Lollapalooza ’09: Been Caught Stealing

August 10th, 2009: As seen on Archive (PDF)

If there’s anything quantifiable about Perry Farrell and the evolution of Lollapalooza is that the dude, and the festival, is destined for a crown in weirdness. Even if it was his point from the get-go in ’91, disguised as a farewell tour for Jane’s Addiction. But much like the many young hearts that jumped the perimeters of Grant Park, lightning-bolting through a concrete jungle of tunage and smiles for the glory of a free ticket, Lolla ’09 cruised the continuing frontier of rock and festival with several moments of bliss.

Dan Deacon, otherwise known for his basement hipster dance parties, caught a supreme chance to entertain crowd control on the large stage, in the throws of the afternoon heat.  Commanding a horn section in the teens, while fiddling his signature Atari-esque knobs, capped with a dancing hot dog, the quirky twee-synth star led a pied-piper session in the loss of inhibitions. Tell me the last time you saw a forty-year-old man leapfrog over girl in her twenties…while wearing an inner tube…when the song is about a dog.

The following Passion Pit set was a little more straightforward, lead singer Michael Angelakos showering his unpolished soul yelp in fits of bubble and pop dancetronics, kids climbing up in trees to shake and rustle during “I’ve Got Your Number.”  Angelakos staggered between the monitor, staring deep in the heart of the crowd, while they backed him up with a hopping “Whoa!” in unison come the part where he tells us that love’s what he needs to work at.

It was a sad moment to leave, but the Black Keys’ singer and pick-up monster, Dan Auerbach, was assembling his solo project on the other side of the park.  I’m still confused why there was so much space to breathe come stage-time, especially with Lou Reed on deck following their set.  But the reward was top-notch, Auerbach rolling up like the Conor Oberst of blues, decked in threads found along the Texas/Mexico border, complete with the new of addition of My Morning Jacket beatman, Patrick Hallahan, in full poncho.  The only disappointing part was that they only had one record to work with.

As Saturday nightfall ushered in a Northside cluster of too many good bands in one spot, Sunday’s Lou Reed bill drew the masses, but the former Velvet Underground leader was placid as ever, opening with “Sweet Jane” completely expressionless.  If it wasn’t for a 10-minute DJ distortion assault, Reed droning all the way back to his VU glory days, it would have been a spoon-fed teaser of hits, capped with “A Walk On The Wild Side.”

But good old Farrell chimed in, waving his freak flag, as the last hours hit, slinging a string of cryptic questions towards the crowd about being naked on Saturday, and whether or not anyone had been to bed yet, in the then-third day of the fest.  Or my personal favorite, “What the fuck is this?  80,000 punk rockers?  What the fuck?” He quickly quieted himself and went into the requisite “Jane Says” and “Three Days,” though.  And come “Been Caught Stealing,” it all made sense as part of the nation that spawned alternative.  And if you didn’t dig it, Farrell did set it up so you could go rock out to The Killers.

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