After being revived in a corner of Chicago's Grant Park during summer 2005's hottest weekend, a bulked-up, stretched-out and literally cooler Lollapalooza unfurled itself upon the city's front lawn to host thick crowds for three mildly muggy days of heavily marketed music. Like sports stadiums, the nine stages took their names from corporate sponsors, and festival founder Perry Farrell — a brand unto himself — seemed to pop up everywhere.
Friday kicked off as underage spitfire Lady Sovereign stalked the stage with a beer in hand and delivered some properly choppy rhymes over monstrous bass. But straightforward rock ruled the day as Jack White and his cohorts in The Raconteurs showcased some rugged chops. Their swagger during an astounding cover of “Crazy” even made Gnarls Barkley's version seem a bit tame.
Day two started off on a lackluster note as Sa-Ra spit rhymes over canned beats while grinding with back-up singers. But Gnarls Barkley picked up the afternoon, taking the stage dressed in their Wimbledon tennis whites. The band unloaded the goods, stretching out loose soul and funk for an enormous crowd.
Performing on a stage facing his home skyline, Common embodied energy, throwing abundant freestyles among purposeful renditions of his newer material. Across the park, The Flaming Lips held court with an unusual display of extravagant effects and finely crafted noise. The party spirit from the Lips carried over for Thievery Corporation. Backed by a large band and a seemingly endless stream of vocalists, they delivered with a welcome set of bass-laden grooves. Microphone issues marred Kanye West's homecoming show, but the crowd didn't seem to mind as he and guests delivered the hits. At the other end of the park, Manu Chao and his phenomenal band made a much smaller crowd lose their heads to polyglot Latin/reggae/dance/rock concoctions.
On Sunday, Andrew Bird crafted hazy atmospheric folk while playing several instruments simultaneously. Before introducing Mixmaster Mike's fine side-stage set, the ubiquitous Farrell toasted the crowd with champagne while singing along to the unimpressive debut song from his band Satellite Party. She Wants Revenge sounded surprisingly vibrant for a band with such a moody sound. And with so many Canadians on the lineup, Broken Social Scene ruled them all with a huge band and abundant talent for both delicate and raucous noise.