Like The Killers the night before, Mumford & Sons’ inoffensive style is something many people can get behind. Their 2009 debut, Sigh No More, was a slow burn, but their 2012 follow-up, Babel, debuted at No. 1 and gained them an Album of the Year GRAMMY. Whether you like it or not, Mumford is the most commercially successful rock band in America at the moment. And their stage show reflects that.
The guys play all the hits, from “I Will Wait” to “Little Lion Man” to “Roll Away Your Stone.” All of this was done in front of a panel of lights that though not as sophisticated as Nine Inch Nails’ the night before, look like they’re tailor-made for an arena show. The band also threw in a few ballads like “Lover’s Eyes” before tackling a very quiet version of Bruce Springsteen’s 1985 song “I’m On Fire” that had the guys surrounding one mic.
Before the band was even done with their set, they were asking to be invited back. Ben Lovett let the bigwigs at Lollapalooza know they were more than willing to play again anytime.
“Also, Ted’s alive,” Mumford interrupted as the camera panned to the bassist, Ted Dwane, who seemed to get a kick out of the comment. This was only the band’s second show since Dwane underwent surgery for a brain clot. The band was forced to cancel its headlining slot at Bonnaroo back in June because of the surgery, so it seems as though the fans were especially enthusiastic about Dwane’s swift recovery, even if most of them couldn’t actually see the stage.
With their encore of “The Cave,” which turned the show into a hoedown of sorts, we’re pretty sure Lolla is going to take them up on their offer for a return appearance. – Shannon Carlin
THE POSTAL SERVICE IS MAKE-OUT MUSIC?
You kind of know what you’re in for when you see a band that only has one album. That said, bands with such brief discographies don’t usually score headliner status at America’s biggest music festivals. Neither Coachella nor the sold-out arenas have seemed to mind that the Postal Service clearly s t r e t c h things out, tacking jams on the end of songs and playing some covers (Beat Happening’s “Our Secret” being a set highlight). Though clearly not as mind-numbingly massive as Mumford’s, the electropop duo’s Lollapalooza crowd didn’t seem to mind the leisurely pace of things throughout the 16-song set. Maybe it was because a lot of them were in straight-up couple land, slow dancing and stealing kisses. Sure, tour guest Jenny Lewis and Postal Service frontman Ben Gibbard have chemistry onstage and Gibbard sings wistfully about love, but seriously, when did the Postal Service become make-out music? Somebody get these folks a Sade CD or at least the new Rhye album.
Getting back to Gibbard and Lewis, they really do get along well onstage, moving between instruments and showing off dance moves they awkwardly orchestrated before the tour kicked off. The Give Up songs are electronically-driven but they have soul; it’s hard not to jitter a little and shake it to “Clark Gable” and the latter half of “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” live. That’s the thing the Postal Service reunion tour has over most indie rock shows, including Gibbard’s other band, Death Cab For Cutie: It’s just fun, even if you don’t have the nostalgia that’s driving the bus for most attendees. – Jillian Mapes
KENDRICK LAMAR UPSTAGED BY WHEELCHAIRED CROWDSURFER
Kendrick Lamar, one of just a handful of hip-hop artists at Lolla, came to rock. Unlike his Governors Ball set, Kendrick brought a live band along with him, which added a little extra immediacy to his good kid, m.A.A.d city hits like “Money Trees,” a Drake-less “Poetic Justice” and “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.” While Kendrick managed to up his profile, drawing a huge crowd at the traditionally alt festival, it was another person who almost stole the show.
Halfway through Lamar’s set, a man in a wheelchair started crowdsurfing. Once the rapper spotted the guy, he stopped what he was doing and just stared. Somehow the rest of the crowd managed to bring him all the way up to the stage barricade, where security guards helped him into the pit between the crowd and the stage. As the crowd roared, the man began to leave the pit. But Kendrick shouted for him to stay. “This is your moment,” he said. No, Kendrick, we’re pretty sure this was yours. – Shannon Carlin
THE NATIONAL KEEPS IT DEPENDABLE
Over a decade into their career, the narrative of The National is that they’ve done it. They’ve reached the ceiling and are trotting victory laps around the indie paddock and will continue to do so until the sun withers into a pebble. In 2010, The National played openers to Arcade Fire’s headlining set on the north stage, and this year they played the south stage right before The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons. Maybe all three of those bands have better shout-choruses with oos and ahhs and heys and hos than The National, but that’s hardly as rewarding as letting your head fall back and slurring out “I still owe money, to the money, to the money I owe” or “I won’t f**k us over I’m Mr. November.” New songs “Don’t Swallow The Cap” and “I Should Live In Salt” are climbing their way to new highlights live, too, though just not as storied and sharp as something like “Mistaken For Strangers” or “Abel.” In two or three years The National will probably be back, probably playing the same time slot, and then we’ll really all be singing along to their strongest new cut off Trouble Will Find Me, “Sea Of Love,” head back, and bittersweet as always. – Jeremy D. Larson
ERIC CHURCH CONFUSES, WINS OVER ROCK FANS WITH RIFFS & SONGS ABOUT WEED
Eric Church knows what he’s in for when he takes on a gig like last year’s Orion Fest or, in the case of this summer, Lollapalooza. He’s up for the challenge of winning over rock fans, many of whom likely do not realize just How Big A Deal Church is in the country world, and for the most part, he succeeds. “Springsteen” is a given due to its namesake, “Creepin'” is sinister enough in its licks, and it doesn’t get anymore universal for festivalgoers than “Smoke A Little More Smoke.” Church, who told us that he was battling a hangover following his pre-show Friday night, can go a smidge overboard live with the improvised riffs that border as much on Trans-Siberian Orchestra as they do Metallica, but it’s clear he’s trying to hook this specific crowd. I’d like to see Chesney or Paisley attempt as much. – Jillian Mapes
LOCAL NATIVES ARE PERFECT FOR AFTERNOON FESTING
There’s not much to say about the Local Natives besides this: They are one of the best indie rock bands to see during the afternoon at a big outdoor fest like Lolla. They’re tight and charming and and impassioned and absolutely know what they’re doing, even more so than two years ago when they played almost the same exact location at a similar time slot. Now, instead of previewing tracks from their second album, Hummingbird, they are in a later phase of that album‘s release cycle. They’re less a “band to watch” and more of a staple of the L.A. scene, and rightfully so. – Jillian Mapes
BAND TO WATCH: REIGNWOLF
Reignwolf was one of the surprises of the day. Jordan Cook’s afternoon set was bluesy, gritty and raw with the Canadian guitarist doing his own songs, along with a one-man band version of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” His set was so good the crowd didn’t want him to leave, cheering “one more song!” Cook came back singing, “It’s time to go” as he burned through another epic guitar solo. It seems we’ve found our heir apparent to The Black Keys. – Shannon Carlin