Notes on Lollapalooza
by Varghese Chacko
At Lollapalooza I kept having to remind myself that Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the US, and hosting Lollapalooza in Grant Park was the equivalent of New York City hosting a several day-long multi-stage festival in Central Park. While the rain thoroughly soaked us Friday, Saturday stayed dry (though it was somewhat smelly in certain areas) and Sunday was a scorcher. With estimates of 75,000 people per day, the setup was well thought out because it dealt with those crowds. There were 2 main stages at either end of the park and then each main stage had a slightly smaller stage right across from it. Speckled in between the 2 main areas was a long concourse that housed 4 smaller stages like Perry’s which was dedicated to DJs and Citi Stage where I caught some solid shows.
Our first show Friday was White Lies who were one of my favorites of the weekend. The lead singer reminded me of a darker Morrissey and their songs overshadowed the constant rain. I then wandered over for Chicago native party crew Dark Wave Disco, who had the crowd grooving over their hipster-electro set. Afterwards I trekked to the south side of the grounds to catch STS9’s jammy set that had its moments of harder beats. From there I found Fleet Foxes to be a little too light, though it could have been the 4 hours of constant rain. Later A-Trak proved again that he is one of the better party DJs. Next was Thievery Corporation with their 13-piece band that is awesome, but you only need to see them once (this was my 3rd time). Depeche Mode closed it out and happily brought me back to those days when cassettes ruled the world.
Saturday afternoon Atmosphere dropped his Minneapolis style on the humidity-ridden crowd and proved that not all of his shows are filled with screaming girls swooning over his emo-hop. Chairlift was super poppy but enjoyable. On my way to Arctic Monkeys I wandered by Perry Farrell’s electronica DJ set. (It was cool to see the Lollapalooza founder spinning for the crowd.) Arctic Monkeys were good, however I’m not the biggest fan of the singer’s voice. In efforts to maintain a good position for TV On the Radio, we were a bit too far from Santigold to hear her properly but I dug what I could hear and definitely want to check her out live again. TVOTR was awesome to finally see live and they definitely lived up to the hype. At Perry’s after, Diplo, while dressed in a fancy suit, threw down some dirty classic Philly/B-more beats. I quickly wandered over to Ben Harper whose rocking band unfortunately was more audible than his voice. On my way over to Tool I caught part of Animal Collective’s set and was happily taken with how much harder they sounded live than on their albums. Tool closed out Saturday with an obviously dark yet animated set that has me wanting to revisit all of their albums.
The final day’s opener for me was the Ravonettes who delivered a solid rock set. At Perry’s, the DJ trio known as Glitch Mob stayed true to their name with a glitchy beat- minded set. (Though it was not the best show of theirs. Playing outside may have taken away from their electronic crescendos.) I thankfully caught the second half of Passion Pit’s set which was really fun and upbeat. Back at Perry’s I was enthralled by Boys Noize’s melodic techno set. At the main stage Snoop Dogg performed with an actual backing band and DJ which brought his old stoner hits some revamped depth. Across the field was the Silversun Pickups, whose “Carnavas” is always in my car. While Brian Aubert, the lead singer, sounds almost female on the album, his voice was much less produced live and I’m happy to have heard it outside the studio. The Killers closed out the festival for me and they definitely brought the arena rock with the surprise pyrotechnics.