Reverb is on the ground in Chicago bringing you highlights from this year’s Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park.
The best: The newly expanded-for-2011 Lolla grounds layout is the most obvious improvement this year. Gone are the massive human bottlenecks. The most beautiful act of day 1 was A Perfect Circle — not since Radiohead has a performance physically given me goosebumps. Perfect sound, perfect delivery, though the always-lifeless, ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and the curious army barracks theme on stage detracted from the performance. Another big highlight from Friday was Ratatat. It’s not easy sharing a time slot with co-headliners Coldplay, Muse and Girl Talk, but Ratatat out-played them all.
Most disappointing: Cults. After releasing their stellar self-titled debut earlier this year, this delicious ear worm band held high hopes for many. But, much like last summer’s boy-girl buzz band du jour, Sleigh Bells, Cults just do not seem to deliver live what they accomplish so well on record. Another big turn off from Friday was the kids, holy crap, the kids. Lolla Day 1 was by my less-than-scientific estimate 99% high-schoolers, and all 69,900 of them were trying to cram into the airplane hangar-sized tent for Girl Talk. It was a hot, sweaty mess, but that’s all part of a Girl Talk show.
The strangest: Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes takes the crown for strangest performance of the day. She was stomping and lurking throughout the set, occasionally slapping herself in the face, occasionally doing somersaults in high heels. Eventually she tossed the shoes into the crowd, lifted her dress over her head, and stage dove. Oh, did I mention she was doing all this in a bloody apron?
Matt Hoffman is a Chicago-based writer and a new contributor to Reverb.