Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs on Friday. View more photos from this day >>
Day one of Lollapalooza wrapped with Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead crowing the lyrics to “Optimistic"—"If you try the best you can, if you try the best you can"—to a sea of people. And by a sea, I mean 75,000 crowded into Grant Park today—all seemingly buying beer; all seemingly sweating beyond the effectiveness of Secret and Mitchum. Hey, we were all trying the best we could to not have a heat stroke. Thanks for hearing us, Thom.
To that end, the best and worst of Lollapalooza, day one.
Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys
1. A raw rock one-two punch in the afternoon with The Kills, a spare but hearty male-female duo with a female lead reminiscent of Joan Jett. This followed by a jog across the park to see The Black Keys, a twosome I absolutely adore from Akron, Ohio. Both shows were fierce—and both shows buck the current trend of bands crowding a dozen folks and a marching band’s worth of instruments on stage. You don’t need all that for a great show.
2. Radiohead. I last saw them in 1995 opening for R.E.M. Um, they’ve grown a bit. Set against a backdrop of the Chicago skyline—it was a pretty mindblowing experience. They opened up heavy on In Rainbows material, but an hour into the set they dusted off material from OK Computer, Kid A, et al. Phenomenal. They wrapped with “Idioteque.” Love it.
3. Brooklyn-ites Yeasayer, an indie band with a world music sort of a vibe and a decent grasp of harmony.
Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke
4. The Lederhosen beer tent: Yes, you can actually buy a decent beer here. But you will have to do some searching, and it will cost you $7. (Note: the Lederhosen beer tent is south of Buckingham Fountain before you reach the field with the AT&T stage.)
5. Bloc Party, which brought substance and style. Lead singer Kele Okereke sported an Obama T-shirt, matching bright red shorts, and high tops—and absolutely killed the song “Banquet"—a favorite of mine.
1. The cell phone service. Ironic how AT&T is sponsoring the most prominent stage here, but the network seemingly can’t handle the traffic. Every person I talked to with AT&T service was experiencing a delay receiving text messages or they weren’t getting the network at all. It was the biggest complaint I heard all day—well, the second biggest after the heat. If you’re coming on Saturday and you want to hook up with your friends, you’d be best served to make a plan, old school style.
Long lines, scorching heat
2. The heat. Bring water if you come down here.
3. Cat Power. I’m sorry. I love her music, but I’m not a fan of her live stage show. I’ve seen her a few times now, and she looks at the ground when she sings. It kills me.
4. The Crescent Foods tent. I spent $8 on a “salad wrap,” which was, literally, lettuce in a folded tortilla. For $8. There was supposed to be guacamole and vegetables in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find ’em. Worse, the only alternatives appeared to be hamburgers, hot dogs, Italian beefs, and smoothies. Smoothies are not dinner—no matter what the dieters say.
5. The long lines to get through security and into the fest. It should be better on Saturday, but if you’re coming, give yourself some time to cruise through the gates.
What are your best and worst of the fest so far? Write in and let us know! Until Saturday…
Photography: Esther Kang