Saturday, August 4, 2007

Friday at Lollapalooza

Irony does not seem to function in an outdoor concert setting. I'm pretty sure that when Kurt Cobain wrote Lithium, the opening lyrics of "I'm so happy…" is not to be taken at face value. But when the Polyphonic Spree gets the crowd in a huge sing-along, Lithium becomes a feel-good anthem. The camera focuses on Tim Delaughter moving among the audience and singing, "I'm so ugly, but that's okay, so are you," then zooms in on a guy getting a pat on the head while the lyrics are sung to him and it's a big crowd pleaser with this guy truly ecstatic that the joke was on him.

I noted this last year when Sleater/Kinney sang Modern Girl and everyone sang the "My whole life is a like a picture of a sunny day" line. So a song about limits of materialism becomes a festival feel-good song. Not that I minded it either time.

After a hot and muggy day, the sun slips behind the skyscrapers in the west just in time for the 7:30 show of LCD Soundsystem. The area around stage fills up quickly with people who just got off of work and are ready to dance off any traces of the workweek. James Murphy (who has serious bed hair) and the band play an intense set. In between songs, Murphy has droll monologues: “I never know what to say in between songs. What can I say? ‘Are You Ready?’ Never could understand why performers ask that. You are all obviously ready, waiting for the next song. What do you have to be ready for? It’s the band that needs to be ready. And we’re not, so I have to say stuff like this.”

The set reaches its peak during a red hot version of "All My Friends." The song's ending refrain of "Where are your friends tonight?" which has always seemed a twist of a knife now becomes a joyous shout. Our friends are here tonight and we're all dancing our asses off.

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