Chicago — The plan for a weekend of Lollapalooza shuffle firmly established, Saturday's musical Pu-Pu platter was a bit more focused on rock and its various offshoots, plus, frankly, bands I either love already or was just curious about.
First on the list was hip-hop's current go-to hook queen, Skylar Grey. In her first major appearance since blowing up thanks to her vocals on Dr Dre's "I Need a Doctor," singer/songwriter Grey is clearly read to go out on her own. (She would join pal Eminem later in the night during his headlining set.)
With a haunting, gothy vibe, Grey came out wearing a ragged white hoodie that hung in shreds like a ghost shawl down to her ankles, accented by combat boots, army pants and a white sports bra that showed off her impossibly thin belly. She was all aggression and angst, at one point neck-tackling her guitarist.
Her moody rock tunes, which balanced programmed beats with live playing, combined anxiety and empowerment ("Monster," "Beautiful Nightmare"), showing off her crisp, high vocals and the plainspoken songwriting slated for her upcoming major-label debut. Part Alanis Morissette and part Dido, the songs struck a balance between vulnerability and no B.S. strength. The self-professed "f---ing weirdo" also played a snippet of Radiohead's "Creep" before busting into her own tune about being a super freak, "Weirdo."
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Just as they did two years ago, British dance popsters Friendly Fires drew an early, sweaty slot on the North main stage, but made the most of it with a high-energy set that ended with the falsetto boogie anthem "Kiss of Life." It was a very different vibe just moments later on an adjacent stage when pale, puffy-eyed and sleepless-looking flower punkers the Black Lips stumbled out for one of their typically chaotic sets.