man rock and roll show to an early afternoon slot. Playing to a bigger crowd than they’ve ever seen, at a time earlier than they’ve ever played, the band managed to break music down to its basics and dazzle with an energetic performance. Their mix of psych-garage-punk-rock has earned them a devoted fanbase and respect in the music community. Playing songs like the recently released “Sixpack” and “Heavy Days,” they kept a great energy going, despite the many challenges with the sound. These two brothers, Jake and Jamin Orrall better get used to the big stage fast – they announced they will be opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their tour of Australia. Hopefully Aussies will get to those shows early to see a great young American band doing the two-man thing rather well.
The Delta Spirit played Lollapalooza last year, but now have graduated to a larger stage, although still an afternoon time slot. Their impassioned sound has a roots feel, and with their name and vibe it’s hard to think of this band as being from San Diego. But they have a vision for great songs and solid rock and roll music layered with textures that somehow manage to always work. It’s a great combination and works well on stage, especially with the energy Matt Vasquez brings to the lead, and no surprise to see them climbing the ranks of fan favorites at summer festivals. I was glad to have the chance to see them again and look forward to new material.
With that, my all-too-brief Lollapalooza day 2 came to a close. Tomorrow brings a slate of outstanding bands and the promise of cooler and drier weather. Onward!
Reviewed by Neil Rigler on 8/4/12