Concert Review: Day 2, Lollapalooza 2013 (Saturday, August 3 in Grant Park)

Concert Review: Day 2, Lollapalooza 2013 (Saturday, August 3 in Grant Park)

Gorgeous weather made for a stellar day of live music Saturday in Grant Park as the second day of Lollapalooza 2013 featured the weekend's best schedule, including performances by Local Natives, Charles Bradley, Matt & Kim, Eric Church, Foals, The National, Heartless Bastards, Kendrick Lamar, The Lumineers, Steve Angello, The Postal Service, Mumford & Sons and many more... 

With some of the more ideal weather that I've ever experienced at Lollapalooza, festival grounds had a chance to dry out and were in nearly optimal shape heading into the best lineup of this year's three days on Saturday afternoon.

Following a reported no-show by experimental noise act Death Grips for an official Lollapalooza after show Friday night at Bottom Lounge, rumors swirled Saturday morning as it was announced not that Death Grips had cancelled but had "chose not to arrive in Chicago," which ultimately led to the band's replacement by L.A. rock quintet, Bad Things Saturday night on The Grove stage.

Random day two highlights on Saturday...

Always looking to keep with current music trends, Lollapalooza dipped their toe further into the country music pool for the first time in 2013 with performances by Court Yard Hounds (Emily Robison and Martie Maguire of the Dixie Chicks... basically the Dixie Chicks minus Natalie Maines) and current superstar Eric Church.

Court Yard Hounds, over the course of an hour set in front of a sparse crowd on the Lake Shore stage, ran through a casual set of country influenced pop including "See You in the Spring," a song Robison said was inspired by the contrast of harsh Chicago winters and hot Texas summers and trying to make a relationship work between the two.

An hour later, Church performed to an immense crowd in the southern bowl against one of the oddest juxtapositions of the day, if not the whole festival:  Adventure Club blasting away on Perry's Stage at the same time as Church.

Running through a solid set of heart-on-sleeve country favorites, Church wisely played to the festival crowd, working in a snippet of "Born to Run" during an energetic rendition of his hit "Springsteen" as well as Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" at the end of the set.  I was curious to see how country would play at Lollapalooza and judging from the size of his crowd and response to the music, the answer is "quite well."

Lollapalooza 2013 Chicago - Day 2, Saturday August 3

Photo by Jim Ryan

Lukas Nelson (son of Willie) and his band Promise of the Real tore through a forty minute set of decidely more rocking fare than fans of his father were likely expecting, ultimately closing with a rousing take on The Doors' "L.A. Woman."

Following Church on the festival's south end, The National performed on the Red Bull stage, to a similarly immense crowd.  A rewarding, if predictable, set saw the band move through seventy-five minutes that focused largely on material from 2010's High Violet and this past May's Trouble Will Find Me.  Hits like "Bloodbuzz Ohio" were present and accounted for as fans prepped for a set from The Lumineers' opposite the Red Bull stage once again on the Lake Shore stage immediately following.

For the second straight day, I felt like the sound on the Lake Shore stage was the worst I had experienced on any of Lollapalooza's eight stages.  Nonetheless, The Lumineers played to a similarly massive throng following up one of their biggest hits "Ho Hey" with a folksy cover of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" shortly thereafter.

HAIM was a band that I was completely unfamiliar with heading into Lollapalooza 2013.  Fronted by sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, the young, L.A. four piece featured one of the more unique sounds that I heard on Saturday (each sister handled vocals/harmonies and some form of percussion at some during the set in addition to bass, guitar and keyboards).

But the biggest surprise of the day actually came on the Kidz stage where Perry Farrell joined Bad Things for a surprise set in front of what quickly became a large crowd once word spread that, not only was Farrell onstage, but Bad Things' guitar player was none other than gold medal winning snowboarder Shaun White.

I'm always a tad hesitant when it comes to bands fronted by celebrities but I have to admit, White was more than capable as the rock quintet's lead guitarist (he also brought much needed charisma to a band fronted by David LeDuke who, while by no means a bad singer, didn't exactly seem overly confident).

With a section reserved solely for kids directly in front of the stage, the funniest moment of the set actually came as LeDuke said the word "sucked."  "You said a bad word!" screamed a little girl in front of the stage.  "That's not a bad word for me!" came the sheepish and smiling response.

Recently signed to Warner Brothers records and prepping the release of their debut album, Bad Things tore through an impressive set of Strokes influenced garage rock with reckless abandon, the highlight being a cover of Iggy & The Stooges "Search and Destroy" that saw Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell flail wildly as he handled the lead vocal.  The performance rocked and ended up as one of the cooler moments I've seen so far this weekend.

To his immense credit, Shaun White (quite possibly the biggest celebrity on hand at Lollapalooza this year) jumped down off of the stage following Bad Things' set, was immediately mobbed, yet stood smiling, signing autographs and posing for pictures with any child who had the courage to approach.

Perry Farrell and Shaun White's Bad Things - Lollapalooza 2013, Chicago

Photo by Jim Ryan

But once again the question of which headliner to see loomed large:  The Postal Service or Mumford & Sons?  Given the fact that Ben Gibbard has gone out of his way to paint this reunion tour as the band's final performances, it was hard to pass up a chance to check out The Postal Service.

Uncharacteristically serious throughout, Death Cab for Cutie frontman, Ben Gibbard moved deftly from vocals to drums and guitar throughout the set.  Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis added her unique brand of gorgeous vocals as well as guitar, drums, keyboard and more.

I've always been impressed by how well Gibbard sounds in concert (virtually identical to what you expect on album) and the incredible sound on the Bud Light stage that I gushed about following Nine Inch Nails' headlining set Friday night made the performance unforgettable.  I worried a bit that some of the more intimate, hushed tones of some of the Give Up album could be lost in the immense outdoor setting but that wasn't the case.

"We're a band from nowhere called The Postal Service.  It has indeed been awhile" said Gibbard near the beginning of the set.  "You've been so patient waiting for us to come play music all these years... [This] goes out to all of you for coming to see us."

"This is a song from the best band this side of Big Black" said Gibbard introing The Postal Service take on "Our Secret" by Beat Happening that saw Lewis move to the drums.  "This Place is a Prison" followed and was dedicated by Gibbard to Charles Bradley whom he apparently watched perform earlier in the day.

The slow churning set ultimately hit a boiling point as "A Tattered Line of String" and "Such Great Heights" gave way to the beautiful electronic and guitar discordance of "Natural Anthem" to close the main set.

I arrived on the festival's south end just in time to catch Mumford & Sons close their Lollapalooza evening with a stripped down, emotional acoustic take on Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" before finishing up with "The Cave."

- Jim Ryan

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    Jim Ryan

    Jim Ryan has written about music in print and online for a variety of Chicagoland publications for over fifteen years. In addition to duties filling in as Traffic Anchor on CLTV or in the helicopter on NBC 5, you can also catch him Sunday nights at 6PM central as host of "The Rock N' Roll Radio Program" on AM 1420 WIMS and AM 1060 WHFB (streaming at wimsradio.com and via the TuneIn Radio app for the smart phone or tablet). Jim has also worked locally for WXRT-FM, lives within walking distance of the Metro and is an avid White Sox and Blackhawks fan whose first live concert experience came at Comiskey Park in 1984 during the Jacksons' "Victory" tour.

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