Day one of Lollapalooza jam-packed from start to finish

The inaugural day of 2012’s Lollapalooza was jam-packed with great acts from start to finish. Here’s what I caught on a very hot Friday afternoon and evening.

Enjoying anything in the 95-degree heat can be challenging, but Dr. Dog made enduring the heat worth it. The energetic, bouncing set started strong and remained so throughout. Listening to Dr. Dog just makes you smile; it’s as simple as that.

Though strong throughout, things really picked up at “The Beach.” Bass player and vocalist Toby Leaman’s voice was gritty and soulful, bringing a different feel and intensity to the set than before. Leaman’s stage presence is always great, but his commitment to this song was next level – he pulled out a duck walk-esque move during the instrumental breaks of the song.

Followed by “Heavy Light,” the contrast of Scott McMicken’s voice had an almost Bob Dylan vibe during the spoken portion of the song. His voice has a very different sound than Leaman’s, but the contrast makes their set interesting.

The band didn’t mess around; they played a solid set all the way through, giving the crowd exactly what they were looking for in the heat. The instrumental breaks in songs guaranteed an energetic interaction between band members, translating to the energy in the crowd.

No complaints from Dr. Dog’s Lollapalooza performance, it was a great way to enjoy the hot afternoon. Also – bonus points to McMicken and his neon orange acoustic guitar.

The afternoon continued on the other end of the park with Canadian indie-rock group Metric. Lead singer Emily Haines demanded the attention of the Lollapalooza crowd, the first lyrics out of her mouth we’re “I’m just as f*cked up as they say” from “Artificial Nocturne,” also the opening track from their latest album “Synthetica.”

Energetic doesn’t begin to describe the performance Haines gave Friday afternoon. From the high-knees she was doing at her synthesizer in her maroon velvet booties to the laps she’d make on the stage, she was sweating more that the audience members that had been in the sun all day by the second song.

At a festival with many bands in the same genre, performances can unfortunately blend together – you’ve seen one indie rock band at the Bud Light stage, you’ve seen them all – but Metric breaks the mold. There’s a mysterious quality behind Haynes’ voice that keeps you listening and certainly makes the performance stand out.

Haynes wanted the crowd to be just as pumped as she was, frequently getting them involved in the songs, but well-known songs like “Help I’m Alive” and “Breathing Underwater” got the crowd most excited.

By “Stadium Love,” Metric’s last song, it wasn’t obvious it was the end of the set. Haines and the rest of the band still had so much energy it seemed like their first song of the day. Spirit award goes to Metric.

Passion Pit followed Metric on the Bud Light stage on the north end of the park. Opening with “Take a Walk” from their newly released “Gossamer.” Vocalist Michael Angelakos’s voice was a bit overpowered by the music, but overall it wasn’t distracting.

Following their opening came “Moth’s Wings,” a big and bass-y rendition that got the crowd riled. Maybe it didn’t work for the long-haired Ozzfest-wearing men waiting for Black Sabbath, but it did for everyone else.

Angelakos asked the crowd who saw them the last time they were at Lollapalooza (2009) and the response wasn’t overwhelming, proving how much the band’s fans base has grown over the last thee years.

The performance from Angelakos was energetic and lively – he soaked through his lavender button-down. Before closing with “Little Secrets” he asked the crowd to help him saying “I haven’t sung in a while so I’m losing my voice.” The band recently canceled a number of performances leading up to Lollapalooza and their preshow Thursday night at the House of Blues due to the mental health problems of Angelakos. He certainly didn’t show any sign of distress, his stage presence actually quite adorable – bouncing around and flapping his arms like a bird trying to take flight.

The strain on his voice is obvious though; the high notes so present on “Manners” can’t be hit like before. Their songs are certainly still enjoyable, but the strain on Angelakos’s face while trying to hit those notes was very visible, and it was quite audible as well.

The Black Keys are rock stars, there’s no question that. Making their fifth Lollapalooza appearance, they rightly earned their Friday night closing spot. Starting out with “Howlin’ For You,” The Black The band has a stellar discography and each song was better than the next.

Regardless of how great the Black Keys might be – a historic event was happening at the other end of the park – Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath were performing. It doesn’t matter if you listen to Sabbath or not, seeing an almost original line-up of the band, okay really just seeing Ozzy in person is a once in a lifetime enticing opportunity.

Instrumentally, the band still sounded pretty good. If at 64 Tony Iommi can still do what he did on guitar, playing impressive riffs and solos, there are no excuses for anyone else, in not just music but in life.

Ozzy Osbourne was… Ozzy. Lyrics were slurred and a bit inaudible, but wouldn’t it have been disappointing if they weren’t? At one point, in his very sequined black shirt, Osbourne awkwardly jerked around and looked as if he was trying to throw spells on the crowd, perhaps intentional and keeping with the band’s eerie vibes they became known for.

It was almost surreal to see Sabbath perform “Iron Man,” a track of iconic proportions live. Ozzy pulled it together surprising well, and 2012 in Grant Park almost felt like 1970.
Ô_