In its U.S. live appearance debut, Swedish band I’m From Barcelona kicked off Day Two with a spirited set
. With 20 of its 29 members performing, its chamber-pop music was rounded out with horns, choir harmonies and more enthusiasm than most could muster before lunchtime. In fact, it was unfortunate the group didn’t play later, as the pure pop, hooks and energy would’ve been perfect for the dusk time slot. Where Polyphonic Spree can come off a bit cultish, I’m From Barcelona is a hodge-podge of friends getting together and embracing happy melodies for the pure sake of enjoyment. Sure, singing about a tree house, chicken pox and stamp collecting may sound trite or childish, but wrapped in such buoyant songwriting and swinging deliveries, it was a lot of fun, even if it did become a little precious by set’s end.
Kanye West-endorsed Chicago freestyle master Rhymefest, who won a Grammy for co-writing “Jesus Walks,” was joined by a four-piece horn section in addition to his usual four-piece band. While sound issues plagued the set, the Windy City rapper shared tales of his hometown and family – relevant banter to accompany rhymes about ills and strengths of the city. Jazzy horns and calypso beats were but a couple of the varied musical accessories that slid beneath his flow, and at one point, he even rapped over Led Zeppelin. But despite the addition of break dancers and his delivery of a heartfelt freestyle about inner city America’s woes, he was off his usual game, his flow feeling more forced than on target.
Craig Finn and his merry bandits in The Hold Steady held court on a main stage to a mounting crowd of boys and girls in America, all happy converts to the band’s winning ability to borrow the best of American rock ‘n’ roll, turn it into the band's own and top it with literate and poignant tales of teenage trials, love, lust and desperation. Rollicking keys turned “You Can Make Him Like You” into a bar-style sing-along, with fans clinging to every word, and “Hot Soft Light” simply rocked like a summer tune should, with searing guitars burning up the already hot night through its tale of addiction. “Stuck Between Stations,” “Massive Nights,” and “Southtown Girls,” meanwhile, were anthemic and charming set highlights. Finn is an unlikely yet positively giddy hero and frontman, his endearing storytelling and manic hand-wringing, head-grabbing and wide spread arms emphasizing all points along the way, as if the hundreds of mouths singing along to his words didn’t already get it.
While Daft Punk was an impressive headliner the evening before, the choices of Muse and Interpol on opposite sides of the park seemed small in comparison. The former, an established English trio, did muster the muscle to fill the field with massive guitars, artful arrangements and memorable choruses. The anthemic “Time is Running Out” and “Feeling Good” hit their mark, though the buzz wore off much quicker than the lingering impression left from Friday night’s finale.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's Day Three coverage...