Since the first day is when you usually figure out the lay of the land, I spent most of my time fumbling around Grant Park. I sorted out the stage locations, where to eat, and so forth. I actually spent most of my time hanging out by the Google Play stage, as I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of great bands playing at that site. The sound, in my opinion, was perfect. It captured all the bands that performed amazingly. Animal Kingdom kicked it off, mind you I have no idea who they are, but they played an amazing set off of Signs and Wonders and The Looking Away. This British Alternative rock group stole my heart with their great riffs and catchy tunes. Definitely a must see.
8-bit chip punk heros Anamanaguchi took stage, to which I’m sure every video game nerd that’s into nostalgia was there. Obviously I’m a noob and know all about them because of the Scott Pilgrim video game, but they played a few new songs along with songs off of Dawn Metropolis. Loved every bit of it and felt like I was hearing a video game from the intro, through each stage and concluded with the outro. Great energy all around. Indie rock band War on Drugs took stage playing hits off Slave Ambient and Wagonwheel Blues. I got totally lost in a daze and zoned in and out during the performance. Not because it was a bad set, but rather their music is something to easily space out to, and phase between consciousness. But man, the humidity was killing by then and I ended up hanging out in the shade, taking a quick media tent break.
SBTRKT then took stage, bringing the charismatic electronic beats, triggering samples, and mixing deck. Known for his keyboards, vocal loops and singing, SBTRKT definitely brought on the electronic dance party. Playing most of their hits off their self titled album, they brought the dance energy usually reserved for the Perry stage, or the Google Play stage. Unfortunately I missed out on Die Antwoord, who I have seen live and I gotta say they’re quite amusing live but alas, SBTRKT was worth it. Something about getting down in the shade watching the entranced head bobbers surrounding me exhibited how fun SBTRKT is live.
I did want to check out Passion Pit along with their new album, but the dance party effect stuck with me. I ran to Perry’s stage and checked out Porter Robinson’s set who threw down. The electro house, dubstep producer played hits off his debut album, Spitfire, and Porter rocked the Perry stage. The kids were enthralled. Maybe it was the first day energy, his love for those bass drops, but the crowd was eating it up. I then ran to Red Bull Stage and caught half of the Shins set. They played jams off their new album Port of Morrow along with my favorite song, New Slang, off Oh, Inverted World. Guitars sounded great and James Mercer along with Jessica Dobson vocals sounded fantastic. The large, enchanted crowd sang along with fervor.
Then came the downer, in my opinion, and probably a few others feel the same way. M83 took the SONY stage and they were terrible. Not because their guitars were off, not because Anthony Gonzalez wasn’t on top of his game, but for whatever reason they sounded muted, and you could tell the Lollapalooza crowd was turned off. You couldn’t even make sense out of the first few songs, which was a downer for me since I’m a big fan. Maybe it’s because their signature sound was made for indoors, or the booth screwed up, but the set was not up to par with how great they actually are. Weird though, once they played their hit song, Midnight City, it actually got a bit better and you could finally hear them from across the field. Wild.
Black Keys took the Red Bull stage, but I only saw half their set because I wanted to check out Black Sabbath. They played hits off their new album, El Camino, but I don’t have much to say about it. Sabbath is another story. They looked like they just rolled out of the morgue. Ozzy looks like a zombie, but damn, the man can sing. I’ve seen him before live and he still brings it. Sabbath performed their hit songs such as Paranoid, War Pigs, Iron Man and the metal crowd was feeling it hard. Ozzy must get injections of adrenaline for festivals like this. The man is the walking dead but I loved it.
I took off and caught the end of Bassnectar at Perry stage who was in the middle of playing his hit remix of Ellie Goulding’s Lights. Then The Weekend’s High For This remix really caught me off guard. Surprisingly good. Great mix and the crowd was totally feeling the vibe. By this time I was dead and well, I rolled on out with the masses after Bassnectar.
Man, mother nature is a b. I came in and caught the Delta Spirit set and the indie rock band rocked the Bud Light stage. Matthew Vasquez cooled down the Lolla crowd by dumping water on the front row during the final song of their set. I then ran to the Sony stage to catch Neon Indian. Surprisingly, they played Polish Girl, which tends to be their closer. Well, guess what? Neon Indian was forced to end their 5 minute set. Coincidentally, mother nature decided to rock us with some severe weather conditions. Grant Park was evacuated and it became a mass exodus towards wherever people could find cover. No one was pleased. This storm was no joke, and mother nature really brought the pain. Rain poured down with crazy winds, lightning, and thunder roaring like a savage beast. So good call on Lollapalooza on evacuating Grant Park. Luckily, the internet informed the crowd that Lolla was back on after an hour or so delay. Once I returned I was stoked that acts were pushed back 30 minutes or so.
Then Red Hot Chili Peppers came on. Man, did the crowds show up, I’ve never seen so many people flood a stage before, but obviously RHCP are legends in their own right. Great performance by them as the crowd sang out to their popular jams and cell phones/cameras flickered all around the Red Bull stage. Flea has not lost his vigor, the man can still jam on his bass. I then ran to Perry’s stage to check out Santigold since I’ve always been a fan, and she’s been making a comeback since her last album in 2008. Great seeing her live and still have the unf about her. Then as I exited, I ended the night with Avicii at the Bud Light stage. The head Avicii DJ’s form sort of freaks me out but I’m glad he got to throw-down. Seemed like mother nature almost screwed him over twice after winds cancelled EDC’s 2nd night when they were supposed to play. Thank god the weather let up and he got his chance to shine.
Another late day for me as I had to take care of some media business, but I got to check out Sigur Ros at the Red Bull stage. They are amazing live but I felt like their sound was made for the indoors like M83. They bring a great sound and stage presence, but outdoors you sort of lose it. I saw some people just snoozing to it. But it was a classic last day set. The weather was amazing and it all felt just right. Toro Y Moi then began his funky indie electronic set on Sony stage and had Lolla-ites jamming down. The biggest news of the day for me was when At the Drive-In came on. If you don’t know the back story, after years of in-fighting, separating, and not talking to each other, these guys finally came back. Like The Weeknd, I felt At the Drive-In were more cohesive and definitely showed more energy playing together at Lollapalooza. Everything was on point and I felt like they were actually, legitimately happy to be playing together.
They opened up with Arcasenal and of coursed ended with One Armed Scissor. Cedric and Jim’s vocals were on point outside some technical difficulties, but Cedric’s hilarious quips and banter helped move their set right along. It was a treat seeing them live as I don’t think anyone knows when they’ll be playing together again especially when they admitted they were doing it just for the money. Bummer. We’ll see what happens, but the indie-screamo kid in me was stoked to finally see them live again.
By this time I then ran to Google Play stage and checked out The Big Pink who was rocking it and of course the sound was amazing. I had the pleasure of staying and checking Childish Gambino and man, did he throw-down. Is it just me, or do you have more respect for people that play with live bands? Gambino did and his band did not disappoint. Whether it was the fist pounding Heartbeat, You See Me, or Bonfire, the band was on point with Gambino’s rhymes and the crowd was soaking it in. Then I ran to the Bud Light stage to see Justice with We Are Your Friends end their set 6 minutes early. WHO DOES THAT? I’ve seen them a thousand times and pretty much an encore but man, what were they thinking? Play more! I could hear Kaskade still going. Seriously Justice.
Overall, Lollapalooza was great. Like I said before, the sound was amazing on Google Play and they probably had some indie bands that needed some coverage and boy it did succeed. I’m sure the other stages were like that but the Google Play stage stole my heart and it was awesome. Definitely Google some of those bands off the schedule and check em out if you just hung out by the main stages. Best live performance overall, in no specific order: At the Drive-In, The Weeknd, Animal Kingdom, and Chidish Gambino all really stood out to me. Biggest let downs: mother nature delaying Lolla and canceling the Alabama Shakes and Neon Indian sets. Oh, and probably M83′s sound quality. Regardless, it is what it is and I got my money’s worth. Thanks Chicago and Lollapalooza. See you soon!