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On the scene at Lollapalooza Friday: The Black Keys and Black Sabbath deal in different kinds of darkness

By Kyle Anderson & Nolan Feeney

On the opening day of Lollapalooza 2012 in Chicago, people could only talk about two things: The oppressive heat (which isn’t really news for anyone who has ever spent three days repeatedly crossing Grant Park in August), and whether or not Black Sabbath was going to make everybody sad.

Obviously, the idea of the legendary metal band playing a nearly two-hour set of heavy classics was titillating, and frontman Ozzy Osbourne remains one of the most unpredictable characters in rock. But health problems for both Osbourne and Tony Iommi have called into question whether or not this particular Sabbath reunion was a good idea, and suggested that the band might be better served staying at home (which is exactly what drummer Bill Ward ended up doing anyway).

By the time they left the stage on Friday night, they delivered no definitive answers. The set list was unimpeachable —  hitting on everything you could possibly want to hear from them, including “Iron Man,” “War Pigs,” “Sweet Leaf,” “N.I.B.,” and “Paranoid” (which they wisely saved for the encore). Ozzy still has the will of a manic frontman, but neither his body nor his voice seem to be able to match his intent, and he seemed vaguely off for the better part of the evening.

Iommi’s steady riffing carried the night, though the set ground to an unfortunate halt during an overlong drum solo (though honestly, there’s no such thing as an “appropriate length drum solo”) that saw a lot of people trying to beat the traffic home.

Still, for those who stuck around, the rest provided by the rhythmic interlude might have been just what the other members of the band needed, as the band’s finishing run (which included the awesome and deeply underrated Technical Ecstasy gem “Dirty Women”) was as strong as any modern metal act. Were they good? Sure. Should they keep going? The jury is still out.

On the other end of the park, the Black Keys were offering up no such existential quandaries. READ FULL STORY

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