Lollapalooza review by Vittorio Carli

 

Overall, the 2005 Lollapalooza was a both financial and artistic success. The show offered a large amount of high quality acts for a low price (including hot, multi platinum bands like the The Killers and Weezer).

Early reports indicate that it drew over 60,000 people to Grant Park over two days, and that the show will be back next year. Not bad for a show that was cancelled last year for low attendance.

On the other hand, this year’s Lollapalooza did not compare well with the original 1991 festival. That show had a superior atmosphere and talent lineup. Few of this year’s acts were truly subversive or cutting edge. At this point, the original lineup which included Nine Inch Nails, Body Count, Jane’s Addiction, Living Colour, The Violent Femmes, and Siouxsie and the Banshees may be impossible to beat. Other festivals have diluted the punk/alternative/college rock talent pool too much.

Also, Lollapalooza is no longer a magical event that captures an emerging counterculture. That aspect of the show is gone for good, but there was still much to get excited about.

The headlining bands acquitted themselves fairly well, but they did not usually give the best performances. The Killers’s strong set of synthesizer heavy pop songs included the irresistible “Mr. Brightside,” and the Weezer’s irony laced memo set of emo tunes was almost as catchy and melodic. But the highlight of the first day was the reunited Pixies, which featured an equal measure of hard rocking rhythms and great hooks. No wonder they’re considered one of the best bands of the ‘80s.

But most of the finest acts were the less popular and publicized ones. Spoon offered an exquisite set of pure pop songs, and they put on the strongest show on Sunday. Digable Planets delivered a wonderful blend of hip hop, funk, and jazz that that had much of the whole crowd dancing. Arcade Fire’s soaring set of symphonic pop songs had heavenly back up harmonies. The Warlock’s trippy, spacey set of reverb filled songs recalled two of my favorite bands: the early Syd Barrett led Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground.

Also, the Chicago performance art troop Spunn put on some shows that were addictively watchable than many of the musical shows. It was difficult for me to tear myself away from them to see the main acts. The black clad members juggled, bounced around on stilts, and put on hoola hoop performances on Saturday. See www.spunn.org. for more info.

There were also some acts that didn’t quite cut the mustard. Liz Phair has always been a weak live performer, and she was backed by a bland band of LA hacks. Pop punks, Dashboard Confessional, sounded derivative, and Chris Carraba’s whiny lyrics about misadventures with women never fail to annoy.

Sadly, Festival organizer, Perry’s Farrell’s new theatrical/musical project, Satellite Party was a big disappointment. Despite the band member’s high profile backgrounds, the band sounded like a lame Las Vegas lounge act with a few obligatory world music influences. And Farrel’s shirt was hideous!

Despite these lowpoints, the show was somewhat eclectic and occasionally great. There was far too much great talent for anyone to absorb, and I am already looking forward to next year’s show

 

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