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By Andy Argyrakis
Weekend Report: Lollapalooza melts Midwest
Friday, August 3, 2007
The summer of 2007 is loaded with festivals, though Chicago takes the cake across America with the highest quantity of prominent performances within the shortest amount of time. First there was the annual Bluesfest (spearheaded by a tribute to the legendary Howlin' Wolf), followed by Pitchfork Music Festival (led by Yoko Ono) and last weekend's Crossroads Guitar Festival (the brainchild of Eric Clapton). Yet the streak continues with the biggest of the bunch via Lollapalooza, the marathon weekend event that's endured (despite the tour's cancellation just a few years ago).
Though the 2007 line-up isn't exactly the strongest in its history (especially when the early years brought together original incarnations of Jane's Addiction, Rage Against the Machine and Smashing Pumpkins), there are still several key acts within the extensive roster. Pearl Jam leads the list as this year's headliner (wrapping up the weekend Sunday), and while some would argue the grunge rockers are really no big deal these days, this show marks the band's only American appearance of the year. However more buzz surrounds Daft Punk's dance oriented set on Friday, especially given the fact that the "One More Time" and "Robot Rock" masked men rarely tour. Saturday by far boasts the strongest overall line-up, though the final slot of the night is a heartbreaking split between Muse and Interpol (meaning faithful fans of both will either have to run back and fourth across the gargantuan Grant Park or skip half the action).
Other highlights include the always incendiary Iggy Pop & the Stooges, the enduring punk spirit of Patti Smith, Perry Farrell's latest project Satellite Party, jammers Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, plus Modest Mouse with its newest member Johnny Marr. Relative newcomers include the constantly talked about Amy Winehouse (but will she be worth it?), quirky keyboard crooner Regina Spektor and club favorites LCD Soundsystem. For a full roster rundown (including set times) or ticket information, log onto www.lollapalooza.com.
The Cliks conquer, Franti announces festival
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Canada's The Cliks made major waves in its homeland since 2004, but a recent slot on the True Colors Tour alongside Cyndi Lauper, Erasure, Debbie Harry, The Gossip and many more helped launch the band to even greater international heights. Given the gay rights platform of the tour, the group's leader Lucas Silveira has grown increasingly vocal about being transgender, with a recent Associated Press article scoring coverage by an astounding 63,000 outlets across the globe. But regardless of orientation (or opinions over the revealing article), the band's new Snakehouse (Tommy Boy/Silver Label) merges the worlds of The Pretenders and the delightfully androgynous days of David Bowie.
Taking cues from Moby's Area Tour circuit of the early 2000s comes Michael Franti's Up! Festival. Despite not sharing the same musical styles as the world's favorite bald headed vegan DJ, the leader of Spearhead also boasts a similar vision of breaking down genre walls and exploring various aspects of creativity. Besides sets from troubadour Ben Lee, along with rising indie rockers Blue King Brown and Old Man River, the outing features mixed media and art displays, plus fans are welcome to bring cameras and recording devices (and are even encouraged to share the results online). The event winds through a half dozen Australian venues, kicking off at Challenge Stadium in Perth on September 14.
Nashville rockers Paper Rival released a self-titled EP this month on Photo Finish Records and hits the road starting August 4 at Shelter in Detroit supporting Manchester Orchestra and Colour Revolt. The tour wraps August 26 at Mohawk Place in Buffalo with Ace Enders (formerly of The Early November). Speaking of band's with other name associations, Paper Rival was previously known as Keating, though the switch hasn't seemed to pose a problem thus far. Purevolume recently featured its latest moniker (and music) for three weeks, landing at number three for the sight's overall music spins from that time period.
VHS or Beta presses play, June's August party
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
After helping pioneer the latest wave of dance doused punk, VHS or Beta continues its creative streak with the August 28 release Bring On The Comets (Astralwerks). The disc marks the Kentucky-based band's second official full-length and comes under the production direction of Brandon Mason (David Bowie, Secret Machines), though special guests also include members of My Morning Jacket. The gang plays Great Scott in Allston, MA on street date, officially launching an extensive tour that winds through late September.
The band's name may be June, but August is turning out to be a key month in its history. Aside from releasing the sophomore CD Make It Blur (Victory) on August 7, the pure bred indie poppers also launch the Make Party Cool Tour with The Graduate and The Higher. Expect a Foo Fighters-inspired sound with mounds of hooks, along with the occasional club flourishes, plus production by Marc McClusky (Hit the Lights, Powerspace). The disc's lead single "I'd Lose Myself" also features video direction by veteran Major Lightner, known for a diverse spread including Hawthorne Heights, Asobi Seksu and Norah Jones.
Troubadour Ben Jelen released his sophomore CD ex-sensitive (Custard) last month, but follows up the momentum with an opening slot on Pete Yorn's summer tour. The relative newcomer draws from a wealth of rootsy influences, carried out under the direction of label head Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes front woman turned Courtney Love / Gwen Stefani collaborator), along with occasional mixing accompaniment from Bill Bottrell (Tom Petty, Rosanne Cash). Outside of a recent Bonnaroo performance, Jelen also earned prominence within various Amnesty International and Rock The Vote events, plus Live For Darfur.
Street Date: Common on CD, Bowie combo box
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Rapper/hip-hop hero Common rose up from the streets of Chicago to become one of America's pre-eminent urban talents. He's released several benchmark projects over the years including 2005's Be (Geffen), which benefited from friend Kayne West. That collaborator again returns on Finding Forever (Geffen), most notably the track "Southside," which finds the pair trading rhymes and raps. Lily Allen also guests on "Drivin' Me Wild" while "The Game" features DJ Premier. Aside from West's seat in the producer's chair, other behind the boards talents include Will.I.Am and Devo Springsteen.
The 1980s may not have been the most critically lauded period of David Bowie's career, but they did breed immense commercial success. Though several of his albums from that era often suffered from dated production, his concerts remained vital and always lived up to his avant-garde star power and chameleon-like personality. On the newly reissued DVD and double disc set of the Glass Spider Tour (Virgin), he turns to hits from the time period such as "Let's Dance," "Blue Jean" and "Modern Love," though also includes classic chestnuts "Heroes," "Young Americans" and his signature hat tip to the Velvet Underground come "White Light/White Heat." On a random side note, Peter Frampton serves as guest guitarist, which is unquestionably his most credible musical accomplishment to date (though still not enough to cover up the curly mullet album cover or the disgraceful "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" film flop).
As the Family Values Tour continues to gain momentum, Korn is hoping to blow some additional wind in its sails (and stagnant sales) with today's generically named Untitled (Virgin). The heavy handed collection releases as a standard thirteen track disc or a deluxe edition with a bonus track, DVD, fold out poster, postcards and t-shirt redemption coupon. Expect this summer's set lists to revolve around the album, alongside fellow tour mates Evanescence, Flyleaf and many more from the hard rock underground.
Kings with Motorcycle Club, Stones scandal
Monday, July 30, 2007
An August through October tour of America was recently announced pairing southern streaked rock n' blues band Kings of Leon with brooding garage rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The Tennessee-based Kings just released Because of the Times (RCA), a chart topper in the U.K. and New Zealand that's also been its fastest selling U.S. release to date. BRMC is riding high off the current Baby 81 (RCA), known for the top five college radio smash "Weapon of Choice" and the grand "American X," which popped up in the series finale for HBO's "The Sopranos."
The Rolling Stones continue to rack up headlines on its never ending tour in support of A Bigger Bang (Virgin), though rather than glowing concert reviews, it's often been about date cancellations or high priced tickets. The latter category takes center spotlight once again, this time regarding a July 17 concert in Bucharest, Romania due to several fan complaints spearheaded by a famous athlete. International tennis star Ilie Nastase and his wife are leading the uproar after paying roughly 250 euro for VIP seats that the couple and countless others considered to be inadequate. Aside from become overridden by standing fans, there was also limited drink availability according to attendees, who despite the band's lengthy performance, still couldn't get no "Satisfaction."
Former member of Ultravox and The Buggles Hans Zimmer has switched hats from being an early new wave pioneer to composer of soundtrack scores. The switch hitter last struck gold with music in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (featuring a cameo from the Stones' Keith Richards) and now the "Simpsons Movie," which has been this summer's breakaway blockbuster. Outside of his band being the first video played on MTV ("Video Killed the Radio Star"), Zimmer's resume includes three Grammy Awards, an Oscar and Tony.
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