ChicagoVerseUniteD: Chicago Scene Salvation

New CVU Interview: Kyle Gilkeson And Dan Crytser (Kanye Wes Anderson)

Posted in Kanye West by Jaime Black on October 24th, 2012

As of late, a fantastic Tumblr site has been making the rounds online, garnering coverage from the likes of Huffington Post and E! Online. Entitled Kanye Wes Anderson, the site brilliantly mashes up the words of Kanye West with the visuals of acclaimed filmmaker Wes Anderson (or sometimes vice-versa). Given that the site has roots in Chicago, CVU approached the team behind the Tumblr for an interview about the concept’s beginnings, ambitions, and more.

KWA

CVU: Who are you? Feel free to provide some background on yourself/your team.
Kanye Wes Anderson: Kanye Wes is run by Kyle Gilkeson, a writer/editor, and Dan Crytser, a graduate mathematics student.

CVU: Where did the idea for Kanye Wes Anderson come from?
KWA: We live in separate cities, so we frequently Gchat. Usually there’s a lot of stupid wordplay involved. One day in August we were talking about how Axe deodorant names like Vetiver and Bergamot sounded like pets in Wes Anderson films. Somehow that mutated into the name and basic concept behind “Kanye Wes.”

CVU: It’s safe to assume you’re a huge Kanye West fan, then? Ditto Wes Anderson?
KWA: We definitely like Kanye West’s music and Wes Anderson’s films. The blog probably wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t have a general understanding and interest in both.

CVU: Why do you think Kanye West is so meme-worthy? The Tracy Morgan tweets meme comes to mind.
KWA: Kanye is arguably the most popular contemporary musician in the world. It doesn’t hurt that he says outlandish things.

KWA

CVU: It looks like the Tumblr is catching on fairly quickly. Were you expecting such an immediate response?
KWA: We knew it had potential. We had never done anything like it before, so we just kind of waited. The site was sort of slowly chugging along for a month or two, but around October 19th, it reached a tipping point. That’s when a lot of bigger outlets started covering it. In retrospect, it was good timing, because it gave us a chance to populate the site with a decent amount of content.

CVU: Do you have any end goal with this, other than amusing/amazing Tumblr content? Are you hoping to hear from Kanye?
KWA: Ideally it will make us more famous than Kanye West and Wes Anderson combined. Seriously, though, just like every other little boy in America, we dreamed of being covered by E! Online. Mission accomplished.

KWA

Kids These Days Preview ‘Traphouse Rock’ With “Flashing Lights”

Posted in Kanye West,Kids These Days by Jaime Black on June 21st, 2012

KTD

Hometown rising stars Kids These Days have posted the first cut from their long talked about Traphouse Rock full length, set to drop in September. Check out a stream of the Kanye West-influenced “Flashing Lights” via the video player below, followed by a download field for the track.

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Kanye West & G.O.O.D. Music SXSW Showcase Clips Post, CVU Reviews The Show

Posted in Kanye West,SXSW,SXSW 2011 by Jaime Black on July 13th, 2011

Kanye West

Earlier this year, CVU attended the Kanye West and friends-headlined G.O.O.D. Music event at the Seaholm Power Plant in Austin, TX that shut down SXSW 2011. Now, a series of high quality clips from that event have posted online at the official Vevo site. Watch three performances from Mr. West and friends below, including “H.A.M.” with Jay-Z, followed by a reposting of CVU’s first hand account of the entire event!

Kanye West
Seaholm Power, Austin, TX
Saturday, March 19, 2011

As a festival, SXSW is no stranger to secret or delayed announcement shows from big name acts. Foo Fighters performed a hush-hush concert at Stubbs this year, for example. But such an event seems commonplace next to the fantastic announcement that Kanye West would be performing at a decommissioned power plant at the conclusion of this year’s festival. Not surprisingly, Mr. West had to one up the entire week’s worth of music, with an event featuring a night of both once in a lifetime performances and unbelievably amateur hour execution.

Starting Off & Getting In

When word went out that The Louis Vuitton Don would be closing out SXSW 2011 at Seaholm Power, a once functional power plant, the question of how to gain entry become at the forefront of conversation. A production of the VEVO music video company, the event was obviously going to be in high demand. To handle announcements and the distrubtion of information, the company launched the Yo VEVO! Twitter account, which soon kicked off a text-for-entry campaign that during its course brought about no shortage of confusion and frustration. The service specialized in delivering a series of “Text now for entry!” type messages only to follow up seconds later with taunting texts essentially declaring “Too slow! Locked out!” Also revealed was entry for the first thousand SXSW badge-holders. With the text winners notified and the badge holder hopefuls aware of the numbers game, determined attempted attendees began lining up hours in advance of, if not the night before, the big event.

The Day Of

The majority of of the day Saturday, little instruction or information came to those standing in line. Some were told their text confirmations granted them a plus one, others were told otherwise. Most guessed-at information came via hired event security, as opposed to official VEVO staff or representatives. By late evening, the ever-growing line was restless and still almost entirely in the dark about the official count of who would gain entry and how. Around 11 p.m., instruction came to line up for entry, but no one on the official side seemed sure how to actually handle letting the assembly inside the property gates. Hired hands carried gate pieces back and forth in a meaningless busy work exercises, while perplexed and stressed looking suits and higher ups huddled up for a meeting visible from the line, as the clock ticked down towards the supposed 11:59 event start time. When one event official possibly suffering from a strained voice tried addressing the crowd and stating that he didn’t spend four months of his life on the event not to let people in, it came as a pitying admittance before an increasingly tense and restless crowd. To the would-be attendees credit, no riot broke out, though the stress in the air was palpable. Finally, organizers began the entry process, initially and amazingly checking each phone for confirmation texts, in perhaps the slowest and most non-efficient method possible for mass admittance. Meanwhile, a portion of the barrier was lifted to allow those with badges in, in no paticular order, as organizers ignoring the line all day had allowed it to morph into what can best be described as a civil but on edge collective more than any sort of single file separations. Those who made it inside then graduated to another group of separate lines, for VIPs, text winners, and badge holders, respectively. To the right of the line, behind a chain link fence, confused wanderers continuously reached the gated grounds and tried hopping over onto venue grounds. As this journalist entered the gates, I asked a worker at the badges line how the event was proceeding so far. Without ever meeting my gaze, she continuously scanned the area around her before simply whispering, “Chaos.”

But What About Inside?

As a venue, Seaholm Power is unique and massive. It’s essentially a long and wide hallway with a stage at the back and stories-high ceilings, not unlike a hanger. On one side of the building are the remnants of its days as a working power plant, all staircases and piping, like an industrial themed nightclub, but with the actual history behind it. Just before 1 a.m., as those allowed in made their way towards the front of the venue, the event official who earlier addressed the crowd outside took to the stage to deliver a lengthy string of thanks to those who made the event possible like some sort of misguided acceptance speech before oddly reiterating that the event cost him four months of his life. Throughout the statements, the official’s mic continually cut out. It wouldn’t be the last technical error of the night.

I Fantasized About This Back In Chicago

At 2:30 a.m., following opening performances from Mos Def and Kid Cudi, Kanye West took the stage, kicking off his set with “Dark Fantasy.” It proved a fitting selection, as much of the evening’s set would stem from the Chicago rapper’s late 2010 effort My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. What made Saturday night’s set unique, in addition to the venue, was that West was joined by a grouping of his Twisted Fantasy collaborators, including, but not limited to, Pusha T, John Legend, and even Jay-Z. The impressive guest roster helped lock in that this actually was an important show, whereas so many other hyped showcases are regular sets that just happen to take place during SXSW. It also allowed West to deliver many of Twisted Fantasy‘s better and more cameo-laden cuts in ways closer or nearly identical to their recorded incarnations.

Throughout the late night event, blocks of songs were often grouped together around the evening’s various guests. John Legend’s soulful croon both aided “Christian Dior Denim Flow” and enhanced “Blame Game,” with his chorus vocals and keys boosting the latter before West delivered the track’s spoken interlude awash in violet light. Similarly emotive was Twisted Fantasy‘s epic offering “Runaway,” which featured Pusha T coming out to deliver his verse in advance of the song’s choruses becoming increasingly vulnerable and vocoded. Though West’s words became consistently more distorted as the song went on, the pained message expressed was unmistakably decipherable.

Significantly harder were West’s collaborations with none other than Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z. The pair joined forces for a searing version of their recent collaborative single “H.A.M.” that proved to be nothing short of a slaughter. It also set the tone for the mentor and protégé teaming up for the vicious version of “Monster,” with HOV ripping into his contributions to the track. By comparison, Jay contributing to Fantasy track ”So Appalled” felt less essential, though performances of the rapper’s solo cuts “Public Service Announcement” and the especially celebrated “Big Pimpin’” more than made up for it.

The evening’s most remarkable performances would end up coming later in the set. One such instance was Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon passionately delivering digitized soul to “Lost In The World,” as beat-heavy breakdowns played out behind his and West’s vocals. Easily the most transcendent moment of the event, however, came in a full marching band joining West onstage for Fantasy standout “All Of The Lights.” Adding a tremendous live instrumentation element and emphasizing the song’s inherent power and emotion, the additional musicians elevated an already exceptional track to nothing less than an awe-inspiring live performance.

Outside of special guest collaborations and cameos, it was clear that the evening belonged to Kanye West. From smiling before “Gorgeous” to writhing on the edge of the stage and screaming at the crowd to put their hands up over the machine gun beat of “Hell Of A Life,” West’s moods and mannerisms were at the forefront of the evening’s selections. The Chicago MC even hammed for fan cameras off to the side of the stage during the otherwise mean and sneering “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Between breaks in his set, West alternated outfits, switching from a black shades and leather jacket dominated look to all red attire and back again.

The show encountered a few bumps throughout, like the artist needing to restart “Gorgeous,” and tracks playing over each other at the start of recent hit “Power,” prompting the rapper to leave the stage for a moment before returning to deliver the hard hitting single. Yet despite production flubs at such a high profile event, West remained in high spirits throughout the set, playing to the crowd and devoting the entirety of his energy to his performance. It was a testament to not letting the obstacles of the event-and there were many-get in the way of fully embracing an evening of legitimately rare live collaborations and impassioned performances. In a night where the show’s organizers did their best to come off across as amateurs, Kanye West reaffirmed that he’s anything but.

-Jaime Black

Preview Of Kanye West G.O.O.D. Music SXSW Event Posts In Advance Of Full Concert

Posted in Jay-Z,Kanye West,SXSW,SXSW 2011 by Jaime Black on July 8th, 2011

Kanye West

A teaser has posted online in advance of Kanye West‘s G.O.O.D. Music event from this year’s SXSW hitting the web. The concert will post via Vevo on Tuesday, July 12th, but a firsthand CVU review of the event can be read here. Click through below for a snippet of ‘Ye and Jay-Z‘s “H.A.M.,” and look for more from the event as it posts.

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Patrick Stump Covers “All Of The Lights” In New Video From Schubas Show

Posted in Kanye West,Patrick Stump by Jaime Black on May 30th, 2011

Patrick Stump
(Photo via Matt Ellis)

Rolling Stone has posted a live clip of Patrick Stump and his band covering Kanye West‘s “All Of The Lights,” filmed at one of the artist’s two hometown shows at Schubas earlier this spring. Read the CVU review of the first event of that two night stand, and watch the live performance video below.

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Less Seizure-Inducing Video For Kanye West’s “All Of The Lights” Hits The Web

Posted in Kanye West by Jaime Black on March 30th, 2011

Simpsons Seizures

Following the artist’s festival-closing SXSW set earlier this month (full event review here), a newly “revised” video for Kanye West‘s “All Of The Lights” video has been posted online. The most noticeable difference being this version seems to be less seizure-inducing? Watch the clip below and weigh in in the comments on any other new edits and/or additions.

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SXSW Live Review: Kanye West & Friends @ Seaholm Power

Kanye West
Seaholm Power, Austin, TX
Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kanye West
No one man should have all that power plant.

As a festival, SXSW is no stranger to secret or delayed announcement shows from big name acts. Foo Fighters performed a hush-hush concert at Stubbs this year, for example. But such an event seems commonplace next to the fantastic announcement that Kanye West would be performing at a decommissioned power plant at the conclusion of this year’s festival. Not surprisingly, Mr. West had to one up the entire week’s worth of music, with an event featuring a night of both once in a lifetime performances and unbelievably amateur hour execution.

Starting Off & Getting In

When word went out that The Louis Vuitton Don would be closing out SXSW 2011 at Seaholm Power, a once functional power plant, the question of how to gain entry become at the forefront of conversation. A production of the VEVO music video company, the event was obviously going to be in high demand. To handle announcements and the distrubtion of information, the company launched the Yo VEVO! Twitter account, which soon kicked off a text-for-entry campaign that during its course brought about no shortage of confusion and frustration. The service specialized in delivering a series of “Text now for entry!” type messages only to follow up seconds later with taunting texts essentially declaring “Too slow! Locked out!” Also revealed was entry for the first thousand SXSW badge-holders. With the text winners notified and the badge holder hopefuls aware of the numbers game, determined attempted attendees began lining up hours in advance of, if not the night before, the big event.

The Day Of

The majority of of the day Saturday, little instruction or information came to those standing in line. Some were told their text confirmations granted them a plus one, others were told otherwise. Most guessed-at information came via hired event security, as opposed to official VEVO staff or representatives. By late evening, the ever-growing line was restless and still almost entirely in the dark about the official count of who would gain entry and how. Around 11 p.m., instruction came to line up for entry, but no one on the official side seemed sure how to actually handle letting the assembly inside the property gates. Hired hands carried gate pieces back and forth in a meaningless busy work exercises, while perplexed and stressed looking suits and higher ups huddled up for a meeting visible from the line, as the clock ticked down towards the supposed 11:59 event start time. When one event official possibly suffering from a strained voice tried addressing the crowd and stating that he didn’t spend four months of his life on the event not to let people in, it came as a pitying admittance before an increasingly tense and restless crowd. To the would-be attendees credit, no riot broke out, though the stress in the air was palpable. Finally, organizers began the entry process, initially and amazingly checking each phone for confirmation texts, in perhaps the slowest and most non-efficient method possible for mass admittance. Meanwhile, a portion of the barrier was lifted to allow those with badges in, in no paticular order, as organizers ignoring the line all day had allowed it to morph into what can best be described as a civil but on edge collective more than any sort of single file separations. Those who made it inside then graduated to another group of separate lines, for VIPs, text winners, and badge holders, respectively. To the right of the line, behind a chain link fence, confused wanderers continuously reached the gated grounds and tried hopping over onto venue grounds. As this journalist entered the gates, I asked a worker at the badges line how the event was proceeding so far. Without ever meeting my gaze, she continuously scanned the area around her before simply whispering, “Chaos.”

But What About Inside?

As a venue, Seaholm Power is unique and massive. It’s essentially a long and wide hallway with a stage at the back and stories-high ceilings, not unlike a hanger. On one side of the building are the remnants of its days as a working power plant, all staircases and piping, like an industrial themed nightclub, but with the actual history behind it. Just before 1 a.m., as those allowed in made their way towards the front of the venue, the event official who earlier addressed the crowd outside took to the stage to deliver a lengthy string of thanks to those who made the event possible like some sort of misguided acceptance speech before oddly reiterating that the event cost him four months of his life. Throughout the statements, the official’s mic continually cut out. It wouldn’t be the last technical error of the night.

I Fantasized About This Back In Chicago

At 2:30 a.m., following opening performances from Mos Def and Kid Cudi, Kanye West took the stage, kicking off his set with “Dark Fantasy.” It proved a fitting selection, as much of the evening’s set would stem from the Chicago rapper’s late 2010 effort My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. What made Saturday night’s set unique, in addition to the venue, was that West was joined by a grouping of his Twisted Fantasy collaborators, including, but not limited to, Pusha T, John Legend, and even Jay-Z. The impressive guest roster helped lock in that this actually was an important show, whereas so many other hyped showcases are regular sets that just happen to take place during SXSW. It also allowed West to deliver many of Twisted Fantasy‘s better and more cameo-laden cuts in ways closer or nearly identical to their recorded incarnations.

Throughout the late night event, blocks of songs were often grouped together around the evening’s various guests. John Legend’s soulful croon both aided “Christian Dior Denim Flow” and enhanced “Blame Game,” with his chorus vocals and keys boosting the latter before West delivered the track’s spoken interlude awash in violet light. Similarly emotive was Twisted Fantasy‘s epic offering “Runaway,” which featured Pusha T coming out to deliver his verse in advance of the song’s choruses becoming increasingly vulnerable and vocoded. Though West’s words became consistently more distorted as the song went on, the pained message expressed was unmistakably decipherable.

Significantly harder were West’s collaborations with none other than Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z. The pair joined forces for a searing version of their recent collaborative single “H.A.M.” that proved to be nothing short of a slaughter. It also set the tone for the mentor and protégé teaming up for the vicious version of “Monster,” with HOV ripping into his contributions to the track. By comparison, Jay contributing to Fantasy track ”So Appalled” felt less essential, though performances of the rapper’s solo cuts “Public Service Announcement” and the especially celebrated “Big Pimpin’” more than made up for it.

The evening’s most remarkable performances would end up coming later in the set. One such instance was Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon passionately delivering digitized soul to “Lost In The World,” as beat-heavy breakdowns played out behind his and West’s vocals. Easily the most transcendent moment of the event, however, came in a full marching band joining West onstage for Fantasy standout “All Of The Lights.” Adding a tremendous live instrumentation element and emphasizing the song’s inherent power and emotion, the additional musicians elevated an already exceptional track to nothing less than an awe-inspiring live performance.

Outside of special guest collaborations and cameos, it was clear that the evening belonged to Kanye West. From smiling before “Gorgeous” to writhing on the edge of the stage and screaming at the crowd to put their hands up over the machine gun beat of “Hell Of A Life,” West’s moods and mannerisms were at the forefront of the evening’s selections. The Chicago MC even hammed for fan cameras off to the side of the stage during the otherwise mean and sneering “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Between breaks in his set, West alternated outfits, switching from a black shades and leather jacket dominated look to all red attire and back again.

The show encountered a few bumps throughout, like the artist needing to restart “Gorgeous,” and tracks playing over each other at the start of recent hit “Power,” prompting the rapper to leave the stage for a moment before returning to deliver the hard hitting single. Yet despite production flubs at such a high profile event, West remained in high spirits throughout the set, playing to the crowd and devoting the entirety of his energy to his performance. It was a testament to not letting the obstacles of the event-and there were many-get in the way of fully embracing an evening of legitimately rare live collaborations and impassioned performances. In a night where the show’s organizers did their best to come off across as amateurs, Kanye West reaffirmed that he’s anything but.

-Jaime Black

Across The Chicagoverse 02/20/11: City States, Carbon Tigers, Kanye West, & More!

Because no one outlet can cover the entire Chicago music landscape, here’s what the premier talent tastemakers across the Chicagoverse and beyond have been up to lately.

TSOF

-Tonight at 9PM on Q101‘s Local 101Chris Payne interviews members of The Streets On Fire (above), Comasoft, and The Felix Culpa!


Tonight on @Local101: @PayneQ101 interviews The Streets On Fire (@zstreetsonfire), @Comasoft, & @theFelixCulpa! 9PM on Q101
@Local101
Local 101

-Heave Media recently featured a Flosstradmus remix of the song “Equestrian” by U.S. Royalty. Listen to the DJ duo’s upbeat treatment here.

-Following his interview last week with Do312, Kill Hannah frontman Mat Devine has opened up to AOL Video (via Popeater) about his role in the Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark musical.

-Loud Loop Press has posted a sparse and minimalist electronic cover of The Police‘s “King Of Pain” as performed by local indie act City States. Hear that here.

-Tireless live music documentarians Secret Note Shows recently uploaded a set of live clips from CVU regulars An Aesthetic Anaesthetic. Watch those here.

-Columbia College‘s AEMMP Records continues its video interview series, this time talking with Carbon Tigers. Watch that at the label’s site.

-Check out live audio and video from Secret Colours up now at Couch House Sounds.

-The vinyl release of A Lull‘s forthcoming debut full length Confetti, set to drop April 12th, is now available for pre-order through the Lujo Records Merch Online store.

-Vocalo program Music Vox, hosted by Jesse Menendez, saw a wealth of local talent as guests this past week, as evidenced in the tweet below.


-Chicago Mixtape has announced a launch party happening March 5th at Subterranean. The event will feature performances from acts like Jonny Rumble, Ornery Little Darlings, and more.

-And finally, Fake Shore Drive was easily one of the first sites on the web to post Kanye West‘s new video for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy standout track “All Of The Lights.” For anyone who has yet to catch it, watch the clip below.

Lollapalooza Live Review 2008

Lollapalooza
Grant Park, Chicago
Friday, August 1 — Sunday, August 3, 2008

From Illinois Entertainer Dot Com

lolla_entrance_web.jpg 

It takes a certain type of person to do the whole three-day festival thing. The lines, the prices, the sun . . . the portable toilets. It’s not easy, or always fun. Lucky for IE we have Andy Argyrakis, Jamie De’Medici, and Timothy Hiatt, who volunteered to battle the sweltering summer heat and moshing mad Rage Against The Machine crowd to provide the words and pictures (click here for the entire gallery) of Lolla 2008.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 1 

The Black Keys
Offering their own take on blues-punk, The Black Keys moved through a loose and laid back set, full of messy guitar jamming and fast but fine-tuned drumming. While it would be hard to classify the outfit as stadium rock, the group’s sound did translate surprisingly well into the wide open Grant Park air. Moods alternated between songs, from the playful and hooky “10 A.M. Automatic” to the more ominous, like on “Strange Times,” with the band holding their own on a day distractingly full of talent.

Bloc Party
On record, Bloc Party have always been inconsistent. For every engaging moment, there are a dozen more that seem little more than filler. So it’s not surprising that onstage, Bloc Party were primarily and inoffensively inconsistent. The unassuming “Waiting For The 7:18″ served as a perfect complement for the late atmosphere, with drummer Matt Tong elevating the song beyond its fey recorded ballad form. And the early single “Banquet” still holds up as a strong indicator of the group’s potential for melodic, well crafted U.K. rock. Unfortunately, for every dynamic and engrossing performance the group delivered, they waded through a handful more that served as little more than background noise. With a 20-minute set, Bloc Party would have been brilliant.

CSS
Brazil’s CSS, or Cansei de Ser Sexy, stood as one of Lollapalooza’s most playful acts. Led by living cartoon character Lovefoxxx, the outfit delivered a series of irreverent electro-bangers and straight up girl-led brat-rawk. Tunes like the synthy “Let’s Reggae All Night” and iPod anthem “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex” demonstrated the group’s palpable energy, which spread through a packed crowd that showed up to dance in spite of the overbearing afternoon heat. While it would be hard to claim CSS’ music holds any sort of substance, by being irreverent and not taking themselves too seriously, the group also ended up as one of the day’s most enjoyable acts. Coincidence?

Radiohead

Unfortunately, a fun and playful vibe was nowhere to be found at the south end of Grant Park that night. Perhaps the most disappointing, underwhelming, and puzzling set came from Friday night headliners Radiohead. With no other talent closing out the north end of the festival, the day’s collective attendees flocked to the AT&T stage, forming a sea of bodies that extended back from the base of the stage. It was a mass decision that made sense; the last time Radiohead touched down in Grant Park was in 2001, for a legendary performance those who witnessed still discuss in revered tones.

Yet the Radiohead that visited seven years back was nowhere to be found. Instead, the group that showed up played as though they were afraid to wake the neighbors. The evening’s quietest songs barely reached to the end of the crowd, with “Fake Plastic Trees” nearly drowned out by mid-set fireworks. While the band played fairly competently — if not quietly, Thom Yorke sounded bored, disinterested, and distracted (reports were he was ill). It didn’t help the group moved through all of its sleepiest songs, which asked the question — didn’t Radiohead use to have songs that weren’t this medicated? Even more frenetic fare such as “Paranoid Android” came off weaker than usual, with what little energy it managed to display coming across as too little, too late. Or, as Thom’s own words, Radiohead themselves set off “no alarms” with “no surprises,” leaving a crowd wishing “that something would happen.”

SATURDAY, AUGUST 2

The Gutter Twins
Saturday afternoon, Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan came out for their Gutter Twins project, unleashing dark and moody rock that came off livelier than when the group played Metro this past spring. Case in point, the roaring “Idle Hands” was a beast unleashed on the unsuspecting and casual midday concertgoers, and would not be the last example of music that seemed surprised to find itself in the daylight. Not surprisingly, the group moved between the pair’s numerous outfits, including Dulli bringing out Twilight Singers highlight “Bonnie Brae.” It seemed appropriate Dulli and Lanegan would find themselves at Lollapalooza, as both are weathered veterans of the original alternative nation, and are likely to still be performing after many of the weekend’s blog-hit hype groups have faded from collective memory.

GT

MGMT
On the opposite end of the veteran spectrum, on a stage not far away, came MGMT, a band that just this year began receiving any real attention. The group delivered a set full of new-alt that switched between jangly and surprisingly psychedelic moods. Live, an undeniable love of classic rock shone through in the group’s performance — full of swirling melodies and freeform jamming grooves. That was on top of the hipster-pleasing electro-tinge the band dipped so well into, apparent on the well-recieved “Time To Pretend” and twanging bass-driven “Electric Feel.” The real highlight of the set, however, came on “Kids,” also the high point of the outfit’s Oracular Spectacular. Unleashing Satriani-esque(?!) guitar solos that shredded throughout the extended jam, the song devolved by its end with the band banging randomly on their keyboards and smearing messy, chaotic licks and effects across their sound. As much unpredictable and startling as anything else, it seemed MGMT, as well as anyone there, understood the spirit behind Lollapalooza, which made their set a stand-out amongst everything louder than everything else.

Brand New
Nowhere near as celebratory was Brand New, veterans of the Warped genre and renowned for basically being total downers. Which is in no way a hindrance, rather it’s easily one of the group’s primary drawing points. Not unlike the Gutter Twins before them, most Brand New material seemed almost laughably out of place floating out in the sunny mid-afternoon field of happy concert-goers. Fortunately, that did little to hinder the somber and sobering tone of favorites like “Millstone” and the remarkable pinnacle of depression “Jesus Christ.” Elsewhere, “Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t” amped the energy of the group’s set, and “Sig Transit Gloria” better demonstrated the group’s more punk tendencies. It had to be “Sowing Season (Yeah),” however, that best bridged both sides of Brand New — the group’s morose tone with their larger, arena punk pop sensibilities. In a weekend full of dance-prompting, synth-laden feel-good acts, it was refreshing to have a group so entirely embrace a darker aesthetic.

Lupe Fiasco
Taking a cue from his mentor Kanye, Lupe Fiasco demonstrated a flair for the theatric right from the get-go — coming out to the Rocky theme, and doing a few minutes worth of stretches and even jumping jacks onstage, to prepare himself for his lively and high-energy set. However, unlike his notorious teacher, Fiasco demonstrated his sense of class and showmanship in a more mature, and far less ego-driven, manner. Likewise, Fiasco made his constant motion seem natural — no small feat in front of such a mass crowd. Delivering crowd-pleasers like his introductory hit, “Kick, Push,” and the anthemic “Superstar,” Fiasco easily won over the assembled early evening crowd. Very much the son of the Chicago hip-hop scene, Fiasco unleashed the speed-rapping of Twista (”Go Go Gadget Flow”), while displaying the showmanship of Kanye and drawing upon the depth of Common.

Wilco
While Rage Against The Machine fans were raging against the festival’s fences and proving ’90s reunion acts can still inspire ’90s-esque destructive crowds, Wilco were across the park, performing a very different — and Obama-free — type of set.

Onstage, Wilco weren’t necessarily miles away from Radiohead, in terms of producing more mellow and mature alt-rock. Yet, unlike Radiohead, Wilco not only managed to project beyond a 20-foot scope, the group did so interestingly and memorably. “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” might have been a bit tender, but it connected with the well-behaved crowd, as did “Impossible Germany.” “Handshake Drugs” built its soulful energy and victorious spirit into a wall of noise and feedback by its end, and “Pot Kettle Black” still stands as one of Wilco’s most enjoyable and unassumingly infectious accomplishments. Wilco may have mellowed with age, but, unlike certain other alternative icon headliners from this past weekend, they refuse to sleepwalk through their show. 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 3

Kid Sister
Early in the day Sunday, Chicago rising star Kid Sister braved the brutal heat with Flosstradamus (with J2K on vocals and Autobot on the decks). Kid Sis bounded through an energetic set that was all dance moves and ridiculous banter. Despite her forthcoming debut,Dream Date, not dropping yet, she debuted new and unheard material, alongside better known blog and club hits like the undeniable “Control” and the infamous “Pro Nails,” the latter of which featured back-up dancers in Salt-N-Pepa-esque outfits.

The Whigs
The attention Athens, Georgia’s The Whigs have received derives from an indie-tastic brand of power-pop. Thankfully, the group avoid the negative connotations that usually accompany such descriptions, with the band never coming off too jangly or twee. Rather, they ripped through intense and echo-laden numbers, such as “Like A Vibration,” which was enhanced in no small part by frenzied but focused drummer Julian Dorio. And “Right Hand On My Heart” found a hypnotic groove and went with it. It’s debatable whether The Whigs will end up being the next indie saviors to come out of R.E.M.’s hometown. But they’re certainly off to an auspicious start.

Black Kids
While the group showed promise and raised intrigue with theirWizard Of Ahhhs EP, onstage, Black Kids delivered little to no surprises. Playing through a safe and straightforward set, the group delivered a few moments of passion here and there, with some half-hearted attempts at stage banter, but ultimately, delivered little that was memorable, dangerous, or otherwise noteworthy. Thankfully, the next act up would more than make up for it.

Saul Williams
Saul Williams is a cross-genre amalgam, mixed with a style-triapsing anomaly, to put it simply. Drawing from his Trent Reznor-produced The Inevitable Rise And Liberation Of NiggyTardust!, Williams held the attention of a rapt and captive audience. It wasn’t hard to understand why — the man himself was outfitted in yellow jeans, a teal shirt, a face-painted eye mask, and feathers on his head. It seemed fitting enough though, given Williams’ music is at once confusing, intriguing, and altogether puzzling. Yet it was perhaps Williams who best encapsulated everything Lollapalooza was originally about — dangerous, confusing, and impossible to classify. Williams gave the crowd something to think about while still being entertaining, no easy feat, as too many acts on the weekend’s bill did neither. In a better world, he would’ve ended up alongside Nine Inch Nails, instead of a sidenote, when he has already far surpassed Reznor’s modern works. 

Nine Inch Nails
It seems a safe assumption to guess Trent Reznor arranged it so his band would take the stage following recently reformed goth forefathers Love And Rockets. It’s also fitting, seeing as Nine Inch Nails themselves are reaching a certain level of elder status. The group are also racing toward the alternative genre’s ever-expanding harmless and inessential list, alongside the reformed Smashing Pumpkins and the puzzlingly still active Pearl Jam. Whereas the band were once dangerous, later albums like With TeethYear Zero, and The Slip have confirmed NIN’s music is at its most remarkable when Reznor is at his most self-destructive. The muscle-rock of The Slip — which came out early in tracks like “1,000,000″ and “Letting You” — is inconsequential when delivered alongside more ferocious fare like selections fromBroken (”Gave Up”) and The Downward Spiral (”March Of The Pigs”). And while age hasn’t softened the brutal impact of Nine Inch Nails’ classic efforts, it has softened Reznor himself. As his studio albums devolve into masturbatory exercises in soulless and efficient studio mastery, fans will no doubt become more and more grateful Reznor and his hired guns still dip into an accomplished back catalog. (JD)

 

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Kanye West
One of the festival’s biggest surprises came during one of the festival’s biggest performances. Native Chicagoan Kanye West turned in a surprisingly classy set uncharacteristically free of any sort of tantrums or drama. (Maybe Fiasco taught his teacher something in return.) Rather, West focused his attention towards the city he loves, the parent he lost, and talking up his favorite person in the whole wide world. (One guess who that is).

Never one for subtlety, West’s set featured a blindingly lit stage that, aside from some backing singers and sparse instrumentation, mainly served to showcase West himself. Naturally, the performance featured many of the hometown hero’s best known hits, including “Gold Digger,” “Jesus Walks,” “Flashing Lights,” and a powerful and engaging rendition of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Yet one of the evening’s most captivating moments came from West delving into a song not featured on any of his records.

Instead, West delved into a lengthy solo version of Young Jeezy’s “Put On,” a track West cameos on for Jeezy’s forthcoming The Recession. The song perhaps best summed ‘Ye up, in his view of his impact on Chicago, (”We put this city on the map / I put this city on my back”), as well as the larger scope, referring to the set as “History in the making.” Most notable about “Put On,” however, was West utilizing the song as a tribute to his late mother, Donda West, who died last fall from cosmetic surgery complications. Recalling his mother first bringing him to Chicago, as well as revealing an early South Side address (7915 South Shore Dr., for inquiring stalkers), West lamented playing to a crowd of “100,000″ people that was missing its one most crucial member. It was a sentiment West would revisit towards the end of his set, in the simplistic and heartfelt “Hey Mama.” Given that West has moved further away from being a real person over recent years, it was refreshing to witness him expressing actual emotion to the crowd. Pity it took an event like this to make it happen.

Of course, that’s not to say ‘Ye was entirely modest throughout his show. All tributes and dedications to his late mother aside, West still indulged in his trademark self-indulgant boastings. In a rant that, depending on where you’re sitting, is either ridiculously amusing or startlingly blasphemous, West compared himself to no less than James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and John Lennon. But then — at a festival that took excessive heat, attendance, and scope to new levels — would any lesser claims have sufficed? (JD)