Lollapalooza 2011, Saturday | Recap
Muddy, yucky and kinda stinky, the fields of Grant Park took a beating today following on some early morning rains. The crowd simply dealt with the less than ideal conditions as best it could—there was less lounging in the grass, because said grass was either wet or mudcaked by mid-day.
Saturday's line-up leaned slightly toward the very broad column of dance rock—in unheralded pioneers Big Audio Dynamite returning with more-or-less original members, Joy Division-with-more-melodies The Drums, aggro electro rockers Death from Above 1979 and so on. Breakout indie acts of recent years almost without fail have some dancey element informing the course of their rhythms—Lykke Li and Local Natives among them, newcomers Walk The Moon as well. Consider that and then consider the massive, young (and apparently drugged out their gourds) crowds that have made Perry's tent the festival's new heart and soul and the music culture we have is a very different beast than the one we had even three years ago.
The big story tonight and perhaps of all Lolla 2011 is undoubtedly the return of Eminem. What I saw of the rapper doing his classic-era Slim Shady material was inspired, animated and more instantly entertaining than I ever would have guessed as an admitted non-fan. Up at the Bud Light stage, I had to wonder (after shoveling down a banh mi from Henri) if pitting the soaring Kentucky rock of hair-flingers My Morning Jacket against one of rap's biggest, most-written about artists ever was just plain cruel. I could have slipped in the front row at MMJ without a fight. There appeared to be at least 50,000 bodies between me and the closest I got to the Detroit rapper. But MMJ were turning on the heat and throwing the horns, lap steel and the bathtub at us to make sure we went home satisfied. But speaking of satisfaction, there was a big upset day from another Michigan-bred fellow. The skinny record collector geek Mayer Hawthorne and an ace band took the cake (from what I saw) for showmanship, stylized performance and flowing between song banter. That Cee Lo Green's awkward and stuttering attempt at a Thunder-sex-karoake-dome was blown away by the Hawthorne's straight-up soul revue is worth noting, especially with a new Hawthorne album on the way. But hey, that's just one slice of what went down at Lollapalooza 2011 on Saturday. For everything else, start clicking wildly below and wear your crappy shoes while doing it—you'll thank me later.
A complete rundown of our Saturday reviews and photo galleries: