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Published: 2007/08/06

Vedder, Farrell, Activism and ‘The Rainbow Connection’ at Lollapalooza

This past weekend more than 50,000 concertgoers made their way into Chicagos Grant Park each day for Lollapalooza 2007 (the festivals the third year in its current incarnation as a standalone event). This year Lollapalooza served up nine stages, eight of which were named for corporate partners, while the final one, the Kidz stage, offered some of the most surprising and inspiring music of the weekend. The festivals founder, Perry Farrell, was a steady presence throughout the site, introducing many of the bands, and even performing for the first time at Lollapalooza in a number of years with a group, rather than solely serving as a DJ. Eddie Vedder made the rounds as well, with Pearl jam offering a pre-party at the Vic Theater on Thursday night (in addition, Vedder who grew up in Evanston, IL, threw out the first pitch at the Chicago Cubs game the next afternoon).
Fridays music began shortly after 11:00AM, with Elvis Perkins in Dearland supplying some early highs. At one point, Perkins explained that the band was going to cover a dance song from the 60sthe 1860s and then moved in a traditional square dance tune. Shortly afterwards, Soulive took the stage as a trio and then brought out new vocalist Toussaint before its second song to showcase some of the material from the groups new Stax release. Chin Up Chin Up generated some early buzz, as did a set from venerable blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite. The Polyphonic Spree also delivered a mid-afternoon set, appearing first in military garb, in conjunction with their Fragile Army disc and later returning to their customary robes. moe. performed to a packed crowd at the festivals main stage shortly thereafter, followed by Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party, which offered up a number of Janes Addiction songs and also drew in a guest appearance by former Porno For Pyros guitarist Peter DiStefano. Soon afterwards, LCD Soundsystem offered up a version of Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, which proved quite fitting as Daft Punk closed out the evening from the main stage. Meanwhile, Eddie Vedder joined Ben Harper during Harpers set which wrapped up the second stage (Harper had appeared with Pearl Jam during their Indifference’ encore at the Vic on Thursday).
On Saturday a number of memorable moments took place on the Kidz stage. Patti Smith performed a surprise set there as did My Morning Jackets Jim James who appeared on banjo, closing out his performance with a cover of the Muppet Movies The Rainbow Connection. Earlier, Wilcos Jeff Tweedy served as a roadie for his son Spencer, who performed with his group, The Blisters. As for Patti Smith, she played for adults too, expressing, It feels so great to be back in the city of my birth. Other standouts included the Hold Steady, Spoon, Interpol and Sound Tribe Sector 9 (delivering a rare daylight set).
The action built on Sunday with Amy Winehouse, Rodrigo y Gabriela, The Wailers, Yo La Tengo and Apostle of Hustle drawing sizable crowds. In addition, the Kidz Stage offered plenty of action, including solo sets from Eddie Vedder and Ben Harper as well as the Chicago School of Rocks Allstars interpreting the music of Janes Addiction with special guest Perry Farrell. As for other guests, Kings of Leon appeared in the late afternoon with Eddie Vedder adding vocals and tambourine to Slow Night, So Long. Then My Morning Jacket, its members clad in tuxedos, performed a few songs before they were joined by the Chicago Youth Symphony.
The night culminated with a performance by Pearl Jam, the only band at Lollapalooza to perform without any music from a competing stage. The groups set included Corduroy, Even Flow, Alive and Daughter. Midway through, Vedder made a speech decrying BP/Amocos dumping of toxins into Lake Michigan. Then, prior to the groups second encore, the PJ front man introduced Tomas Young, who is at the center of the documentary Body of War (where he returns from Iraq paralyzed and begins to question the war). Young spoke to the crowd, after which Vedder and Harper performed a song they had written for him. The night later closed with a take on Neil Youngs Rockin’ in the Free World with appearances from many of the festivals artists as well as former Chicago Bull, Dennis Rodman.

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