The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Friday, August 08, 2008
Lollapalooza '08 Recap: Day Three

We kicked off our final day of Lolla by checking out Brazilian Girls at the AT&T Stage. I can't really judge how good their performance was since we started to consume a carton of wine we were able to sneak in past security. Seriously, you could've got away with hiding an entire keg in your pants judging by what other's had snuck into the park. I saw this one group congregating around a backpack that not only had a liter of Jack Daniels, but also several beer cans (points were deducted since it was Busch Light – apparently they raided a nearby frat house). Regardless, I guess we need to kick up our game next time.

From there it was onto Pitchfork's favorite band, Black Kids. Their set was actually underwhelming and I don't think they're ready for the festival environment let alone a big venue as of yet. At least live they don't sound as glossed up as they do on their new album. Reggie's voice seemed to go out of key at times and they definitely looked tired towards the end, most likely due to the oppressive heat in the park that day. Overall their set was rather meh as they were much better at Black Cat when they opened for Cut Copy.

We decided to camp out at the Citi stage while finishing the rest of our wine where we were introduced to the antics of Saul Williams. I'm glad we were able to watch this guy because, honestly, it was something else. Accompanied by a keyboardist in a Dracula outfit and a guitarist in a silver space suit, Williams greeted the packed crowd adorned with face paint and feathers in his hair. Needless to say, this was one of the most unique acts I've witnessed at Lollapalooza and it sure as hell was the wisest of moves during an otherwise lull period of the schedule (Flogging Molly, Blues Traveler?...blech).

Following Saul Williams on the Citi stage was none other than Girl Talk. I'm still blown away by the massive crowd that gathered for his hour-long set. The dude has come full circle and is a bona-fide success story after baring witness to one of the most popular acts of the entire day. I could not believe my eyes how insanely packed the street and surrounding area was for his performance.

Unfortunately, popularity results in a bigger crowd which subsequently results in an increased number of knuckleheads. We were standing next to these douches from some party school that provided their own source of entertainment. "I totally raped this girl to that song!" OK, so they actually didn't say that, but that got a few laughs from our group after we continuously ripped on them.

Anyway, back to Girl Talk. Gone are the days when this guy was playing the backstage of the Black Cat. Greg Gillis has elevated himself to a whole new level after seeing the size of the crowd. Lil' Wayne's "A Milli" over the Chili Pepper's "Under the Bridge" was one of my favorite parts of his rapid-fire act but by 45 minutes into the set I had enough of the absurd amount of beer spilling, constant shoving, and horrid dancing. We went over to Mark Ronson which proved to be a smart choice. Too bad I missed this, though.

I didn't know what to expect when we saw Mark Ronson. I knew he was a DJ/producer but didn't know what type of show he would put on. Would he be spinning records the entire time? Would he have a live band? Turns out the dude can play guitar, and yes, he did in fact bring out a live band, complete with horn and string sections. While most of the crowd was still over at Girl Talk's nearby set, Ronson and his band broke into an instrumental version of Maximo Park's "Apply Some Pressure" which got the growing crowd going.

Ronson brought out guest after guest to help assist in performing his material from Version. Chicago MC Rhymefest displayed some true showmanship while performing "Toxic", Candie Payne subbed in for Lily Allen's vocal on "Oh My God", and Tawiah did an admirable job replacing Amy Winehouse on "Valerie." By the time Phantom Planet joined Ronson onstage for "California" we were already over on the other side of the field waiting for Kanye's headlining set. All and all, having never seen Ronson and having doubts whether his show would be enjoyable or not, the dude did a decent job. Mr. West, however, blew him out of the water.

As soon as 8pm arrived, it was Kanye's time to shine. Unlike his previous Lolla performance which featured several guests such as Lupe, A-Trak, and Twista, Kanye was essentially all on his own during his 90 minute set. He had an entire band performing alongside him but you could barely tell they were there as all lights shone on Kanye the entire time. Proving that he's the best performer in the genre today, West slayed song after song and the crowd loved every minute of it.

Starting off with a powerful rendition of "Good Morning", West blazed through track after track with little to no breaks in between. While watching the show, I was amazed by how much he's improved his showmanship. He truly had a great live presence that Sunday night and I didn't even have to be that close to the stage to notice it. Furthermore, I honestly couldn't find anything wrong with his performance, though a cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" was kind of weird/cool. Finishing with "Stronger", West closed this year's Lollapalooza with a rousing performance which completely one-upped his appearance from two years ago.

Best Act – Kanye West

Sorry We Missed – Kid Sister

Most Pleasant Surprise – Saul Willaims

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