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Music reviews: Frank Ocean, Passion Pit, thenewno2

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At Lollapalooza, fans often either show up to the band's set because they've heard the new album, or they leave the band's set eager to hear the new album.

Last weekend's Lollapalooza 2012 -- when it wasn't being rained out -- presented a handful of good performances, with many of the artists drawing from some stellar new albums. Here are three such records worth picking up or downloading now that we've all gotten the mud cleaned off:

channelO.jpgFrank Ocean, "Channel Orange" (Def Jam) 3<br />
and a half stars -- "A tornado flew around my room before you came," Frank Ocean sings by way of opening his debut album, "Channel Orange." Immediately before this album's release, Ocean certainly created a media storm with a sly online admission of his broad-minded sexuality. Many understandably suspected the move was calculated to raise the hype for his new album; indeed, the resulting buzz caused "Channel Orange" to be rush-released. Fortunately, all that fuss turned out to be irrelevant. This is an album brimming with genius and vision -- it requires no cheap tactics to sell its overall accomplishment.

Lollapalooza 2012: The index

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Sunday @ Lollapalooza: Jack White

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BY THOMAS CONNER Pop Music Critic

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(Tom Cruze/Sun-Times)


Jack White closed out this year's Lollapalooza with an epic performance of the same kind of blues-rock that inspired the festival's Friday headliner, the Black Keys. But White is more than the yin to someone else's yang, he's the whole colorful circle of modern American music -- bashing out rock, digging up roots and careening through country.

Fortunately, he brought along a band that could handle the breadth of material. In fact, he brought two.

Sunday @ Lollapalooza: Justice and Childish Gambino

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BY ANDERS SMITH LINDALL For the Sun-Times

If 2011 was the year dance music ascended to parity with other genres at Lollapalooza, this year solidified its rank. The Perry's DJ stage shed its tentlike cocooon (not without consequence, it should be noted -- sound bleed in Hutchinson Field increased exponentially) and was almost always packed. And two dance acts headlined the main stage, Avicii on Saturday and Justice Sunday.

It's safe to say the guys spinning records and making beats 30 years ago at Chicago's Warehouse nightclub never imagined a couple of French guys playing this music in Grant Park to tens of thousands of fans, but when Justice closed the festival, Butler Field was nearly filled.

Sunday @ Lollapalooza: At the Drive-In

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BY THOMAS CONNER Pop Music Critic

The other surprising reunion act at Lollapalooza doesn't have the profile of Black Sabbath but on a good day might be able to go toe-to-toe with them. For much of their Sunday evening set in Hutchinson Field, it was a good day for At the Drive-In.

The Texas quintet revived its controlled, virtuosic, "post-hardcore" thrash in a main stage set peppered with jerking guitar lines, stand-up comedy and technical glitches.

BY ANDERS SMITH LINDALL For the Sun-Times

This year's Lollapalooza offered almost no Latin music and failed to use its foothold in Chile and Brazil to book more than one act from those pop-loving countries (O Rappa performed early Friday). But a block of gigs Sunday offered the chance to see a few foreign acts whose stateside tours are infrequent.

Sunday @ Perry's: Big Gigantic, Kaskade

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BY MITCHELL HERRMANN For the Sun-Times

The saxophone is an instrument not commonly seen at Lollapalooza, especially among the DJs and producers performing at Perry's Stage. Big Gigantic distinguished themselves by adding an unconventional twist to their dubstep influenced electronic music -- live saxophone and drums.

Producer and saxophonist Dominic Lalli swayed and shook like a 1950s jazz musician, while drummer Jeremy Salken added cymbal patterns and tom fills over thunderous synthesized basslines. The group acknowledged their locationl by performing a "Chi-City" tribute track, newly created for their set at Perry's.

Sunday @ Perry's: Nadastrom

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BY MITCHELL HERRMANN For the Sun-Times

Few people are better qualified to showcase the up-and-coming style of dance music known as Moombahton than the creators of the genre themselves. American DJs Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom combined their names and their talents to create Nadastrom, playing the bouncing, bass heavy music Nada invented nearly by accident in 2010. Moombahton is a cultural melting pot of musical influences, from Dutch House to Puerto Rican Reggaeton.

Sunday @ Lollapalooza: Sigur Ros

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BY THOMAS CONNER Pop Music Critic

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Sigur Ros performs Sunday at Lollapalooza in Grant Park. (Tom Cruze/Sun-Times)


You couldn't imagine a starker contrast between setting and style.

Here's Sigur Ros onstage at Lollapalooza. They open early with the funereal pace their hourlong set will maintain with elegant rigor throughout. Singer Jon Thor "Jonsi" Birgisson is, as always, playing his electric guitar with a bow. Eventually he begins emitting his pinched falsetto cry -- like the call of some eerie, autistic wild -- and continues the piece by singing that same cry directly into his guitar pickup. The result is an added echo, a faintly astral projected sound amid the band's chilly, lush, cinematic sound.

Before them, however, lies Hutchison Swamp.

BY THOMAS CONNER Pop Music Critic

"As Lady Gaga said when I saw her last time we played Lollapalooza [in 2010]," quipped the Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser during the band's Sunday afternoon set at Lollapalooza, "'It's hot as f--- up here!'"

This sounds like a complaint from Friday or Saturday, when Chicago heat indexes were closer to 100, not on Lollapalooza's comparatively glorious third day -- cooler, drier, clearer.

Then again, Leithauser was on the Sony main stage, facing the direct sun -- and, just like the band's appearance in 2010, wearing a black suit.

Thomas Conner

Thomas Conner covers pop music for the Chicago Sun-Times. Contact him via e-mail.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Lollapalooza category.

Grammys is the previous category.

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