The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Lollapalooza '08 Recap: Day Two

We got off to a late start Saturday opting for brunch over The Ting Tings. When we finally got to the park, we laid out by the MySpace stage listening to the indie pop sounds of Dr. Dog who put on an admirable show. I know they've come by DC multiple times but this was the first time I've actually heard their music and they'll probably be a band I checkout next time they come by the area.

The most pleasant surprise of the day was when we came across Foals over at the Citi stage. I had never heard of these guys before and I'm surprised how little press they've received because they were arguably one of the day's best sets. Their brand of "math-rock" came across as a mixture of Battles and The Rapture but was unique enough to avoid any sort of direct comparison. Plus they sounded great live to boot. This is one band to watch and I can't wait till they come around these parts.

From Foals it was on to the flavor of the month, none other than MGMT. Granted the popularity of this band has soared in recent months, but I was completely blown away by the crowd that had assembled in front of the MySpace stage during their performance. You would've though Radiohead was playing again if you saw the size of the audience. Seriously, it was nuts.

MGMT kicked these things with "Of Moons, Birds, & Monsters" followed by "Weekend Wars." Not surprisingly, half of the crowd left once they played their well-known hit "Time to Pretend". I mean, hey, that was fine by us since most of the people there probably only knew that one, overplayed track anyway. I have to hand it to these guys though, "Electric Feel" came off sounding great live and really got the crowd moving. Naturally, "Kids" was saved for last as the band had the crowd in the palm of their hand even if the song's performance was a little disjointed at times. Overall, not a bad set even though I'm still in disbelief over the enormous crowd that gathered.

After MGMT finished we camped out for Jamie Lidell. We had tickets to his show at the 9:30 last month but couldn't go at the last minute so we made sure to secure ourselves a nice spot at the stage barrier in order to get a first row view of his performance. Let me just say that this was the show of the day, if not the festival, for me. I was completely blown away by Lidell's set and this guy takes showmanship to a whole new level.

Kicking things off with "Another Day" with his backing band, including a guitar player in an Elvis singlet and his sax player decked out in a bathrobe and harvest hat, Lidell's soulful voice sounded great as he strutted from one side of the stage to the other. The amazing thing about this show was how Lidell carried his performance midway through without any sort of assistance from his band. They disappeared offstage during "Out of My System" while Lidell went to work with vocal loops, beat boxing, and whatever else he was doing with his laptop and mixers. His solo, sonic environment lasted at least a good ten to fifteen minutes before the band returned for "Where'd You Go?"

"Wait for Me" was one of the many highlights of Lidell's amazing set as the crooner jumped off the stage and into the crowd asking fans to sing the chorus before ending things with an a capella version of "Multiply." For those that were not in attendance for Lidell's performance, you easily missed out on one of the best sets of the entire festival. While I had wanted to see Okkervil River, which was unfortunately playing at the same time as Lidell, I ultimately had no regrets when Jamie wrapped things up.

One regret I do have was missing Battles. I didn't see them at the club thinking I would see them at Lolla but we only caught five minutes of their set before heading to Broken Social Scene over at the Bud Light stage in order to get a good spot for Wilco. Don't get me wrong, BSS is a great band and all, but nothing will ever top their '06 Lolla performance when they had the entire band in tow. Only Amy Milan was in attendance this time around along with all the male regulars and although they sounded good for the most part, there was something left to be desired. I think it's mostly because I was kicking myself for choosing a band I've seen a few times (BSS) over one I still really haven't yet. Next time Battles comes to DC I'm so there.

We opted for Wilco instead of Rage (as we all knew Rage's set was going to be utter chaos, which, low and behold it was) and even though I've seen the former countless times, they always manage to put on a terrific live show. Saturday night's was no exception as the hometown headliners, dressed in custom Nudie suits, played a 90 minute set that spanned their entire catalogue including their first album, AM. The treat of the night was hearing "Can't Stand It" performed live. This was the first time I've heard the Summerteeth track live out of the five or six times I've seen this band and, naturally, it sounded solid.

Leaving Grant Park that night was probably a lot easier and more peaceful than the absurdness transpiring over at the AT&T stage. Rage's presence probably explained why there were so many shirtless, frat brahs all over the place this weekend making Grant Park a solid one-third douchebaggy. Thankfully, they were nowhere to be found during Wilco's enjoyable set.

Best Act – Jamie Lidell

Sorry We Missed – Battles

Most Pleasant Surprise – Foals

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