Off the Record

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Radiohead (Courtesy of Lollapalooza)

Via Chicago

If there were one singularly transcendent sequence at Lollapalooza 2008 in Grant Park, it occurred Friday night at the onset of Radiohead's "Everything in Its Right Place." As if on cue, fireworks streaked across the Chicago skyline from afar, eclipsing the cinematic grandeur of Thom Yorke's quivering croon. The glittering shower of color climaxed during "Fake Plastic Trees," giving light to the euphoric sensation shared by the captivated audience as Radiohead reiterated why it's perhaps the most important band of the past decade. But the fireworks didn't stop there. The entire three-day, sold-out festival, produced once more by local booking and management powerhouse C3 Presents, mirrored the pyrotechnic arrangement in both style and substance, providing a well-orchestrated and dazzling display of budding talent and momentary splendors, too much to possibly absorb at one time.

Okkervil River
Okkervil River (Photo by Gary Miller)

Local fireworks came courtesy of Explosions in the Sky, who ignited an epic, 53-minute suite from the main stage on Saturday, capped by The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place's "Memorial" and "The Only Moment We Were Alone." Likewise, Okkervil River fired off "The President's Dead," and the Octopus Project launched a few hundred missile balloons skyward to open its Sunday morning set, Yvonne Lambert making her theremin gently weep as the rest of the band colored around its edges with a titillating array of electronics and synthesizers. Electric Touch's brand of Brit-rock could've been clipped from the pages of NME, while Black Joe Lewis & the Honey Bears took cues from the retro soul revue provided by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Cameos from Samantha Ronson and Slash may have caused more buzz during Perry Farrell's set in the new electronica tent, which bears the Lollapalooza founder's name, but Austin's DJ Mel held his own with an ecstatic mix of 1990s club bangers that included a rather ingenuous mash-up of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" and the beat from homecoming king Kanye West's "Gold Digger."

DJ Mel
DJ Mel (Photo by Gary Miller)

Considering nearly one-fifth of the acts in what people referred to as Gotham City last weekend are headed to our bat cave next month, the jaunt also provided an exciting preview of the 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival. Iron & Wine let The Shepherd's Dog out to pasture, roaming freely through the pastoral psychedelia of "House by the Sea" and "White Tooth Man." The minimalist, industrial grind of the Kills defied its midday context with violently sexual and abrasive exchanges that sounded at times like '67 Velvet Underground stripped down to only Nico and Lou Reed. British superfreak/geek Jamie Lidell layered and warped beat-boxed vocals to instantly create soulful jams like "A Little Bit More," while MGMT's disco glam caused an early Saturday night fever, and gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, Brooklyn's Yeasayer, and Brazil's CSS took turns redefining world dance music. Bringing the weekend full circle, Gnarls Barkley's mournful cover of Radiohead's "Reckoner" managed to send chills all the way back into the neighboring media area, where OTR broadcast live on Sunday evening. For sound bites from backstage, visit

Across a Wire

Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine (Courtesy of Lollapalooza)

Black Joe Lewis on labeling the Honey Bears' tour van "St. Joseph's Catholic Church":

"There are only two kinds of groups that ride in those types of vans: bands and churches. We're trying to get the cops to just keep going when we drive by and all of the thugs that want to jack our stuff. Who wants to steal from a church?"

Patrick Carney of the Black Keys on working with producer Danger Mouse:

"It was kind of like we turned into a threepiece for this record. He definitely deals with instruments in an unusual way; he kind of mutates them. Overall, it gives them an eerie feeling."

Girl Talk on sampling Nirvana, Roy Orbison, and Jimi Hendrix:

"Nothing is sacred to me. Everyone is influenced by their favorite bands, and they take pieces of that and try to reinterpret those ideas into something new."

MGMT on the hot dogs at Wrigley Field:

"The relish was the greatest, most beautiful shade of green I've ever seen. Emerald green, like the waters of Indonesia."

School's Out for Summer

There are some things that the Paul Green School of Rock Music can't teach you. For everything else, there's Gibby Haynes. On the last night of the Butthole Surfers' reunion tour with the Paul Green School of Rock All-Stars, July 29, at New York's Webster Hall, the frontman was booted from the venue after an altercation with the house engineer that has been shrouded in rumor ever since. "It was hellacious, the stuff legends are made of," grins bassist Jeff Pinkus, finally setting the record straight. "Gibby threw a bottle at his head and broke it clear off. Then he went to urinate in his neck hole, but urine came out of his belly button and ruined the monitors, so we couldn't play." Now that sounds like vintage Butthole Surfers. Haynes could not be reached for comment. The noise-rock troupe, which cashed in at the inaugural Lollapalooza in 1991, still hasn't confirmed any local arrangements, but the Surfers will appear at October's Voodoo Music Festival in New Orleans.

Random Play

David Byrne will preface his appearance at ACL with a special engagement at the Paramount Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 25, as part of his Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno tour, according to Billboard. Neither performance is scheduled to include Eno but will rather focus on material from their seminal collaboration, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, the Talking Heads circa 1979-80, and Byrne's latest Eno-produced solo outing, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

• It's not too late to get in on the South Padre International Music Festival's Battle to the Beach competition. The winning act takes home a cool $5,000 and earns a spot on the three-day bill, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, alongside headliners Willie Nelson, Los Lonely Boys, Ghostland Observatory, and Alejandro Escovedo. More details at

• Attention local bands: Sign up now for the Chronicle's Musicians Register (

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Lollapalooza 2008, Black Joe Lewis, Radiohead, Explosions in the Sky, The Octopus Project, Butthole Surfers, Jamie Lidell

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