Before any band even begins playing, Saturday is off to a promising start. Overcast skies and lower temperatures are a welcome relief from the heat, and the hand-sanitizer dispensers have actually been refilled. Boy-girl Brooklyn synth-pop duo Matt and Kim are equally enthused. Neither can believe the size of the stage or the throng of people awaiting them. “Look how my boobs look up there. That is so not to size!” exclaims drummer Kim Schifino upon seeing her body up on the projection screen. Her partner, keyboardist Matt Johnson, is downright giddy. Their pastel tunes belong in a basement, not on a bandshell, though that doesn’t prevent “Grand” and “Yea Yeah” from registering cute-factor points. Later, Matt & Kim pull double duty, subbing for the cancelled CSS.
Tokyo Police Clu also express shock at attracting a decent crowd. Sonically, the Toronto quartet doesn’t stay in the same place for too long, and its approach borders on train-wreck looseness, yet somehow everything gels. The group punctuates its hectic garage-cum-indie rock with red-throat yelps and spiky bursts of sound. A few fans wave Canadian flags as keyboardist Graham Wright flails about and tambourines fly through the air during a forty-five-minute set that lives up to the hype.
Speaking of expectations, 2006 buzz band Tapes ‘n Tapes take the stage next, and despite similarities between the two acts — herky-jerky motions, disjointed new-wave synthesizers, staggered tempos — the Minneapolis foursome is far artier. Maybe the group is distracted by the wafting pot smoke, but they threaten their set’s momentum with an overabundance of pauses and tempo changes.
A few stages away, Silverchair is performing in the area for the first time in recent memory. Shirtless and sporting a headband, leader Daniel Johns embraces his inner rock star. The stadium-directed anthems are proudly populist and carried by falsetto vocals. Thanks to the band’s ringing chords, basic structures, showy solos and wishful sentiments (“The Greatest View”) for an hour, it’s 1996 — or 1976, for that matter — all over again. It helps that nearby Stephen Marley is winding up his set with interpretations of three of his father’s classics: “Iron Lion Zion,” “Jammin'” and “Could You Be Loved?”
A bit later, fans are standing around wondering if Rhymefest is here. His eight-piece band has been standing at the ready for more than fifteen minutes. The Chicago MC finally emerges and lays into “Dynomite” with assured command. Leaning to and fro with pipe-cleaner flexibility, he humorously demonstrates three dance moves: the bird, the purple rain and the dice roll. Rhymefest’s common-sense raps engage the largely hometown crowd, which eats up every word. Anchored by a four-piece horn section, the on-the-fly performance turns into a soul revue. Tribute is paid to skating rinks and smooth R&B, and “I Came Home” is a jazz-peppered sing-along.
Nearby, the Cold War Kids are victims of poor planning. So many people are trying to see them that traffic jams and insufficient amplification issues ensue. No matter. “Hang Me Up to Dry” threatens to snap, and the quartet’s atmospheric rock shoots cathartic sparks. As their set ends, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s time slot begins with the band’s jogging beats, nasally vocals and jittery electronics. Singer Alec Ounsworth quietly whispers directions to the weirdly silly Simon-says foot-stomper “Satan Said Dance.” But lyrics are secondary to the clicking rhythms, which prove irresistible. Feeding off the tambourine bells’ clang, Ounsworth can barely prevent his helium-soaked cries from floating away.
More Lollapalooza coverage is on the way! Check out updated show reports, photo galleries and video throughout the weekend on RollingStone.com.