First up on our schedule for Saturday was the Walk the Moon, hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, on the Music Unlimited stage. Maybe it’s our Midwestern connection, but we love these kids, and judging by the crowd-induced sing-a-longs, (many also showed up with their faces already painted, a nod to the band’s habit of doing so,) we aren’t the only ones.
Several members from the crazed crowd battled through the barriers to get closer to Death From Above 1979, during their seriously BONKERS set on the Bud Light stage.
Friendly Fires was up next, which required a sweaty hike to the opposite side of the park at the Bud Light stage. Magic must’ve been in the air: a couple got engaged during the opening atmospheric sounds of the band’s set. Don’t worry guys, the sap stopped there. The boys were covered in sweat before they finished their 2nd song, and as someone who has seen them perform at many festivals in the last few year, I can honestly, (and ECSTATICALLY) confirm that they have yet to lose their power of enthralling hundreds of fans, passionately wil’n out in the blistering sun. Between the laughing and smiling they share within the band, and the energy levels that continued to rise and rise until the end of the set, Friendly Fires were absolutely one of the best bands to see all weekend.
Edward McFarland, with his curly hair and wild tropical top, (that I want to steal,) unleashed his Mick Jagger swagger in full force on the Bud Light stage.
I decided to see the Black Lips immediately following. Um…I did enjoy parts of their set: their sound wasn’t surprising, as it was practically identical to their recorded sound. Unfortunately, neither was their behavior. Our photog Rubes was vommed on before the first song ended, and although the SECOND band member that followed suit happened to avoid her, it was enough to convince us to give Dom a chance.
Although 2 band members lost their lunches before the end of the first song, electric, hair metal guitar solos and raucous, throaty vocals carried the Black Lips through their late afternoon set on the Playstation Stage.
Dom, the name of the band AND the lead singer, (who I swear I thought was a girl until the very moment he graced the stage :/) is sort of like a nerded-out early 80’s Axl Rose. This is not an insult. I loved watching him slither around the front of the stage, easily navigating his guitar strings and flipping his hair around. He graciously thanked the audience, sincerely exclaiming that they had never played to such a large crowd. I’m a sucker for gratitude, so I stayed and jammed to ‘Jesus Hail Satan,’ ‘Bochica,’ and ‘Living in America.’
Dom frontman ‘Dom’ expressed his gratitude to what he described as the largest crowd they’d ever played for, performing a energetically sweet, simple and fun set full of gospel-inspired keyboards and sentimental, nasally vocals.
I’ve seen Mayer Hawthorne & the County a handful of times, but I honestly could not resist seeing him woo his wanna-be baby mama’s on the Sony stage. His powerful falsetto glazed everyone over, but I got a little superstitious when the County twinkled into ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ as the Chicago sky became gray and overcast. Luckily they switched gears to my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE COVER EVER, ‘Work to Do.’ Swoon city, population: bazillion.
The Drums played soon after on the Google+ stage. Blonde babyfacer and singer Jonathan Pierce ALWAYS reminds me of Karate Kid bad boy ‘Johnny Lawrence,’ but it’s forgivable. In fact, I kinda like it, as he portrays a flexible robot that is programmed to move to each beat of song. They played a new one, ‘Money,’ and I was quite appreciative of their ability to maintain the nostalgic sound quality that the band is well-known for, while keeping me interested in what is to come.
Vocal rainbows reminiscent of early Scott Walker arced over the sweaty crowd as the Drums graced us with a set of all things ethereal, swanky, beached out and grunge.
Mick Jones and Big Audio Dynamite were incredibly memorable on the Music Unlimited Stage. I don’t know about you guy, but getting to see a Clash member perform with his more than decent band is a life moment. The cameras zoomed in, displaying the intensity in his eyes and the jagged perfection of his movements.
Changing the pace entirely, I went to see Local Natives on the Sony stage, and depressingly I found myself surrounded by kids, (seriously, as in under 18-ers,) all missing shoes, all covered in mud and ick from the morning’s showers. I do understand the allure of this band: they’re young, they’re insanely talented musicians and vocalists, and they really have the folky oh’s and ah’s down. But after getting swarmed by their filth-covered super fans, I decided to see what Cee-Lo Green had to offer back at the Music Unlimited stage.
Local Natives played to PACKED, ecstatic crowd on the Sony stage, stompin and yellin and honky-tonkin their way through a set of folk-based rock reminiscent of a modern-day Fleetwood Mac.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t much. Although it wasn’t hard to bob along to his cover of the Violent Femmes’ ‘Gone Daddy Gone,’ or the electric mash-up of ‘Welcome to the Jungle’/Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ the only other highlights were his recycling of Gnarls Barkley hits and his bizarro spiky leather football player shoulder pads.
Finally we found our way to the Google+ stage for Lykke Li. As this was one of the most anticipated sets of the day, I was bummed to find the photo pit overflowing. However, I should have known better. Never one to be told no, Rachel Rubes was soon seen elevating above the other photogs, clambering up the barriers to snap some awesome shots of indie rock’s dark angel. The set was slow and steady, building the anticipation with her mild, 50’s sounding love songs, before pulling her crowd down the rabbit hole, as the sun faded and the heat of the day finally began to recede.
Lykke Li hypnotized her audience with a steady set of throbbing bass, pulsing beats, and her angelic, alto purr.
[photos by Rachel Rubes | post by Jess Bonkers]
READ MORE : MOKB + Lollapalooza 2011 : Festival Overview Part 2