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