Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lollapalooza 2011 day two: Beirut, Cee Lo, Big Audio Dynamite

By Frank Krolicki

Big Audio Dynamite (photo: Frank Krolicki)
After the first half of Lolla's Saturday performances came to an end and the masses started to flood into Grant Park, I decided to kick off the evening with Big Audio Dynamite. The British band, which includes The Clash's Mick Jones, was one of the fest's token "veteran" acts this year. I always make it a point to check these sets out because either a) performers who are around for a long time last for a reason--because they're really good, or b) I have the musical preferences of a 55-year old. Let's go with "a" for now. Anyway, these guys were very tight and I was glad I marked them down on my schedule. I can't say I wouldn't have rather heard Mick play Clash songs, but hearing fun, danceable B.A.D. tunes such as "Rush" and "E-MC2" wasn't a shabby way to close out the afternoon.

Cee Lo from afar (photo: Frank Krolicki)
Next came Cee Lo Green. Oh man, Cee Lo. This was a bizarre show. I don't think I've seen anything as bizarre at Lolla since Lou Reed's set back in 2009. Imagine having a really weird dream where you were going to a Cee Lo show, he came out dressed like something out of Mad Max and proceeded to perform totally random covers from the likes of Danzig and Billy Idol with his all-female band. That could only actually happen in some alternate universe, right? Well, it happened tonight at Lolla. The outfit part actually wasn't much of a shock--it is Cee Lo, after all--but I didn't see "Mother" and "Flesh for Fantasy" coming. He also did a couple Gnarles Barkley tracks and recent solo tunes "Fuck You" (of course) and "Bright Lights Bigger City." The odd setlist wouldn't have been an too much of an issue, but Cee Lo's often great voice seemed pretty shot and the overall energy of the set was just very strange (at one point, he tried to elicit excitement from the crowd by warning, "Don't you dare let these wonderful outfits go to waste or I'll step off the stage and slay you myself," then, after some cheers, following it up with, "Thank you so much, now no one has to die.") It was certainly a spectacle, though unfortunately more of the head-scratching kind than the awesome kind.

Beirut (photo: Frank Krolicki)
I decided to close out the night with Beirut. I was a bit curious to see what Eminem's set would be like, but not enough to be willing to deal with the insanity of that side of the fest (seriously, it seemed like 80% of people were over there). Zach Condon and company's brassy, world-inspired indie folk provided a more chilled out setting. Even though they were playing the smaller Google+ stage, I originally wondered how the band warranted a headlining slot and was surprised to see that they actually had such an enthusiastic fan base there that got visibly excited at the start of nearly every song. There is a smooth grandness to Beirut's material that came across well during the set, but I couldn't help but drift away after a while and wonder if it would be better suited for a more intimate environment. As with the rest of the performances of the day, I was waiting to be wowed, but that moment never really got there. Here's hoping it arrives on day three. Stay tuned.

More Lolla 2011 recaps:
Day one: The Vaccines, Reptar, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Smith Westerns, Cults
Day one: The Mountain Goats, Bright Eyes, OK GO, Coldplay
Day two: Walk the Moon, Friendly Fires, Black Lips

1 comment:

  1. Ahh I argree, Beirut's more of an intimate band and suit the smaller venues I agree but still a great live band.