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Portugal. The Man Chows Down At Lollapalooza

Posted by MTV News On August - 7 - 2011

By Rya Backer

In addition to being a hub of all things music since Friday, Lollapalooza has established itself as a culinary bastion – hosting such Chicago institutions as Lou Malnatti’s Deep Dish pizza, Kuma’s Corner burgers, and Grahamwich – a Northside restaurant operated by Lollapalooza’s culinary director (yes, they’re that serious about concertgoers literally leaving Chicago with a good taste in their mouths) Graham Elliott.

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Portland-by-way-of-Alaska psych rockers, Portugal. The Man were tasked with the burden of being our taste testers of all the festival had to offer in the strip of food vendors known as Chow Town. Drummer Jason Sechrist was excited to finally try a Kuma’s burger – each named after a famous metal band (he got the Neurosis); keyboardist Ryan Neighbors grabbed a Scotch Egg from The Gage and Henri; lead singer John Gourley sampled lobster corndogs and truffled popcorn from Grahamwich, and each of the four got watermelon and jalapeno popsicles from the Chicago Local stand.

The quartet picked up the goods – occasionally being stopped by an incredibly enthusiastic fan – and parked at a nearby picnic table to feast. They agreed that the biggest hits: the burger, the popcorn, and the Scotch Egg. The lobster corndog – despite how dazzling it might’ve sounded – was a near miss only because it wasn’t deep fried enough.

“Lollapalooza has an incredible menu to chow down on,” exclaimed Sechrist. “That’s the best festival snacks I think I’ve ever had.” His burger was so good in fact, that he was tempted to sample even more Neurosis – this time though, it would be the music by the actual band.

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MTV News is in Chicago for Lollapalooza 2011! Stick with us all weekend as we cover the bands you love and the bands you will love soon.

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Lollapalooza Day Two: Skylar Grey, Patrick Stump, Ellie Goulding Mix It Up

Posted by Gil Kaufman On August - 7 - 2011

Chicago — The plan for a weekend of Lollapalooza shuffle firmly established, Saturday’s musical Pu-Pu platter was a bit more focused on rock and its various offshoots, plus, frankly, bands I either love already or was just curious about.

First on the list was hip-hop’s current go-to hook queen, Skylar Grey. In her first major appearance since blowing up thanks to her vocals on Dr Dre’s “I Need a Doctor,” singer/songwriter Grey is clearly read to go out on her own. (She would join pal Eminem later in the night during his headlining set.)

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With a haunting, gothy vibe, Grey came out wearing a ragged white hoodie that hung in shreds like a ghost shawl down to her ankles, accented by combat boots, army pants and a white sports bra that showed off her impossibly thin belly. She was all aggression and angst, at one point neck-tackling her guitarist.

Her moody rock tunes, which balanced programmed beats with live playing, combined anxiety and empowerment (“Monster,” “Beautiful Nightmare”), showing off her crisp, high vocals and the plainspoken songwriting slated for her upcoming major-label debut. Part Alanis Morissette and part Dido, the songs struck a balance between vulnerability and no B.S. strength. The self-professed “f—ing weirdo” also played a snippet of Radiohead’s “Creep” before busting into her own tune about being a super freak, “Weirdo.”

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Just as they did two years ago, British dance popsters Friendly Fires drew an early, sweaty slot on the North main stage, but made the most of it with a high-energy set that ended with the falsetto boogie anthem “Kiss of Life.” It was a very different vibe just moments later on an adjacent stage when pale, puffy-eyed and sleepless-looking flower punkers the Black Lips stumbled out for one of their typically chaotic sets.

It had all the usual shenanigans: flying spit, cookie-tossing and beer-shotgunning … and that was just during the first two songs. Guitarist Cole Alexander threw up several times during the 1960s-swinging “Family Tree,” before executing a sloppy backward tumble and catching some of his spit off the back of his guitar. But it was songs like the Nuggets-worthy bopper “O Katrina,” which blew by in a blur of Hendrix-like fuzz solos, screaming vocals and runaway-train drums that got the crowd moving.

Sometimes you just wander by something and have to take a look, which is what happened with the band Dom. With songs like “Jesus Hail Satan” and “Brochicha” you might have expected something heavier and way more metal from the from the Worcester, Massachusetts, group, but instead they served up bopping, sunny pop/rock with a New Wave swing that was a nice antidote to the Lips’ more assaultive show.

Down at the South end of the park, retro soul man Mayer Hawthorne served up a number of blue-eyed soul nuggets from his upcoming debut (like “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”) mixed with a snippet of the Pharrell chorus on Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful,” as well as Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True.”

Despite a nearly 21-year layoff of the original lineup of Big Audio Dynamite, the group led by former Clash member Mick Jones still felt fresh in its Lolla debut. The band’s once-ahead-of-its-time reggae/hip-hop sound may have sounded even more relevant than in its heyday. Songs like the classics “Medicine Show,” “A Party” and “B.A.D.” mixed pop hooks with reggae, thunking beats, guitar, rapping and snippets of cowboy movie classics into a thick, enticing musical gumbo.

A day after his former bandmate Pete Wentz made his major debut with his new band, the electro-dance Black Cards, ex-Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump had his turn. Looking dapper in a kind of futuristic tuxedo/Dickies combo, Stump played to a large crowd on one of the smaller side stages, impressing with his soulful take on modern R&B.

At one point, he jumped behind the drum kit for a super medley of classic New Jack Swing hits, including “This Is How We Do It,” “Every Little Step,” “Motownphilly” and “Poison.” When he was back out front, the sound was all nervy Soul Punk (not coincidentally, the perfectly titled name of his upcoming debut solo album). Tunes like “Explode” were the perfect mix of indie energy and Motown bounce, but Stump really endeared himself with the earnest ode to his beloved town, “My City,” in which he praised all that is good (and bad) in Chicago.

British pop chanteuse Ellie Goulding enticed the crowd with the sexy “Under the Sheets” and “This Love Will Be Your Downfall,” coming off like a more mainstream Bjork thanks to her high, reedy voice, but with way more disco/pop swing.

Wearing her standard raccoon-eye makeup and skin-baring, almost-not-there band-aid dress, Taylor Momsen and the Pretty Reckless got lots of love for their doomy set of grungy pop/metal on a small side stage. Songs like “Light Me Up,” “My Medicine” and “Zombie” felt a bit too dark for the bright dinnertime set, but Momsen’s banshee yelp and her all-male band’s Sunset Strip hair-metal attack cooked up the perfect amount of dark madness.

All in all, not a bad mix for a hazy, lazy Saturday.

MTV News is in Chicago for Lollapalooza 2011! Stick with us all weekend as we cover the bands you love and the bands you will love soon.

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Lollapa-Cruisin’ With Damian Kulash Of OK Go

Posted by MTV News On August - 6 - 2011

By Rya Backer

In addition to welcoming 90,000 concertgoers this weekend, Chicago, Illinois, can claim many notables as its natives: Oprah, the McCallister family from “Home Alone,” Michael Jordan and even our president. And OK Go, the pop-rock act with a flair for catchy choruses and groundbreaking music videos, also hail from here — so it was only natural for the group’s lead singer, Damian Kulash, to take us for a spin around the grounds of Lollapalooza.

But Kulash was quick to admit that the crowd congestion this weekend doesn’t present an accurate portrayal of his hometown. “The entire city of Chicago is on shutdown,” he admitted.

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Kulash, who attended his first Lollapalooza back when it was a touring event in 1994, has a certain affinity for the festival. “My favorite band at the time was Shudder to Think,” he recalls. “They were on one of the smaller artist stages. I just sat there and worshipped. It was amazing.”

And his admiration still stands, having labeled the three days of nonstop music across eight stages “the American rock tradition in one place.”

Thirteen years after attending as a fan, Kulash and Co. took to the stage themselves. “It’s the second time OK Go’s played Lollapalooza. We played Lollapalooza the first year it was here in Chicago. It was 102 degrees. It was unbelievable!” Less memorable was his choice of dress back then. “I was wearing a wool suit the entire time. I’ve become much more practical in my old age,” pointing out his decidedly lighter, cotton button-down shirt.

The excitement was palpable as Kulash drove the cart (“I don’t play golf, but I know how to drive a cart”) in and around the festival grounds. “I know it sounds crazy, but everybody’s got this ‘I can’t believe it’s about to happen’ vibe!” He pointed to the main stage fields, which were quickly filling up with fans for the evening’s headliners Coldplay.

MTV News is in Chicago for Lollapalooza 2011! Stick with us all weekend as we cover the bands you love and the bands you will love soon.

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Tinie Tempah, Skrillex And Grace Potter Cover The Bases At Lollapalooza

Posted by Gil Kaufman On August - 6 - 2011

CHICAGO — Who doesn’t like to hit “shuffle” every once in a while? Sure, playlists are cool, but sometimes when your friends come over, it’s also fun to spin the dial and see what comes up, maybe impress them with anything from Miles Davis to My Morning Jacket, Britney Spears to Bon Jovi.

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So I decided that my first day of Lollapalooza would be random, a musical buffet that went from hippie pop to British rap, indie rock to electro, with a few stops at everything in between. It began with England’s Vaccines, who kicked off the first day of the three-day music orgy on one of the main stages with their ear candy coital anthem “Post Break-Up Sex.” Fittingly, I took in their set while chatting with “120 Minutes” host Matt Pinfield, who agreed that the ‘Cines sound was a perfect throwback to the good old days of Brit pop and 1980s indie rock.

Wayyyy at the other end of the spectrum (and field) was the hip-shaking boogie of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, who were serving up a mellowed-down easy vibe with “Goodbye Kiss,” a smooth slice of hippie rock that fit the mood of the hazy early afternoon. Potter, as usual, in high heels and a spangly, barely there microdress that ended around where it should have begun, wailed like a new-age Janis Joplin on “2:22″ and strapped on a flying V guitar for the band’s breakthrough hit “Paris (Ooh La La),” a boogie pop-blues tune that got the audience doing the scarecrow dance.

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Things came down a notch when hometown indie rockers the Smith Westerns took an adjacent stage, playing a set of feathery, soothing tunes like “Fallen in Love,” a far cry from the hyped-up, DJ-inspired beats served up a short while later by another Chicago act, former Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz’s new band, Black Cards.

Wentz promised a new look with Black Cards and he delivered, as his new band’s mash-up of hard house beats, electronic squiggles, reggae riddims and diva toasting-rapping drew several hundred to one of the smaller stages. Wentz, who encouraged fans to check out former FOB bandmate Patrick Stump’s set on Saturday, ran between two turntables and the front of the stage as he triggered beats, threw out rolls of toilet paper, crowd surfed and mugged with comely singer Bebe Rexha.

She started out flanked by two scantily clad dancers in werewolf masks who gyrated along to the bass-rattling beats and combo of live drumming and programmed thwaps. “Summer Nights” was a solid warm-weather anthem, with an arm-waving chorus and an assist from a psyched, bespectacled crowd member who was hardly the “bad, bad boy” Rexha was singing about, but who did a mean Pee Wee Herman shuffle.

Beats were also the order of the day for burly British rapper Tinie Tempah, who jacked the huge crowd at his stage with a full-force live band and DJ who provided a thick wall of sound for “Frisky.” All the while, Tempah’s hype crew worked the crowd by handing out posters and other promotional goodies while wearing giant sandwich boards of the cover of Tempah’s debut album, Disc-Overy.

Just down the way at the newly expanded Perry’s Tent — a dance mecca that has grown from a tiny party in a shady grove a few years ago to a massive all-day rave — the party never stopped. As the afternoon turned to evening, emo rocker-turned DJ Skrillex played a punishing set of thuggish techno party jams to a jam-packed house of daytime ravers who whopped at the sound of every club tune he mashed up for them.

One girl, bleeding profusely from the neck as EMTs attended to her wounds, seemed unwilling to leave, bobbing her head and smiling while perched on a road case as waves of choking heat wafted off the sardine-packed crowd.

As day turned to night, A Perfect Circle could be heard in the distance finishing up their set with a bruising take on “Passive,” making way for Canadian indie-tronica duo Crystal Castles. Lolla veterans, the pair did not disappoint the huge crowd that turned out for them, playing a striking set of funky robotic trance rock, with singer Alice Glass bouncing across the stage — and rolling on top of the crowd like a gothic rag doll.

MTV News is in Chicago for Lollapalooza 2011! Stick with us all weekend as we cover the bands you love and the bands you will love soon.

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Death From Above 1979 Bring Lollapalooza To Life

Posted by Gil Kaufman On August - 5 - 2011

Credit: Gil Kaufman/ MTV News

Chicago – Some bands never live up to their legend and others have a legend but don’t stay together long enough to live up to it. And then, somewhere in between there are bands like Death From Above 1979. The Canadian dance punk drum and bass/keyboard duo reunited this year after a five-year hiatus, which equaled the amount of time they were together the first go round (2001-2006).

Judging from the hour-long show they played at Chicago’s Metro on Thursday night as part of a tune-up for this weekend’s Lollapalooza festival, there isn’t much rust on this hard-driving machine. Playing to a sold-out crow at the legendary northside nightclub in the shadow of historic Wrigley Field, bassist Jesse Keeler and drummer/singer Sebastien Grainger fell right into the pocket as if no time had passed at all.

Opening with “Turn it Out,” Grainger – in all white – and Keeler – all in black – set of the first of a relentless barrage of rocket-fueled beats, with Grainger yelping urgently over his double kick-drum beats and Keeler’s killer bee of doom bass. “Black History Month” slowed their roll just a hair before the whole thing collapsed into a squall of noise and feedback.

Though Lolla has expanded over the years to include much more hip-hop, techno, jam band, mainstream rock and every genre in between, DFA’s screeching feedback and seasick mix of squelchy keyboards and machine gun beats was like a time machine back to the 1991 edition’s version of a noise machines, Nine Inch Nails and the Butthole Surfers.

Like those bands, DFA’s face-punching attack never let up, making it feel like the duo were running as fast as they could in every direction, always just a bit off balance. Around 40 minutes in Grainger addressed the audience, thanking them for coming out, admitting he can’t tell the Cars from Ok Go and Weezer and launching into an extended riff on lesbians and their buzzing bedroom assistants.

Keeler promised they weren’t just killing time because they only had one album’s-worth of material to play, proving it with the fuzzed-out “Do It!,” which, like a number of their songs, sounded a bit like the White Stripes if they were less concerned with melody and more focused on ear-blasting distortion.

The show ended with a tease of the dancey “Sexy Results,” which went from club-friendly to yet another 12-car pile-up of thundering drums. The crowd, sweaty and satisfied, spilled out into the humid night charged up and seemingly fueled for three more days of musical mayhem.

Check out all of the highlights from Lollapalooza 2011, and tweet your pics from Lollapalooza to @mtvnews and they could be featured on!

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