Lollapalooza 2005 went out
with a whimper instead of a bang on Sunday. Or, given the festival-closing
2-1/2-hour performance by the absurdly self-indulgent jam band Widespread
Panic, I should say "with a burst of flatulence."
founder, co-owner and wiggy emcee Perry Farrell introduced the Georgia
sextet, he claimed it was the first band organizers sought for the
reinvented festival, as well as "the best outdoor music band" today.
No offense to the
legions of self-described "Spreadheads," but Widespread Panic is one of the
worst albeit best-drawing groups on the current scene, failing to achieve
the soul of great Southern rock or the invention of inspired jamming. Its
members should have been arrested by Chicago police for slaughtering Bill
Withers' R&B classic "Use Me."
For great Southern rock,
the Panic boys could have taken some cues from the Drive-By Truckers, who
rose to the occasion of playing to such a large audience (Sunday attendance
matched Saturday's at 33,000) by capturing the same intensity of a
small-club gig at the Hideout.
1. Ork-popsters the Arcade Fire.
2. Texas prog-rock punks ...And You Will Know Us by the
Trail of Dead.
3. English glam-popsters the Kaiser Chiefs.
4. The incendiary rapper Saul Williams.
5. Sex-crazed glam-popsters Louis XIV.
1. Jammers Widespread Panic.
2. Widespread Panic (they performed twice).
3. Living relic Billy Idol.
4. The now sadly soulless Liz Phair.
5. The Changes (I should correct Monday's report: These
Chicago popsters did not win the battle of the bands; they were
inexplicably booked on their own merits, which completely
In comparison, the
penultimate marquee act, Las Vegas' much-hyped Killers, was stiff and
contrived while delivering its designed-to-be-radio-friendly glam-rock. But
Texas art-rockers Spoon, who can be spotty in concert, were both looser and
more fiery than I've ever seen them.
Lollapalooza to launch his new space-funk band with former Extreme shredder
Nuno Bettencourt and No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal. But Satellite Party was
only about half as strong as his last group Porno for Pyros, which was half
as strong as his original band Jane's Addiction. That means Perry is one
quarter the artist he used to be, but he's certainly gotten better as a
By far the best act of
the day, the Montreal ork-pop band the Arcade Fire added a rhythmic
intensity to the beautiful, melodic and sometimes fragile songs of its
acclaimed debut "Funeral," adding a power the album only hints at.
To recap my Lollapalooza
experience, I managed to see at least half the sets of 25 out of the 39 acts
performing on the four main stages -- and I have the blisters on my feet to
(I also need to make one
addition to the list of suggestions to promoters for improving Lollapalooza
next year: Don't give Beatle Bob an all-access pass. The middle-aged
mop-topped go-go dancer, as ubiquitous throughout this festival as he is at
many across the country, is just plain annoying. Besides, in Chicago we have
our own Thax Douglas.)