Phoenix + Grizzly Bear at Lollapalooza 2010: Live review and photo gallery

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

  • Photograph: Dana Loftus

Photograph: Dana Loftus

Photos: Dana Loftus Photos: Lollapalooza 2010 Sunday Photos: Lollapalooza 2010 Saturday Photos: Lollapalooza 2010 Friday Anheuser-Busch beverages flow through Lollapalooza liberally, much like the skunky waft of, well, bud. It's a perfect reunion of intoxicant and narcotic each year when the brewing magnet–sponsored stage (wearing the Budweiser banner for the past two years, and Bud Light before that) hosts headlining acts on the north end of Grant Park. This year the stage plotters that be decided to shake things up a little, repositioning the mammoth platform kitty-corner from the Petrillo Music Sh… er, PlayStation stage (sigh). It’s hard to say whether that’s been a boon or a bane for Lolla-goers, but one asset is that the cement strip jutting diagonally across the field now neatly divides it in two. Nevertheless, I'd be interested to hear the logic behind it. A spate of acts swept through the north end this weekend, including reggae legend Jimmy Cliff and reunited garage-rock pros the Strokes. But I hadn’t experienced anything like the congestion today when I stumbled upon a sea of bodies taking in the xx on the PlaySation stage while hordes were simultaneously oozing onto the rest of the field, staking out a claim for Grizzly Bear. Programming these two mega-hyped acts on the same field back to back seemed like a recipe for disaster, especially when considering how much smaller the north end is compared to the south. Still, it was undeniably convenient for any fans wishing to do an about-face—both literally and stylistically—from minimal electro-pop to jazzy avant-folk. But as soon as the xx’s set wrapped up there was enough of an exodus that my claustrophobia concerns soon dissipated. Photos: Dana Loftus Photos: Lollapalooza 2010 Sunday Photos: Lollapalooza 2010 Saturday Photos: Lollapalooza 2010 Friday Anheuser-Busch beverages flow through Lollapalooza liberally, much like the skunky waft of, well, bud. It's a perfect reunion of intoxicant and narcotic each year when the brewing magnet–sponsored stage (wearing the Budweiser banner for the past two years, and Bud Light before that) hosts headlining acts on the north end of Grant Park. This year the stage plotters that be decided to shake things up a little, repositioning the mammoth platform kitty-corner from the Petrillo Music Sh… er, PlayStation stage (sigh). It’s hard to say whether that’s been a boon or a bane for Lolla-goers, but one asset is that the cement strip jutting diagonally across the field now neatly divides it in two. Nevertheless, I'd be interested to hear the logic behind it. A spate of acts swept through the north end this weekend, including reggae legend Jimmy Cliff and reunited garage-rock pros the Strokes. But I hadn’t experienced anything like the congestion today when I stumbled upon a sea of bodies taking in the xx on the PlaySation stage while hordes were simultaneously oozing onto the rest of the field, staking out a claim for Grizzly Bear. Programming these two mega-hyped acts on the same field back to back seemed like a recipe for disaster, especially when considering how much smaller the north end is compared to the south. Still, it was undeniably convenient for any fans wishing to do an about-face—both literally and stylistically—from minimal electro-pop to jazzy avant-folk. But as soon as the xx’s set wrapped up there was enough of an exodus that my claustrophobia concerns soon dissipated. That left the sunny spotlight on silken pop unit Grizzly Bear, who played a gorgeous, gauzy set. Leaning heavy on the heavenly harmonies for which the band is best known, the Brooklyn band completely proved to me and everyone else in attendance that they’d earned this promotion, having serenaded the now defunct Citi stage (positioned opposite its former location just west of Columbus Drive and rechristened the Sony bloggie stage, coincidentally where I spent quite a bit of time this afternoon) just two summers ago. Staggered across the enormous Budweiser stage, the four members played largely from their latest, Veckatimest, with spot-on renditions of the immaculate single "Two Weeks," and breezy shuffle "Cheerleader," among others, punctuated with tunes from the group's 2006 breakthrough Yellow House. Bandleader Ed Droste’s dreamy tenor and Daniel Rossen's old-world croon pair effortlessly, anchored by bassist and burgeoning producer Chris Taylor plus imaginative and tasteful drummer Christopher Bear. Together, they brought a hush over the crowd, a skill they've had time to hone. This is a band that’s slowly grown into bigger stages, after all, even opening a leg of Radiohead’s last U.S. tour. Here they demonstrated that high-performing precision, sprinkled with the light and airy chamber-informed lullabies that’ve kept these guys at the top of the indie rock heap. It’s remarkable to think that not long ago they were playing to intimate local rooms like Subterranean and the Empty Bottle. But these guys are self-aware enough to acknowledge the ascent, clearly appreciative of the attention and even showing sign language ace Barbie Parker some love just for keeping up with the band. Last night's headliners Phoenix probably didn't trip up Parker, either. After all, they're French (as singer Thomas Mars adorably demonstrated when counting off a tune "un, deux, trois...")—it's not like their grasp of the English language rivals local whistle-happy wordsmith Andrew Bird (which makes me wonder how that obstacle was tackled back in 2006 when an unlucky Lolla signer was tasked with translating then fest guest Bird). Rather, it's somewhat of a no-brainer. How hard is it to sign the words "fold it" over and over, or whatever Mars is singing (as hilariously riffed on in this year-end Village Voice essay). But it isn't worth getting too hung up on the lyrics with these guys, as the frontman isn't aiming to establish a linear train of thought. Not that it mattered to the Francophlic flock packing the north end for the group’s Saturday-closing set. To the NPR-adored act's credit, their upbeat breezy pop goes down easy—sometimes too easy, like the rock & roll analogue of smooth jazz. Or perhaps a club-friendly modern day yacht rock, which makes enough sense when considering there must've been at least a handful of white collar booze cruisers taking it all in from Lake Michigan. Regardless, the band's pulsating amalgam keeps fans on their feet, whether by land or sea. When news that Phoenix was the sixth Lolla headliner first leaked, I'd questioned to myself whether they’d be able to fill the vast parkland. In the past the group had proven itself more than capable of playing to large halls like the Aragon, even dipping into Allstate Arena last year for XRT's Big Holiday Concert at Allstate Arena last December, even though in that instance they were opening for the higher tier Flaming Lips. Still, they answered that question in short order last night. Even the band itself seemed surprise by the enormous reception, "This is the biggest crowd we've played to," Mars acknowledged at one point. The celebrated act actually rivaled the Strokes’ crowd in numbers, which is an extraordinary accomplishment when you think about it. Last year' breakout platter Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix dropped just over a year ago, which is a testament to the power of the internet to break bands faster than ever. The album's ecstatic reception is entirely based off a few very similar-sounding expertly polished pop nuggets—"1901" and "Lisztomania"—raising this band’s profile to an astonishing extent. Mars and the gang started with the latter last night, and proceeded to knock out the crowd with a set culled largely from the Grammy-winning LP, nearly blowing its entire wad of hits in the first 20 minutes, stopping just short of barreling through the Cadillac Escalade–endorsed fave, which they smartly saved for the encore. Though they had just an hour and half of time to fill (kill?), I’d wondered how they were going to pull it off, especially given the fact that the massive audience was familiar with only its last two albums (an optimistic assertion, more likely just the most recent record), despite the band having issued four studio LPs in the last decade. But that’s the thing about Phoenix’s music. If you’ve heard one song you’ve kinda heard 'em all. Sofia Coppola's baby daddy was free to warble through as many transcendental couplets as he desired. Especially with touring drummer Thomas Hedlund playing behind him (who my colleague Brent DiCrescenzo considers the band's secret weapon live). The Swedish stickman packed an astonishing wallop while perched high above his stripped-down kit. Though as I noted during the performance, I'm deeply concerned that with all that head bobbing he’s bound to give himself a concussion. Any chance a freelance drummer gets a health insurance package while on a world tour? About an hour into the set Mars announced that he and his fellow Frenchies were calling it a night, though the fact that an encore was around the corner was plainly obvious to anyone with half a brain. Still, I was amazed that some audience members began trickling out before they’d even played their biggest hit "1901," which as I mentioned they'd wisely been saving until the very end for that final home run. After an awkward interim where the crowd seemed to almost forget that they had to applaud and yell things in order to bring the band back on stage, the six band members (a touring keyboardist was also on hand) quickly resumed their positions on the super wide platform followed by Mars’ a cappella rendition of AIR’s exquisite “Playground Love” from the fellow French act's haunting and brilliant soundtrack to the 1999 novel-turned-flick, The Virgin Suicides, the brainchild of Mars's aforementioned baby mama. I spent a lot of time with that album, and that tune in particular, when first released, and it was a lovely surprise to hear him coo a couple verses, backed by the gentle strum of acoustic guitar. It was dark and simply divine. When the band finally served up "1901," the entire audience predictably went absolutely ape shit, and that cement divide I alluded to earlier began to tremble and shake, at which point I decided it might be a good time to split. (Who’d absorb the cost of re-cementing that walkway were a crack to emerge? Fest promoter C3 or the Chicago Parks District? Or maybe it'd fall on the Parkways Foundation? Discuss.) As I ambled out the music halted before slowly resuming, and for a second I thought they were playing another tune. However it quickly became clear that they were simply breaking down the set-closing anthem, winding down the evening with a polite and graceful landing. It was an elegant way to exit, something that could hardly be said of the epic-running set from Billie Joe and co. But Phoenix hasn’t quite earned that level of gravitas yet. Besides, a standard tenet of showbiz is to leave the crowd wanting more. Well played, Phoenix, in both that regard and literally. Photos: Lollapalooza 2010 Day 1 Photos: Lollapalooza 2010 Day 2



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