Best & Worst of Lollapalooza
by Cassie Walker
Bat for Lashes
The crowds battle the heat, the hippies come out in full force, Lou Reed causes a band bottleneck, and Perry summons a helicopter. We’ve given you our best and worst of Lollapalooza for the weekend. What are some of yours?
+ Bat for Lashes: The Pakistan-born singer has drawn comparison to Siouxsie of Siouxsie and the Banshees fame. We hear more Bjork, but whatever the case, she dazzled with her sparkly leotard, sultry voice, and booming beats.
+ Neko Case. It was the last show in a five-week tour, and Case and company sounded tight, like they’d been playing together forever. Our favorite: a perfectly pitched rendition of “Maybe Sparrow.”
+ The Raveonettes. Going in, we didn’t know much about this Danish duo, but their dark, grooving guitar riffs and catchy male-female vocals made it one of our favorite performances.
+ Boyz Noise. You have to get past the name, which we admit sounds like a teeny bopper band. Instead it’s a wiry German DJ whose electronica had the crowd fist pumping within moments of taking the stage.
+ The Kentucky band Cage the Elephant. There was a lot of hype for this group of youngsters, but the first half of their messy set on Sunday afternoon sounded more like a high school Battle of the Bands entry than what should be served up for a $200 ticket at Lollapalooza.
+ Lou Reed. He’s a legend and all, and we were pumped to see him. We’re not sure where it went wrong: starting 15 minutes late; the 10-minute, ear-bleeding experimental riff; or the fact that Mr. Reed didn’t know his own lyrics and had to read from a teleprompter.
+ The Lou Reed-Band of Horses-Jane’s Addiction mash up. We’re not sure what exactly happened, but it went something like this: Lou Reed started late and ended late, thus causing Band of Horses to start late and play over their set time. Jane’s Addiction stormed the stage anyway, so there was a good 10 minutes of two loud bands playing at exactly the same time in the same field for the same audience. It was a hot mess, one made all the more uncomfortable by the fact that Perry Ferrell had summoned a helicopter to fly around the field at the start of the show. So there was one crowd, two bands, and ... a noisy helicopter. Weird.
+ Around Sunday at 3 p.m., when the schedule said Neon Hitch, and the BMI stage subbed in a tutu-wearing R&B singer named Priscilla Renea. For risk of being cruel, we won’t say much more, except that it was a low point in the day.
A funny thing happened on Day 2 of Lollapalooza: The tallboy Budweisers ($8) disappeared, and so did the rain. Out came the humidity and the normal, 12 ounce aluminum cans ($5). Unless you were standing at the Tool stage, where the beer pourers told us that they were serving only cups—there was concern that the cans would be used as projectiles. If that doesn’t tell you something about the Lollapalooza crowd, nothing will. Here, then, the best and worst of day two of the fest.
+ The sound at TV and the Radio. The inconsistencies in mic levels overshadowed the quality of the performance. Vocals were all off.
+ The bleedover from Animal Collective to Tool. Someone must have not checked their watch, because Animal Collective played into Tool’s set, and it was auditory chaos.
+ Arctic Monkeys. They may have been wailing, but the cheese factor was thick. Why is this band so popular?
+ Animal Collective’s DJ set. The Baltimore band played a DJ set on Perry’s stage. We could barely hear it, and we were sitting right there.
+ Saturday’s lineup. It was missing something.
+ Santigold. She was the feel-good moment of the day.
+ Perry Farrell’s DJ set. So it looked like he had a porn star on backup mics, that only added to the, um, charm?
+ “Brother Sport” by Animal Collective. They may not have rocked the DJ set, but their mainstage show was worth the trek across the park. Our favorite song sounded just as good live as it does on their latest album.
+ The pina colada smoothie. Even though it cost $5 and wasn’t spiked in the least, it was a surprisingly delightful mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
+ The pork taco from Adobo Grill ($5). We ran into a foodie friend, and he agreed: best food at the fest so far.
+ The (barely there) length of the beer lines. Curiously, they were inversely proportional to the length of the bathroom lines.
Each year, we pick the best and worst of Lollapalooza and post it here, along with our photographers’ shots from the day. We’re sticking with the tradition this year—despite the fact that rain, mud, wind, and a hand-wringing 27-minute wait for a Port-o-John made us think, at around 5 p.m., that we were about to be descended upon by a plague of locusts. Not to be whiners, things got better once the rain dried up, the umbrellas went down, and the skyline lit up behind the park. In fact, Friday night ended up being downright pleasant, if you managed to avoid the giant mud pits that appeared around a few of the stages. Here, then, our best and worst of Friday at Lolla.
+ Justin Vernon, AKA Bon Iver, giving a shoutout to his home country—Northern Wisconsin—on the heels of a bangup rendition of the haunting ballad “Skinny Love.”
+ The entire lineup of the Playstation stage: Zap Mama, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Andrew Bird
+ Perry’s DJ tent, particularly the set by Kanye West DJ A-Trak. Despite the throngs of glitter-wearing young’uns, we’ll be stopping by here on Saturday (for the Animal Collective DJ set, among others.)
+ Of Montreal. Psychedelic-meets-glam rocker Kevin Barnes lured fans to the muddiest part of Grant Park. It could have been hellish, but his funky, experimental sounds made it heavenly.
+ The merch. Kind of embarrassing to admit, but we dropped $25 on an Atari-themed Lollapalooza T. But that’s what happens when it rains and your carefully planned outfit gets soaked. Turns out, the T-shirts look pretty good… honest… we’re not just saying that… promise….
+ Depeche Mode. All I could hear were the words flashback, flashback, flashback. And not in a good way. By the time the band started ripping into Policy of Truth and other old favorites, the crowd was packing up and leaving.
+ The aforementioned wait for the Port-o-Potties on the north side of the park. The south side is well stocked, but the north side is severely lacking. Note to organizers….
+ The mushy gyro from Greek Delights, one of the food vendors on the north end of the park. No amount of yogurt sauce could save it. Bye-bye, $7. Hello, Tums.
+ The rain. To stay dry, we had to wear a ripped up garbage bag for the better part of an afternoon. Classy.