The People's Key
Author: Nicole Frehsee
8/6/11 | Rolling Stone | www.rollingstone.com | Live Show Preview
The Kills were midway through their Friday afternoon at Lollapalooza when singer Alison Mossheart began to sweat. As she growled the refrain of the bouncy, tribal-beat-fueled "Sour Cherry" -- "Shout when you wanna get off the ride!" -- her long, black hair became matted to her forehead and her bangs dripped with perspiration. Meanwhile, guitarist Jamie Hince, clad in black pants and a gray blazer, lifted his arms to reveal two massive pit stains.The garage-rock duo weren't the only sweltering ones at the mega Chicago fest, which kicked off its 20th anniversary weekend in 85-degree temps and oppressive humidity. Despite the heat, a sold-out crowd of 90,000 packed into Grant Park to hear nearly 12 hours of music by 51 acts, including buzzy British rapper Tinie Tempah, indie icon Bright Eyes and headliners Muse, Girl Talk and Coldplay. Meanwhile, Bright Eyes dominated the Bud Light stage with an acoustic guitar, busting out fan favorites like from the jubilant, hoedown-ready "Four Winds," to the spare, melancholy "Landlocked Blues." "This song's for all the phonies in the audience tonight," shouted sunglass-wearing frontman Conor Oberst, before launching into "Shell Games," which was punctuated by trumpet stabs and power-ballad riffs. Even a pedal-steel guitar made an appearance on the tune "Old Soul Song (for the New World Order)."As the sun began to fade, Oberst whipped off his glasses to make eye contact with the crowd. He kicked into an emotional version of "One Foot in Front of the Other," and when he spit the lyrics, "greed is a bottomless pit/and our freedom's a joke, we're just taking a piss," one had to wonder if he was thinking about the debt-ceiling debate.Oberst's reference to democracy (or lack thereof?) wasn't the only nod to the U.S.A. at the festival: Muse frontman Matthew Bellamy showed up for his band's headlining set in an American-flag-adorned t-shirt and bright red skinny jeans. As a massive crowd gathered at the Music Unlimited Stage, the British rockers unleashed hits like the dark, throbbing "Uprising" and the falsetto-pierced "Supermassive Black Hole." As the trio kicked into the hypnotic, fiery "Hysteria," pink and gold fireworks shot off in the background.