Best of Lollapalooza 2012, day one: Afghan Whigs, Die Antwoord, and more

Categories: Lollapalooza

Photo by Erik Hess
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The first of three days of music in the hot cauldron of Grant Park in Chicago is now one for the history books. Black Sabbath (or at least three-quarters of them) got back together, M83 lit up the skies and our hearts, and the lines at the water stations got as long as the list of broken hearts that Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli has in his diary.

From our tight-knit team of writers, here are capsules of some of the best musical moments of Lollapalooza's Friday entertainment.

Perry's Stage
Young DJ/producer Madeon follows in a long line of French dance royalty, but his early singles and remixes feel like a far cry from the bulldozing house cuts that got fired off in rapid succession. The 17-year-old globetrotter retains some key aspects of his forebears (big piano chords and disco loops come to mind), but slathers on so much distorted bass that listening felt like grabbing gold out of a mudslide. It was a decent set for such a new star on the DJ circuit, though not pushing directly to full throttle, which seems like it would have been far better. -- Ian Traas

The Afghan Whigs
Red Bull Soundstage
The Afghan Whigs' performance was literally hotter than the mid-afternoon heat. When you have an mood curator like Greg Dulli, the banter to get us started is "How you doing, Grant Park? How you doing, Grant Hart? Is he here?" Dressed in all black, but with all-white amplifiers, the Ohio soul punk troupe dealt stabbingly (and occasionally cello-enhanced) great songs primarily from Black Love, Gentlemen, and 1966. Don't worry, "Miles Iz Ded" too. Add to that an steely blue version of Frank Ocean's "LoveCrimes," a recent revamp of "See and Don't See" by Marie Queenie Lyons, and the opening verse from Prince's "Little Red Corvette" got dropped into the middle of "Somethin' Hot." Suddenly, a hay fever-ish field felt like a smoke-filled ballroom with a velvet curtain hanging behind the stage. All of this was intense while Dulli wore sunglasses, but when he took them off and started making eye contact -- whoa, brother. -- Reed Fischer
Photo by Reed Fischer
Here's Greg Dulli doing a post-game interview.

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
Perry's Stage
Despite an early slot at Perry's dance area (and a cartoonish name) Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs turned in one of Day 1's best sets. The project of UK musician Orlando Higginbottom, TEED has been a recurring name in top-end remixes, but it's new album Trouble that deserves the most attention. A collection of alternately dreamy and grinding house music, Trouble has something for dance music enthusiasts of every stripe. The crowd at Perry's had a huge response to tracks like "American Dream Pt II" and "Shimmer," but it was the melancholy "Tapes & Money" that deserves the most praise, striking just the right balance between bass bounce and longing vocals. Plus, the frilly dino outfit was nothing short of bold for such hot weather. -- Ian Traas
Photo by Erik Hess
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs at the SPIN pre-party.
Die Antwoord
Playstation Stage
Out of context, Die Antwoord are probably pretty awful. It's '90s revivalist rave-rap complete with gold chains, Vanilla Ice haircuts and patterned outfits that would make Keith Haring flinch, and it sounds like Alvin & the Chipmunks collaborating with Snow. But at its heart, the music is incredibly well produced, has a sense of humor and, most importantly somehow sounds like the future. The South African duo of Yo-Landi Vi$$er and partner Ninja live and breathe the tongue-in-cheek "Zef" culture they describe as "poor but fancy" and proved it in front of thousands of rabid 20-somethings at Lolla on Friday afternoon. With cult hits "I Fink You Freaky", "Enter The Ninja" and unfortunately catchy new single "XPNSIV SH!T", Die Antwoord had one of the most enthused crowds of the day, at a few points Yo-Landi spraying water all over the photographers in the pit. Their alias directly translating as "The Answer," that's certainly what they were for a sluggishly hot day at the fest. -- Jen Boyles

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