I’ve been going to Lollapalooza with my best friends since we were in high school. Every year it gets a little less intimidating, and every year the lineup gets a little more disappointing. Blame it on my patrician music tastes, blame it on Riot Fest blowing up, blame it on Lollapalooza slowly morphing into an EDM festival. Whatever you blame it on, I always catch myself sighing when the lineup is announced in April. And yet I still go.
This year, the big headliners were ex-Beatle Paul McCartney (wow!), goat beard aficionados Metallica (wow!), and Florence and the Machine (wow?). Along with Bassnectar, Sam Smith and the Weeknd warily headlining the secondary main stage, the general consensus deemed Lollapalooza guilty of blowing their budget on Paul and Metallica. Granted, they both put on some of the best Lolla sets of all time, but it left the rest of the festival rather weak.
With that being said, there were still many middle-tier bands that were worth seeing throughout the weekend. International gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, who we recently saw with Flogging Molly in Indy, put on the most exciting, energetic show that I saw. Indie kids push-moshed to their heart’s content during the fast songs, the crowd waved their hands to the beat of the slow songs and singer/all-around maniac Eugene Hütz poured red wine down both his mouth and pants in between stage-dives and frolics.
Another notable band I dug was upcoming Minnesotans Hippo Campus. The band was set to play early on Saturday on a side stage, but the crowd that arrived was much larger than what the stage could hold. Thousands of fans packed under the trees of the BMI stage waiting for The Hippos to promptly begin at 1:10 pm. Once they began, they didn’t stop. Their lively stage presence kept the crowd interested, but what was even more impressive was how their musicianship was not hindered by their athleticism. Think of the vocal timbre of Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig mixed with the guitarwork and fun-loving energy of The Fratellis. The best part of their set? Every song sounded different, which was unfortunately a rare thing this year. Look out for these guys, and catch them at The Bishop in Bloomington September 15.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t about to let the weekend go off without a kink. On Friday and Saturday, it was consistently in the upper 80s with few clouds. It sounds like perfect summer weather, but when you’re outside for 10 hours straight, it’s necessary to drink hella water and hide under the slim trees of Grant Park. As for Sunday, the festival was evacuated around 2 pm due to an approaching storm. Nothing causes more panic than being in a sea of thousands of people trying to escape severe weather in an orderly fashion. Luckily, we live in the Midwest, so the storm was done about 20 minutes later, and Lolla kept on with only a slightly delayed schedule.
There were so many bands that I would have loved to see but I either didn’t know about them or had conflicting schedules. I tried to go to Chicago this year with a serendipitous game plan, hoping to stumble upon the great artists. In other words, I was lazy and didn’t research the entire lineup. Lesson learned. If you ever find yourself at a three-day music festival with eight stages, it’s for the best to figure out a schedule.
That being said, here’s a list of artists that I saw that I would recommend to my fellow music-enjoyers:
Paul McCartney (duh)
The Tallest Man on Earth
The War on Drugs
TV on the Radio
Of Monsters and Men
Death From Above 1979
And here’s a list of bands that I wish I saw:
Tyler the Creator
Strand of Oaks
Toro Y Moi
Walk The Moon
First Aid Kit