No Depression at Lolla Day 3
All photos Margaret A. Moore/No Depression
It’s 2:30 and the temperature in downtown Chicago is 97. There’s a dude in shorts and knee-high tube socks. He’s eating shell fish from a paper plate. At his feet is a woman sprawled out on the cement. A boyfriend is down on one knee on one side of her. An EMS technician on one knee on the other. Both are taking turns sponging her brow with wet towels. One at a time they look up over their shoulder for a sign of back up that has surely been called. Shellfish dude finishes his lunch and tosses the plate into a green barrel.
Music aside, gigantic festivals are a mixed bag.
All of this happens in front of a side stage featuring a band of young guns from Kentucky. Cage the Elephant stars Matt and Brad Shultz who lived the Rolling Stone profile before they even read Rolling Stone. Their parents were hippies who became born again Christians in Kentucky which some would say is redundant. Pop music was forbidden as they grew into adolescence, an adolescence that included a tragedy but in their case was a happy mixed blessing. Their parents got divorced.
Like in most split households the rules get fuzzy. Fast. The rule against music went out the window. Enter influences like the Yardbirds, Iggy, and The Animals.
I like Cage the Elephant because they’re a perfect counter punch to the other popular Kentucky band, My Morning Jacket. Before the Shultz brothers are done they’ll refasten punk ‘s tie to rock and in the process tear the cardigan right off the Kurt Cobain legacy.
Mid afternoon the BMI stage features Priscilla Renae and her band, up from Atlanta. Just 20 years old, Reneae is newly signed to Capitol Records. He new record comes out in the fall and according to her producer/keyboardist Blaq Smurph she hadn’t even recorded a song as of a year ago.
A complex drum announcement precedes Renae’s appearance on the stage and then bam. There she is. As if she popped out of a cake. A big gold bow fastens around the waist of her hoody dress, trimmed at the mini-style bottom by a pink tutu fringe. Gold combat boots. “I’ll never be made of plastic,” she taunts. “My heart is not made of elastic,” she sings in “Dollhouse.”
“Worker Bees” will come on crazy in her debut Capitol record and she throws it down with glee here. With help from Blaq Smurph’s keyboards, the song glides between Philadelphia soul and Burt Bacharach. Best surprise of the day.
If the Strokes took Thomas Dolby on a European vacation, they’d bring back Denmark’s The Raveonettes. Dynamics are this band’s friend because there isn’t a chorus in sight. It works. It’s no accident Bow Wow Wow comes to mind. They hired “I Want Candy” song writer (and Go Gos and Blondie’s forst record producer) Richard Gottehrer to produce their own breakout album, ” Chain Gang of Love.”
The idea that you can walk 100 meters from Sharin Foo and the Raveonettes over to hear Neko Case proves what an across the smorgasbord ordeal Lollapalooza is. Despite the heat and some angry clouds overhead, Neko Case was enjoying the last night of her summer tour and really let her hair down.
“Thank you for your friskiness,” she says after the first number, then sprirals into “Maybe Sparrow.”
And the scene from Neko’s perspective.
It’s a long walk to Vampire Weekend but worth it. Along the way…what’s the friggin’ deal with hoola hoops already? Festivals and hula hoops. Fad? Like gladiator sandals?
The festival, all 130 bands of it, is pulling up at the curb as I write this. Snoop Dog is right in front of me rhyming to “Na Na Na Na Goodbye.” The crowd is absolutely pulling muscles.