Lollapalooza Day 3 Roundup: Alt-J Eases Into the Groove

Alt-J at Lollapalooza
As Tegan and Sara’s packed Lollapalooza set at the Red Bull Sound Select Stage came to an end, a buzz was building towards the adjacent Lake Shore Stage, where Alt-J was performing at 5 p.m.

The English band took advantage of that buzz with their brand of experimental rock and captivated a huge crowd that was ready to groove.

Early on, Alt-J tabbed their lead single “Tessellate,” which is full of jagged beats and haunting piano, not to mention a sultry self-awareness.  And while that song might not have made it onto mainstream radio, it was certainly well received by most people watching in Chicago’s Grant Park.

Alt-J at Lollapalooza“Tessellate,” however, is more of a black-light groover than something like “Dissolve Me,” which was played shortly afterwards. With a fist-pumping rhythm to it, “Dissolve Me” started a few dance circles among the Windy City audience.

Finally, just before Alt-J pulled out the bass-dropping “Fitzpleasure” five tracks into their setlist, frontman Joe Newman addressed the crowd.

While it was just a mere, “Hello,” the gesture was welcomed by loud cheers.  Those cheers were furthered when Newman later noted that he couldn’t have expected such a crowd like the one that showed up on Sunday.

Alt-J, who won the prestigious British Mercury Prize last year, essentially touched on each of the tracks from their 2012 debut album An Awesome Wave. Included in that classification is a massive singalong during “Breezeblocks” and “Ms.”

The band closed with the dark and stormy “Taro,” which featured a hard rock-inspired jam that helped ease the sun’s descent below the horizon.

“Hope you enjoy the rest of the festival,” Newman told everyone.

Judging by the way the crowd moved to each deep harmony and exhilarating tempo change, Al-J was a big part of that enjoyment.

Jake Bugg at Lollapalooza

Some might call the U.K’s Jake Bugg a guitar prodigy, considering the fact that he is only 19 years old.  But judging by his performance Sunday at Lollapalooza, “guitarist” might be the best classification.

During his Sunday afternoon set on the Petrillo stage, Bugg showed that he has the range to be an acoustic strummer, a gritty bluesman and a rockabilly heart throb in the same show.

Bugg is already working on his second studio album and has been active among the summer music festivals around the world.  A talented songwriter, Bugg seems to draw on personal experiences with his lyrics.

“One Friday night, I took a pill or maybe two,” he sings in “Seen It All,” recalling a night gone awry. Or, he tackles the topic of love in a song like “Simple as This.”  Even further, Bugg talks about teenage rebellion in “Lightning Bolt.”

Bugg chilled out his show for a bit with a solid cover of Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue),” but it was his own heartfelt lyrics and searing guitar work that made his set a winner.

Beach House at Lollapalooza

Baltimore’s Beach House was featured on the Lake Shore Stage as the sun went down, which frontwoman  Victoria Legrand noted a few songs into their show by saying, “Alright, we’re going to pretend it’s dark out. Let’s go.”

Legrand’s request makes sense for a band that is so ethereal that it is the perfect music to listen to under the stars.  Her sultry voice weaves the listener in and out of a dream-like state while guitarist Alex Scally picks his spots to wake people up with his guitar.

As far as a stage presentation goes, Scally sits in a chair for much of the show, getting up on a few occasions to talk to Legrand in between songs.  And the band – which also adds a live drummer while touring – had twinkling stars on their backdrop and dressed in all black.

Drawing on their last two albums Teen Dream and Bloom, Beach House were a solid way to welcome nightfall.


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