Monday, August 10, 2009

Lollapalooza 2009: Neko Case, Lou Reed

Neko Case (Photo by Frank Krolicki)

Without doubt, Neko Case was one of the highlights of this year's Lollapalooza. Prior to her Sunday set I wasn't really sure how she'd come across in the music festival setting. So much of her material is thoughtful and intimate and suited for venues that allow it to shine, not a huge grassy field filled with hot, sweaty drunk people.

Somehow, though, Case managed to make it work wonderfully.

As soon as she started playing the Budweiser Stage at 4:30, it was clear the sound was 100 percent on target and that the set would be a welcome change of pace from most of the fest's other acts. She played a variety of songs from her latest record, Middle Cyclone - including "This Tornado Loves You," "I'm an Animal," The Pharaohs" and the marvelous, jangly single "People Got a Lotta Nerve" - in addition to back catalog favorites such as "Maybe Sparrow" and "Deep Red Bells." Case's clear, pure voice couldn't have sounded better, and she was charming and down-to-earth throughout - no doubt one of the classiest acts on this year's bill.

Neko Case (Photo by Frank Krolicki)

Neko Case (Photo by Frank Krolicki)

This year's "legend" act, Lou Reed, took the same stage later in the evening at 6:30. The performance was oddly surreal for a number of reasons:

1 - Despite playing a full hour, Reed only made it through eight songs, thanks to the fact that "Paranoia Key of E" went on for no less than 18 minutes, with an extremely extended outro that included lots of squealing and screeching noise effects.
2. Reed said absolutely nothing to the audience save for introducing his band members at the very end of the set.
3. The performance started 15 minutes late and ended 15 minutes late, forcing a tardy start for Band of Horses on the nearby Playstation Stage. It seems the unnecessarily long endings of many of the songs could have been shortened to take care of this problem.
4. Most of the crowd didn't seem to know what to make of Reed.

Even though the performance was a bit strange, the power of classics such as "Sweet Jane," "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Waiting for the Man" couldn't be denied.

Lou Reed plays the Budweiser Stage (Photo by Frank Krolicki)

Lou Reed setlist:

1. Sweet Jane
2. Senselessly Cruel
3. Dirty Blvd
4. Waves of Fear
5. Mad
6. Paranoia Key of E
7. Waiting for the Man
8. Walk on the Wild Side


  1. i went on sunday primarily to see lou reed and was relatively disappointed with the underwhelming performance (save for the efforts of his saxophonist; who was leaned upon mightily by reed.) he only got jazzed for the newer shit (and that was the weakest material; boring philly soul that went on and on...), and opted for slowed-down, detailed version of his older, popular work, instead of rendering upbeat, vital versions that a festival crowd needs and demands. total crap.

  2. Unprepared, unprofessional, rude, poor performance, waste of time.

    I have never witnessed such a prima donna...complainer, whiner. He scowled at the guitarist (who did his best to smile and laugh and act like he understood what the hell Lou wanted him to play) on his left all night.

    Starting late is something no one I have witnessed do in the four years I have attended this Grant Park event. None, no matter who they are, have ever gone over...he went over 30 minutes!

    Utter crap.

    Lou, the are others in the world, particuallary the group Band of Horses who had to wait for you to finish in order to start and then had to compete with Janes Addiction on time start....

    Really, would someone with some power and influence call this selfish nut out on the carpet?

  3. Neko Case woulda been cool to see. This year's lineup was all around pretty awesome..definitely wish I went, but good thing Fuse is having the highlights special this Saturday for Lolla...cuz I wouldnt want to miss anything good!! Lolla on Fuse