Live Review: Old Folks at Lollapaloozaby Mitch Goldman
Columbia River Gorge, Washington
Yes, Geri and I made the two hour-plus trek to eastern Washington to the fabulous (Columbia River) Gorge. Lots of heat, but a venue to rival Red Rocks...beautiful views of the Columbia river tributary, just an awesome sight as we sat towards the back of the lawn and watched the main stage. Heat came and went, as some cloud cover gave us much needed breaks from the sun. We found out that George is actually in the desert!!
After waiting on line to get in, we settled on the lawn towards the end of Pyschotica...I have no opinions, but it sounded pretty annoying.
Screaming Trees came on at 2:50 and just rocked. Josh, from Kyuss, played great rhythm guitar, and the Connor brothers were just fat enough to see. I know Mark Lanegan was just standing there doing nothing, but you couldn't really see him doing nothing. They played their first show in three years to a hometown crowd, as Ellensburg where they grew up is 25 miles from the Gorge.
Next up were the Shaolin Monks. I have no idea why these guys are booked on the main stage; it doesn't play past the tenth row. Kung Fu stuff you can't see narrated by a cheesy announcer who sounded like he was making fun of the Monks. I think this is on the bill to make Lollapalooza look "eclectic." All it really does is shut down the momentum from Screaming Trees.
Rancid came next but we left the main lawn to find water and shade, so we *heard* but didn't see the first handful of tunes (basically retread of early 80's ska-punk, pretty un-noteworthy).
We hiked over to the second stage a little after five to see Seattle rock gods the Melvins. Second stage area was packed with fans, and as usual, Buzz, Dale and Mark took us on a bizzarre sonic trip into left field. Opening with "Revolve" they fooled us into thinking this would be a straightforward set...but somewhere during "Skweetis" things got seriously strange. Rather than playing this two minute song the way they usually do, it went on for a loooonnng time, finally segueing into something slow and weird (maybe made up on the spot?) which then led into...the slowest version of the old Fleetwood Mac chestnut "Green Manalishi" you've ever heard, before resolving into "Antioxidote" from the Eggnog EP (I swear you never know *what* these guys will play from show to show). As always, the Melvins killed. And as usual, all songs segued together....
More water then back to the main stage for the Ramones, already in progress (we missed the first ten minutes or so). They sounded great, but I wish we'd seen the whole thing (though I ain't missin' the Melvins for anybody dammit!). We came in on "Sedated" so I have no idea what came before, but I'm sure at least five or six tunes...
DEVO was up next, and they didn't disappoint. This was something I thought I'd never see...Mark has stated he would NEVER reform DEVO, but like the Eagles...;-) Mark, Jerry, Bob's 1 and 2 and an unnamed drummer came out in yellow jumpsuits and played impeccably the whole set (except for Mark blowing the best verse during the climax of "Gates of Steel"....oh well!). It's amazing they could come together after 8 years for five shows and sound this great, as if they've never stopped. There weren't really any promised theatrics, though they did change into dark suits in the middle section of "Jocko Homo" (and Mark sang the rarely performed "O-HI-O!" part in the bridge of "jocko"). They did a cute little dance together during the climax of "Uncontrollable Urge." "smart patrol/mr dna" was a real highlight, hitting a throbbing, evil sound that was amazing (and those overlapping vocals were perfect). How often to you get to chant lines like "suburban robots that monitor reality" at a big festival? It was a totally cool moment. The setlist was totally taken from their first three albums and contained most of their best tunes from that, their most fertile era:
Up next was Soundgarden, who played fine but had a crappy mix that marred their set (and frankly, I've seen them better...reports of their Lollapalooza sets being a bit subpar might be true). This certainly didn't hold a candle to the Superunknown shows of two years ago. And they only did two songs off the new cd, but they did do a very cool cover of the Doors' "Waiting for the Sun." "Outshined" was a highlight...it was HEAVY....as was "Jesus Christ pose."
As the sun set we waited for Metallica (and tried to navigate our ways back to our spot on the lawn from the bathroom, no mean feat!). The boyz in black (Jaymz in a white shirt for the first half, actually!) came out and reminded us *why* we were there all day. They played an amazing set, tight yet loose, everyone but Lars jumping all over the stage, Jaymz in a great mood the whole set. The new tunes sounded great, the old tunes sounded classic. Can't wait for the arena tour.... :-) Cool fireworks shot into the sky during the "Fade to Black" intro ... and "Fade" as always moved the crowd (another "lighter" song). Lollapalooza is supposed to be a great combination of bands, but Metallica is that rare band that makes every other part of the day fade in your memory. They are, no question, the best hard rock band on the planet.
Master of Puppets->