Even if the lineup for this year’s weekend-long Lollapalooza (again at Chicago’s Grant Park, where it has been since 2005), lacked superstar power, it was certainly eclectic.
That much was apparent during Friday’s performances. The day started with the gypsy punk sounds of Balkan Beat Box and the vibrant Latin rock of Los Amigos Invisibles. Veteran gospel/R&B singer Mavis Staples previewed several terrific songs from her forthcoming new album, You Are Not Alone, inviting its producer, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, out to play the moody title track.
American Bang delivered a fun-filled set of vintage-sounding Southern rock that was punctuated by references to drinking beer and getting laid. Wearing gray jumpsuits and masks and performing in front of a large video screen, Devo emphasized the material from its solid new studio album, Something for Everybody, before turning to hits such as “Girl U Want” and “Whip It.”
The Black Keys’ garage blues went over particularly well on a big stage as the Akron duo whipped up a fierce set.
Playing her only festival date of the year, headliner Lady Gaga was certainly Lollapalooza’s most anticipated act. While visually striking, her heavily choreographed act took place on a stage that looked the set from a Broadway musical. Too bad the music came off as shallow pop that seemed out of sync with the rest of the day’s left-of-center acts.
Playing during the same headlining time slot on the opposite end of Grant Park, the once influential Strokes sounded newly invigorated and surprisingly tight, especially they haven’t toured the U.S. in a couple of years. Maybe they’ve got some life left in them. —Jeff Niesel
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