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Lollapalooza Saturday review: Red Hot Chili Peppers cap off a rain-drenched day

Tune-Yards performs at Lollapalooza Saturday.
Tune-Yards performs at Lollapalooza Saturday.
Scott Shetler

On a soggy day at Lollapalooza Saturday that featured an evacuation of Chicago's Grant Park, the Red Hot Chili Peppers returned some normalcy to the proceedings with a solid headlining set.

The Chili Peppers played tunes from various albums, including "Snow (Hey Oh)" from 2006's "Stadium Arcadium," an early highlight. A trippy bass solo from Flea led into 2000's "Otherside." Our only complaint is that we wish the group would focus more on its funk and hip-hop leanings, because those genres represent some of their best material.

We moved on from the Peppers just as they finished 2002's "Can't Stop" to head over to R&B singer Frank Ocean, whose set had the buzz factor, much like his recent album "Channel Orange," one of the best records of 2012 so far.

Ocean was not much of a showman. He opted for an old-school, no-frills presentation, and that worked just fine because the songs were excellent. After opening with a cover of Sade's "By Your Side," he crooned his latest single "Thinkin Bout You," earning roars of approval every time he delved into falsetto.

Ocean dared to sing "American Wedding," the song that earned him lawsuit threats from the Eagles because it sampled "Hotel California." He changed up the song so that the melody resembled the classic tune but the instrumentation was entirely different.

Ocean, who earned loads of media attention this summer by revealing that his first love was a man, addressed the matter head-on near the end of his set, introducing "Bad Religion" by commenting that with his decision to go public, he's "taken freedom" and "taken the fear away." That song and the one that followed, "Pyramids," were the high points of his set.

The afternoon began with sunny and then cloudy skies, and just after 3 pm, festival authorities stopped the music and forced everyone out of Grant Park due to impending storms. Fans scattered throughout downtown until the rain passed and the muddy park was re-opened at 6.

A few good bands saw their sets canceled, and others were given shorter sets with a compacted schedule after the rain. B.o.B was notably screwed by Lolla for a second time, having his set canceled two years after he was given an absurd 11:30 a.m. set time on opening day during the height of his popularity.

Tune-Yards, the act led by ukelele-playing singer Merrill Garbus, delivered the best set we witnessed today with kooky pop offerings built around her looped vocal and drums parts. "Gangsta" and "Bizness," two favorites from her "Whokill" album, were the highlights in a set full of them.

Bloc Party preceded the Chili Peppers on stage. Forgive us, Bloc Party, fans, but we've always found this band extraordinarily boring, and today was no exception. They're capable musicians and they're probably lovely lads, but their music does absolutely nothing for us. The crowd went nuts during the performance, and that's probably all the band cares about.

R&B singer-producer The Weeknd impressed during his hour-long set. The Toronto performer brought out a full band and sounded like a young Michael Jackson at times on his soulful songs with a rock edge. Weeknd was so new that the Lollapalooza phone app didn't even have his bio, but he showed why he's such a hot name right now.

Neon Indian only got to play for about 15 minutes before the evacuation, but their infectious rhythms were impressive. Plus, Alan Palomo wins the prize for best hair with a Jordan Knight circa 1990 up-do.

Check out more of my Chicago live music articles.


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