BY MARK GUARINO
Gogol Bordello could be just the band to emulate Lollapalooza's brand for sensible nonsense. The band, big enough to fill a starting lineup at Wrigley Field, could double as a theater troupe from Romania, each of the musicians exhibiting their individual character and style, even if some of it -- how about that firebrand pixie zooming back and forth across the stage? -- felt contrived as we eased into Saturday evening.
While others sagged under the heat, this band played best in the daylight as everything they did was action-packed in a live show that was physically exhilarating. Lead singer Eugene Hutz never allowed the momentum to pause, as one song neared its end, he immediately summoned the next. Rubberbanding around the stage, Hutz led group chants and musical breaks. Despite the dense layering on songs like "My Companjera" -- including accordion, fiddle and many-sized drums -- the disparate elements were seamlessly orchestrated and never sounded overbearing.
Spoon played a set that mixed cerebral lyrics and abstract sound noodling with power chords and dance riffs.
Decked in a white shirt and pants while his band wore black, lead singer Britt Daniel helped deliver songs that ranged from hard to warm up to ("Got Nuffin') to straightforward power rock ("Trouble Comes Running").
Adding a six-member horn section helped play to the festival crowd, especially for the strutting "Stay Don't Go"; the soul-power single "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" also played well under wide-open skies.
But in-between the hips shaking were true maneuverings to provide elements that played to more complex moods. Along with a clunky barroom piano and Daniel's howling vocals, "Written in Reverse" was scarred with an electronic crunch while "Small Stakes" was hazed over in reverb.
Mainly, Spoon played to the festival crowd by keeping them dancing. That was best emulated with "Modern World," a Wolf Parade cover. Despite the agitation in the lyrics, the song sailed over the park, turning it into, for one moment, an electro-dance party.