Black Sabbath and The Black Keys Kick Off Lollapalooza 2012
Lollapalooza continues its successful residency as a multi-day Chicago-based festival this weekend. Spanning 8 stages scattered around Grant Park, the current incarnation of Lolla allows for 50+ performances per day. As such it’s nearly impossible to see everything, but at the same time it’s really easy to see a lot.
The northern end of the festival kicked off with sets by Animal Kingdom and First Aid Kit. While both bands are quite gifted, and both perform as trios, the layout and general atmosphere benefitted Animal Kingdom to a greater degree than First Aid Kit, with the latter’s gentle folk being swallowed up by the sheer enormity of the festival. Sharon Van Etten, The Head And The Heart, and Dawes all seemed to suffer in a similar manner, with all 4 performers having delivered better sounding and more engaging sets at last weekend’s significantly smaller Newport Folk Festival.
On the other hand, the more noise your band makes, the better Lollapalooza serves you, best demonstrated by competing sets by The War on Drugs and The Black Angels, with the louder and brasher Angels drawing a significant portion of the crowd away from the similar-but-psychier WoD. EDM had a heavy presence at the festival, especially in the Perry’s area curated by festival founder Perry Farrell, but the attendance in this area, as well as the response to acts such as Die Antwoord and DJ Zebo on larger stages, suggests that the newly-titled genre’s 15 minutes are almost up.
Meanwhile, great singers seem to be on the upswing, with Yellow Ostrich, Passion Pit, Metric, and the aforementioned Black Angels drawing much larger crowds than the bands themselves seemed to have anticipated. In contrast to the Bonnaroo end of the festival scale, collaboration and community seem to take a back seat to tight, polished performances at Lolla, which is not only perfectly appropriate but also ultimately beneficial to the bands featured on this festival’s lineup.
Despite the frequent scheduling of similar-sounding bands at the same time, the constant ebb and flow of the audience from one stage to another doubtless earned some new fans for many of the day’s performers. A big showdown was scheduled for the close of Friday’s festivities, with now-arena rock darlings The Black Keys scheduled at the same time as the mostly-reunited Black Sabbath, with Wale and Bassnectar caught in the smaller-stage crossfire. Sabbath appeared to win the audience battle at first, however as their blistering set wore on (and frontman Ozzy Osborne’s pitch-control slowly disintegrated), many were seen maneuvering their way to the other end of the park for the Key’s fireworks-bolstered performance. Both Wale and Bassnectar also appeared to benefit somewhat by the big rock battle going on between the big stages, as they played to larger-than-expected crowds of dedicated hip-hop and electronica fans respectively.
Overall, most of the days performers brought their A-games, with Yellow Ostrich, The Black Angels, and Black Sabbath (the instrumentalists more than made up for Ozzy’s questionable intonation) as particular stand-outs in a day full of great performances.