Wow, what a weekend! My feet are a little worse for the wear, and I'm sporting a fresh sunburn, but it was worth it. But I am glad to be done with crowds!
Each band I'm reviewing I'm reviewing in the context of their performance at Lolla. If the weather was icky or there were a ton of douchebags in the crowd, well, sorry, but that impacts my enjoyment of the set. To quantify these reviews a little, I'm summarizing each one with a simple question - would I be willing to purchase a ticket to a show they are headlining? It's one thing to enjoy an act while in a festival situation, it's another thing altogether to make plans specifically to see a band/artist.
Day 1 - Friday
The Henry Clay People - First in, ran right to the vitaminwater stage to catch this band. I only heard of them recently, when I was sampling various artists playing at Lolla to help fill out my schedule. I really enjoyed what I heard, and I made my way over to see them. The crowd was sparse, but the line to get in was around the block, and it did fill in. The band was energetic, engaging with the audience, and sounded great! A Jackson Browne cover got the crowd moving. This was my favorite act of Day 1. Disclaimer: the weather on Friday was miserable - 7 hours straight downpour wore me down. Maybe under other circumstances, this act wouldn't have been my favorite, but I was on fresh legs and the rain was only a minor drizzle at this point.
Would I see this band again: Yes! I really look forward to the opportunity to see them in a smaller, more intimate setting.
Gaslight Anthem - By this point, it was raining hard, so some blood pumping music was in order. I missed the last 15 minutes of this set to run to the next act on my schedule, and I really regret it. They didn't wow me, but the band was having fun, the crowd had a small mosh pit, and it was a good time.
Would I see this band again: Tough call. I love The '59 Sound, but when I see an artist live, I want to be blown away. I want to not be able to listen to their albums for a few days because they sound so inferior to what I witnessed live. I just didn't get that from Gaslight Anthem. I would see them again in the right venue, but it isn't high on my priority list.
Bon Iver - OK, I'm going to lose any credibility I may have had with the hipsters and indie crowd, but I really do not like Bon Iver. OK, I like For Emma, and the rest of the album is fine for me to have on in the background. But by this time, I had been standing in the rain for 4 hours and this crowd was full of douchebags. I don't care if you want to dance or sing or have fun at the show. In fact, I think that is much preferable than the typical "hipster stand and minor head bob" that has become so prevalent. But this crowd was full of assholes who aren't even watching the band, having loud conversations, and people flailing their umbrellas and lit cigarettes in the air, with no regard to those around you. Fuck you to the bitch who burned a hole through my poncho. I don't care if you smoke, but when you risk bodily harm to me, then I get enraged. So yeah, Bon Iver attracted a lot of douchebags. Great. On top of that, the music is so mellow that it isn't really my first choice of what I would want to listen to in a crowd in the rain. Add to that that I find Bon Iver insufferably pretentious. Sorry kiddos. Justin Vernon even said that he was glad we were there since we had other "credible bands" to chose from. What the fuck does that mean? So not only are bands simply "good" or "bad", but this tool has a scale of credibility he assigns bands. What a pompous ass.
Would I see this band again: No way.
Fleet Foxes: I really enjoy this band, but I think it's a band I'm going to have to enjoy solely on CD. I found their live show just too laid back for my liking. Just a word of advice guys: You're big time now. You can afford a second guitar to have your guitar tech tune for you in between songs. When you only have a 60 minute set, and you spend 2-3 minutes dicking around between each song tuning your instruments, it sort of strikes me as the band is disinterested in playing for the crowd. Come on, guys! You have thousands of people here who probably will never see you again - take advantage of the time allotted to you!
Would I see this band again: Probably not.
At this point, I was going to watch The Decemberists and run over to catch of Montreal, but I had been in the rain for 7 hours at this point and was pruned up. Standing on the concrete in the playstation stage for 3 straight hours was painful as well. I took off for a bit to recover for the evening.
Depeche Mode - I always could take or leave this band. I haven't listened to them since I was in high school, but heard that they were fairly decent live. I only hung out for about 30 minutes, and didn't recognize any of the songs. I just couldn't get into it.
Would I see this band again: No
Kings of Leon: Being bored at DM, I moved over to the other headliner. I had never really listened to them before, save once or twice when they came on the radio. In contrast to DM where I didn't know the music, this crowd had a lot more energy. I also felt like I was the oldest person there, but the crowd was fun and energetic, so I had fun to. I enjoyed the music enough to go out and purchase Aha Shake Heartbreak.
Would I see this band again: Yes.
Day 2 - Saturday
Rain is gone, and it's 20 degrees warmer. Awesome. I'd prefer if the whole festival was 75 and cloudy, but I'll take 90 and humid over the rain ANYDAY.
Ezra Furman & The Harpoons: I love this kid. I think he smokes entirely way too much pot, but his music features complex lyrics with a pop-folky beat. First time I saw him live. I found that he played his music at a slightly slower tempo than his recordings. I would have prefered that it was faster, but it was still a ton of fun.
Would I see this band again: Yes!
Delta Spirit: I hadn't intended to see this band, I was just camping out to get a good spot for Los Campesinos! later. Most of the bands that I was just hanging out at I won't be reviewing, but I liked their CCR style rock blended with soulful vocals. An unexpected surprise.
Would I see this band again: Yes
Los Campesinos! - It's always fun to see one of your favorite bands in a setting like this. First off, it was nice that they were here instead of an all ages club. It makes me feel good that I'm not the only person over 30 who likes their music. I think the vocals sounded excellent on the outdoor stage (their ADD spazzy nature sometimes makes them sound muffled in the 500 person clubs). At the same time, you lose some of the intricacies of the Glockenspiel in an outdoor stage, so it's a give and take. I love that Tom acknowledged that their set was designed to please the masses - when you are playing a festival with 75k people there, this is how it should be. This is your golden opportunity to appeal to as many people as possible. But that doesn't mean long time fans weren't rewarded - we heard both The International Tweexcore Underground and We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives. Very nice.
Would I see this band again: Yes, as long as they don't keep booking at the perfectly horrible Logan Auditorium in Chicago. Come back to Empty Bottle, please!!!!
Arctic Monkeys - I was really looking forward to this band, and I just can't tell you why I was disappointed. I am absolutely entranced by their Live at the Apollo DVD, so I think I came in with an expectation of what they would be like live. I am not sure how to describe why I'm disappointed, because the music sounded fine and the crowd was way into it. I guess I felt they lacked any real charm or charisma up on stage. Too bad
Would I see this band again: No
Santigold - she was about 5-10 minutes late on stage, which in a festival like Lolla is not cool. Everything is scheduled so close to each other that we have to make choices on what to see. Being late is never respectful to your crowd, but normally 5-10 minutes isn't a big deal. At a festival, it means I had to leave Arctic Monkeys during the last song to get over to see her. However, her kickass performance made up for it. The crowd was wild! Smelled a little sweet too! Words do not exist that can describe how FUCKING COOL this show was. The dancers, the music, her incredible voice, the crowd. This was not only my favorite show of the day, but the ENTIRE festival!
Would I see this band again: YES! When? Where?
I was running over to Rise Against when I decided I needed to make a non-porta potty rest stop. I left the park for 1 hour. Came back in and caught the end of Animal Collective. Not a fan of them before, the 20 minutes of the show won't change that.
Tool - Where are all the douchebags? Oh, they are right here, watching tool. Can't believe how many people were standing around me and talking and not even paying attention to the show. Why stick around then? Go to a bar. But Tool could have helped matters by playing Sober. When you play to the masses, you have to try to compete for their attention. Tool sounded good, but I'll admit, I only really like Undertow, so I wouldn't have chosen this particular set list. Awesome light and video show.
Day 3 - Sunday
Hot and muggy. But it's dry! I'm happy.
Alberta Cross - I was very impressed with the 11:30/11:45 acts on the first 2 days. This band, I really didn't intend to see, but I got to the park early and decided it was too hot to camp out for Ra Ra Riot. I only have heard one or two songs by these guys before, and had no opinion going in. I can honestly say I left with no opinion either. There is a very slight country twang to the vocals that I wasn't digging.
Would I see this band again: Unlikely
Ra Ra Riot - Why is it everytime I see these guys, it is hotter than hell? Holy crap... Anyhow, no surprises here. This band is beautiful. The strings just pop when you see them live. My only complaint - they only played 45 minutes. I realize they may not have 60 minutes worth of music, but then maybe they should have been scheduled differently? You've got a captive audience, most of whom will never bother to see you again. This is your opportunity to show people what you are all about.
Would I see this band again: Yes, hopefully indoors next time.
I lucked out and found an awesome place for my blanked off to the east side of the 2016 stage that had a little bit of shade. I was able to see, but not watch, Bat for Lashes and Dan Deacon
Airborne Toxic Event - this is another one of those downtime acts. I had never heard them before. I was off on the side, so I didn't get any of the crowd energy. The music was fun for a hot afternoon. I may pick up their CD.
Would I see this band again: Possibly
Vampire Weekend: Awesome. I said earlier that I want a live band to sound superior to their recording - Vampire weekend achieved this. The crowd was fun, the setlist perfect. The only gripe - the bass drum on the 2016 stage was miked too heavily all weekend. For most bands, it wasn't such a big deal, but on bands like Ra Ra Riot and Vampire Weekend, it was noticable. They handled it like pros though.
Would I see this band again:: You bet!
Passion Pit - left Vampire Weekend 15 minutes early to catch the last 45 minutes of this set. Damn schedule overlaps. The scheduling was done before Manners came out, so I doubt they expected the crowd to be this big. Passion Pit could have easily handled the Playstation or Vitaminwater stages at the same time. The crowd was enormous and so, so, so fun. The best part was this coldfront came across and hovered over us, which encouraged more dancing. Oh, and smaller stage = less security = more crowd surfing. This was the best act of Day 3.
Lou Reed - oh my god. So bad. So, so, so bad. I skipped Deerhunter for this? I want those 90 minutes back. OK, he's over 15 minutes late. Real dick move, since people had to chose between 3 really strong choices. Then he plays like 4 songs, doesn't even know the words, and starts to create feedback for the next 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the scheduled end of their set comes, and Band of Horses comes out the next stage over. At this point, Lou decides to stop playing feedback, plays a couple more songs, and basically blast Band of Horses off stage. This starts a chain reaction....
Would I see this band again: Not if you paid me. Lou, do yourself a favor AND RETIRE.
Band of Horses: These guys got screwed, pure and simple. They were totally disrespected by Lou. I was really looking forward to this set, but after the bullshit by Mr. Reed, I was really not in the mood to move down to their stage. I enjoyed what I listened to from afar. They should have shortened their set, but then again, why should they? They want to please their fanbase. Anyhow, they kept playing after Jane's Addiction came on stage, which is also pretty disrespectful, considering that Jane's Addiction is the headliner. I doubt that Perry invites them back, but if he does, they should tell him to fuck off.
Would I see this band again: Yes, as long as Lou Reed is not opening. They got shafted and deserve a fair shake.
Jane's Addiction: Not much for me to say here. The first 15-20 minutes I couldn't hear since Band of Horses was still playing. When I could hear, I found the band to be excellent, but Perry sounded high. After he decided to start talking about whores vs. sluts and how easy it is for him to get laid in the middle of Been Caught Stealing, I had had enough and decided to get out and beat the traffic home.
Would I see this band again: No. Perry is a jerkoff.