Posted at 02:39 PM ET, 08/ 6/2007

A Few Final Thoughts

First, we want to draw your attention to the excellent video that our Kat Hogue shot and edited over the weekend. If you missed out and want to get a taste of the performances by Beastie Boys and the Police, click that link.

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Posted at 10:06 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

Pumpkins Close It Out

"If you're on mushrooms this song will sound really good." Oh gee, now you tell me, Billy Corgan. He said that before "Starla" and even without the aid of psychedelic substances, the 15-year-old Smashing Pumpkins chestnut sounded pretty good, if not great.


The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan (Evan Agostini/Getty Images for Virgin Mobile USA) | PHOTO GALLERY

And that's how most of the set was. Well, except for shmaltzy piano ballad "Death From Above" which brought things to a grinding halt halfway through and sent hoards of weary festivalgoers for the exits. The exodus continued during "To Sheila" which actually sounded pretty good in the Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here" vein.

When the Pumpkins stuck to playing songs that people actually wanted to hear -- as in, anything from 1995 or earlier -- the crowd was happy and the band sounded better. Wistful rockers "Tonight, Tonight" and "1979" came across much better than they did a month ago at the 9:30 club. But there were still far too many songs from the band's lackluster new album "Zeitgeist."

It should be pointed out that drummer Jimmy Chamberlin is a machine on the kit. There's no drum roll too fast or complicated for him and he provided a solid backbone for the performance. At times the band almost sounded as vital as Corgan thinks they actually are.

-- David Malitz

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Posted at 09:50 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

M.I.A. Lights It Up

Maya "M.I.A." Arulpragasam is killing it in the dance tent with a fiery set of global electro-rap. She's an exponentially stronger performer than the one who came through the 9:30 club two years ago, attacking her politically charged playground raps with fury and strutting around the stage with absolute confidence.

But what really strikes me about this closing set are the visuals. There are brightly colored videos flashing in the background and brightly colored lights flanking the stage and brightly colored lights blinking overhead, as well a bank of as strobes. Think M.I.A.'s siezure-inducing MySpace page on steroids. Talk about sensory overload. Now excuse me while I shut my eyes and sing along to "Bucky Done Gun."

-- J. Freedom du Lac

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Posted at 09:40 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

Being There

Today's attendance: 32,000, according to a festival spokeswoman. Pilmico could have accomodated nearly twice that many people.

The two-day attendance total was roughly 74,000. The two-day potential was about 120,000.

The spin is that it's a second-year festival, it's up against Lollapalooza this year, etc. etc. But I have to think that all parties involved are at least somewhat disappointed in the final tally.

-- J. Freedom du Lac

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Posted at 08:34 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

Like a Rock

"We are Velvet Revolver," Scott Weiland announced, "and we still play rock and roll!" This festival has featured countless iterations of rock: art rock and indie rock, dance rock and prog rock, plus hardcore, post-hardcore, emo, nu-metal, power pop and so forth.


Velvet Revolver (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)

Velvet Revolver, though, plays the sort of rock and roll that doesn't really take a qualifier. It's straight-ahead rock built on power chords and driving rhythms played in 4/4 time. Hard but not abrasive,loud, (mostly) uptempo, just tuneful enough -- the sort of stuff favored by mainstream rock radio stations with "real rock" worked into
their slogans.

Weiland's vocals were (mostly) sung clearly, not barked or howled or rapped. Slash, still wearing that top hat, played muscular, rhythmic leads and took blistering solos early and often, whether on Velvet Revolver originals ("Slither," "She Builds Quick Machines") or covers ("Vaseline," from Weiland's old band, Stone Temple Pilots).

"The rock and roll show," Weiland called it. No disagreement here.

-- J. Freedom du Lac

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Posted at 07:34 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

Like Stabbing Myself in the Neck

Let's set the record straight: Interpol does not sound like Joy Division. Singer Paul Banks has a distinctive baritone, not too much different from that of late Joy Divison vocalist Ian Curtis. But Interpol sounds like boring, mopey alt-rock.


Interpol (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)

It was fitting that the rain started to fall harder during the New York quintet's set. Misery loves company. There was absolutely no spark to the band's performance. It was so bad I was actually hoping some beach balls would fly my way. After half an hour I had enough. Well, after 10 minutes I had enough, but after 30 I gave up and left.

-- David Malitz

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Posted at 07:31 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

Wet Track

And now, the deluge. Real rain, anyway. Anyone know if a BlackBerry is waterproof? Also: anyone know why that woman on the stageside riser just flashed her, um, stone temple pilots at the Velvet Revolver crowd?

-- J. Freedom du Lac

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Posted at 06:58 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

The Clan Can Work a Crowd

Leave it Wu-Tang Clan to be the first band to hit the stage more than 10 minutes late at what has been an incredibly prompt festival. But those who were waiting -- including Richard Branson, perched on a riser stage -- didn't hold it against the Clan. Once the legendary hip-hop crew hit the stage and the RZA simply said, "Tiger style!" the massive second stage crowd was eating out of the Clan's collective hand.


The audience gives it up for Wu-Tang Clan (Pouya Dianat - The Washington Post)

Starting with the instantly recognizable "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin To [Expletive] Wit" didn't hurt. The group fought through a succession of mics cutting out, but with eight MCs up on stage there was always someone there to pick up the slack. Method Man and the RZA were most often at the forefront, with Method being the party man during songs and RZA usually handling the between song instructions.

It was chaotic but not a trainwreck. Songs ended abruptly, a verse or two. The most talented MCs in the Clan --Raekwon, the GZA and Ghostface Killah -- took a backseat for the majority of the set. But the crowd that gathered wasn't looking for a lesson in rapidfire flow. They were there to jump up and down, throw up "W" signs with their hands and whatever else the Clan requested.

-- David Malitz

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Posted at 06:15 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

Art-Rock Star

Christmas came early at Pimlico! Oh, wait -- that was just Karen Orzolek, covered in seasonal silver tinsel. But the caterwauling Yeah Yeah Yeahs' singer did come bearing gifts -- namely, exceptional stage presence.


Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)

This woman is simply riveting. She's a freakish force of nature who dances, twitches, preens, skips, hops, glowers, shrieks, strips, cackles and hurls her microphone on stage. And that was just during the rhythmic stomp of "Cheated Hearts."

While Karen O gives the Yeah Yeah Yeahs their edge and mascara-smeared star power, the Brooklyn art-rock band's musical teeth come courtesy Nick Zinner, who specializes in serrated riffs and manufactured, manipulated guitar sounds. Here, those included whale calls, police sirens, squeaky wheels and fingers running over freshly Windexed glass. The group's steadying force? Brian Chase, whose drumming sounds awfully precise today.

I could listen to this band for hours -- and watch Karen O through the holidays. Then again, given the way she's screaming at the crowd about love right now, maybe not. Nightmare before Christmas, indeed.

-- J. Freedom du Lac

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Posted at 05:52 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

This Isn't the Beach

As the chants of "Wu-Tang! Wu-Tang!" grow louder I'll take this brief moment to share my biggest pet peeve with this festival -- those ubiquitous beach balls that keep bopping people on the head. Sure, I laugh every time someone gets hit right on top of the noggin. But it remains incredibly annoying to have to be on the lookout for those annoying things when you're just trying to enjoy some music. One landed next to me during Spoon's set and I simply picked it up, deflated it and put it in my bag. Does that make me a party pooper?

-- David Malitz

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Posted at 05:20 PM ET, 08/ 5/2007

Spoon Redux

Spoon's Britt Daniel's take on his performance a few hours ago? "I was lousy." So I guess I wasn't too harsh in my assessment. Drummer Jim Eno said they've had much worse shows, though, so Spoon fans shouldn't feel too let down. I'll have a transcript up tomorrow as a little post-festival treat, but here's another one: Spoon will be visiting the 9:30 club for two nights this October.

-- David Malitz

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