Day 1 Recap : Lollapalooza 2014 : Grant Park, Chicago, IL

Written by Ryan Hickey

Back for our second consecutive year together at Lollapalooza, photographer Rachel Rubenstein and I journeyed into the festival in the early afternoon, ready for a big first day. After checking in, we headed to the Samsung Galaxy stage to see our first act of the day: Bombay Bicycle Club. The British indie outfit allowed us to warm up before we hit the hard stuff. Their smooth, poppy music is pleasant, but also offers a world beat influenced percussive quality. The gentle voice of lead singer Jack Steadman at times reminded me of both Gene Ween and The Radio Dept.’s Johan Duncanson.

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After taking cover for a brief rain shower, we walked across the park to the Grove stage to catch Jagwar Ma. Currently touring North America all the way from Australia, these guys pump out spacey, digital, electro-rock/dance music with heavy vocal effects and great stage energy. As the rainstorm had seemingly blown past the city, lead singer Gabriel Winterfield commented, “Did we just scare the weather away? I think we did!” The rain never returned to Grant Park after that, at least not on Friday. These guys seem to be steadily rising so be sure to catch them in your area sometime soon.

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Up next, we caught the infamous and currently pop-chart-dominating Iggy Azalea at Perry’s stage. The area was swarmed with youngsters preparing for the Australian born pop star to hit the stage. Iggy, whose birth name is actually Amethyst, ran onstage in skin-tight exercise gear, accompanied by a handful of backup dancers. She ran through popular hits such as “Bounce” and “Fancy,” keeping the crowd energized and entertained. After a few more songs, we bounced like Iggy and headed to the next show.

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Next on the Lakeshore stage was Chvrches, the electronic band from Scotland. Regardless of a somewhat awkward stage presence from lead singer Lauren Mayberry, their sound and style is jumpy and fun.

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Just a quick turnaround towards the Samsung Galaxy stage and we were on our way to see our next act, Broken Bells. Formed by Danger Mouse and Shins frontman James Mercer, I was excited to see the melodic sounds of this crazy good side project. I had no idea Danger Mouse was so versatile instrumentally, switching from keys to bass to drums throughout the set.

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We continued our back and forth stage game and turned back around to the Lakeshore stage yet again for the Swedish indie pop singer, Lykke Li. While she has not necessarily cited her as an influence, and I had not previously thought this, it seemed like she was projecting a ton of Stevie Nicks both vocally and performance style wise. She ran through material from her new record I Never Learn, including the lead single “No Rest For The Wicked.”

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Our final stop along the musical trail on day one was back at the Grove stage for Phantogram, who describes themselves as “street beat, psych pop.” The New York-based electro rock outfit delivers a fun and upbeat set, but also keeps things spacey and psychedelic with haunting, airy vocals and effects-tweaked instrumentation.

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Recap : Pitchfork Festival | Union Park, Chicago, IL | July 18th – 20th, 2014

After battling car trouble and visiting the best mechanic in Gary, we made it to Union Park just in time to catch Giorgio Moroder, the legendary Italian composer and producer of many disco era hits. He greeted the crowd with a big smile saying, “My name is Giovanni Giorgio, but you can call me Giorgio,” echoing what he says on the track “Giorgio by Moroder” on Daft Punk’s 2013 release Random Access Memories. Moroder carried the enthusiastic Pitchfork audience through a journey of some of the songs he wrote, produced or helped create, from “I Feel Love” to “Take My Breath Away.”

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Those in the crowd who were unfamiliar with his work were overheard commenting during his set:

“I love this guy. He’s so old. It’s amazing.”

“I feel like I’m watching my grandpa.”

“He’s actually not a DJ. He’s a composer, but just like, really famous.”

Giorgio thanked the crowd for their support and we prepared for the Friday headliner: Beck.

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Having never seen Beck, we were excited to see the unique songwriter and performer. The Scientologist rocker did not disappoint, opening up with the classic hit “Devil’s Haircut” followed by a variety of songs from his entire discography. After grabbing his acoustic guitar and playing some of his ‘softer’ material such as “Lost Cause,” Beck brought the energy level back up by paying homage to Giorgio Moroder with a cover of the Donna Summer hit “I Feel Love,” which Moroder had just played during his set.

The next morning, we enjoyed some much needed rest and brunch, and headed to the park early so we could capture the second day in its entirety. Our day of music started by catching the last half of a set by Brooklyn rapper Ka. His lyrics and presence are distinctly different from the ‘turn up’ style of the other hip hop acts who performed at this year’s festival.

Next on our agenda was Wild Beasts, a British band whose music provided an appropriately chill soundtrack to the early part of a warm and sunny Saturday.

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We ventured back to the Red Stage to see Cloud Nothings, which was originally a fake band created by lead singer and songwriter Dylan Baldi. The indie rock outfit from Cleveland rocked the stage with their straightforward, crisp post-punk sound, with drummer Jayson Gerycz acting like Animal from the Muppets.

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In an unprecedented move, rapper Pusha T arrived to the stage over 30 minutes late, but the crowd was quick to forgive him once his DJ started up. While running through his well-known tracks and feature verses, he followed the typical hip hop performance template of performing one-verse versions of tracks and repeatedly reminding everyone to make some noise. The mob of young females in mom jorts illuminated from their fascination with the former Clipse rapper.

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We headed over to see one of our most-anticipated shows of the weekend, tUnE-yArDs, the quirky project led by singer Merrill Garbus. I’m not sure why they use the alternating capital letters in their name, or where she got the hat Marty wore in Back to the Future II, or who did their makeup, but they put on an electric performance that had the crowd in a frenzy. Despite their appearance and sound, the lyrics are deeper than they might first appear. Songs such as Sink-O cover the broad topics such as ‘peace and love,’ though in a way that one would probably not expect. Garbus and the rest of the band delivered an incredibly enthusiastic performance that featured lots of fun, dancing, neon and wacky stage antics.

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We ventured over to the shaded Blue Stage to catch Kelela. Early in her set, she was thanking the crowd and acknowledging her being humbled by their presence and enthusiasm. She then sang original, chilling lyrics over the instrumental to the Jay-Z/Rick Ross track “F&%k With Me You Know I Got It.”

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Next on the Green Stage was Detroit native Danny Brown, the comical, light-hearted yet lyrically talented rapper. His DJ hyped up the crowd with a pre-show mini set of popular trap rap tracks before Danny came out, tongue sticking out and hair dyed green. He led the crowd through an energetic set of favorites such as “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” and “I Will.”

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While waiting to hear the next act, the highly anticipated performance from St. Vincent, we people watched for a bit as everyone shifted from stage to stage. In my opinion, St. Vincent’s Annie Clark was one of the most talent performers at this year’s Pitchfork Festival. She truly has everything a performer wants to have: beauty, dance moves, an incredible stage presence, a great voice and some sick guitar skills. One song featured elements of “Shout,” the pop classic from the 80’s synth pop group Tears For Fears. While our photographer headed to the next photo pit, I chatted with a group of cool folks for a few minutes, discussing our fondness for St. Vincent. The guy with whom I was chatting noticed my press credential and asked who we wrote for. I told him, “My Old Kentucky Blog,” and he responded by telling me that he religiously listens to @MyOldKYBlog Blog Radio show on Sirius XMU radio. Thanks for the conversation and kind words, and keep listening!

To wrap up the day, I headed back to the Blue Stage to meet up with our Ace with the Canon and catch part of FKA Twigs. New to me and fairly new to the scene, the London-based former dancer has a soulful, spacey and mystical style that somewhat resembles trip hop, but is also difficult to perfectly describe. Twigs, aka Tahliah Barnett, has a gorgeous voice and I’m hoping to get the chance to see her again in a smaller, indoor venue. Perhaps we’ll see MOKB bring her to Indy?

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Our third and final day started under a cloud of fatigue while catching the San Francisco-based post-metal group Deafheaven. This band is intense all around, from lead singer George Clarke’s piercing stares to their dynamic sounds that range from shoegazey mellowness to black metal screams.

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Next, we headed over to catch the quirky rapper Earl Sweatshirt. Clearly a part of the younger generation of rappers who have embraced an entirely different style from their hip hop forefathers, Earl instructed the crowd to sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” before beginning his set. He referred to his DJ as his “school shooter” and went into his song “Kill,” perhaps not the classiest of moves but the crowd grew even more hyped. After pointing out an unassuming person in the crowd he jokingly called “Brett,” he went into the song “Molasses” and had the crowd singing along to the hook. I laughed as people even older than me sat and watched Earl’s set.

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Next, we wandered back over to the Blue Stage to catch the pop rock sounds of Dum Dum Girls. They clearly have drawn inspiration from the punk era, as their name borrows from both The Vaselines and Iggy Pop. Their sound had me wondering if they may have some influence from the early work of the B-52s. We caught a few minutes of their set and headed back over to the Red Stage.

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I made my debut in the photo pit for Schoolboy Q, aka the ‘Man of the Year.’ His performance energy was top notch, constantly moving around the stage and keeping the crowd’s attention the entire time.

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We then walked over to wait for Real Estate. It seemed like there were some sound issues at first, as the audio was at a much lower level than the other acts, but they nonetheless sounded great. More on the mellow side of things compared to their co-performers at Pitchfork, Real Estate has recently gained my attention following their 2014 release, Atlas. Their sound is somewhat of a pleasant psychedelic affair, and mildly reminiscent of fellow New Jersey-ans, Yo La Tengo. Their set included a cover of The Nerves’ song, “Paper Dolls.”

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Our Pitchfork 2014 experience concluded with the one and only Grimes. The female crowd at Union Park flocked to the stage to see their indie pop hero, and she performed with non-stop high energy. One can only assume that her pink leg warmers were specifically intended to support the aerobics-like performance that was filled with dancing by Grimes as well as her Jazzercise backup dancers. While she sipped something from a coffee mug on stage, I could only think one thing: she needs more energy? Simply put, Grimes killed it, frantically turning effects knobs on her keyboard synths, rarely pausing for a break.

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Pitchfork 2014 was another one for the books, and we look forward to returning to Chicago for the festival in 2015!

Festival : Fun Fun Fun Fest : November 7th -9th | Auditorium Shores | Austin, TX

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Pound for pound what may be the best festival in the land, Fun Fun Fun Fest, has announced the lineup for this years incarnation. It takes place in Austin, TX from November 7th -9th this year at Auditorium Shores and Butler Park. Just like previous years, the variety is incredible with multiple decades and genres of music covered.

The lineup will include the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel, Nas, Judas Priest, Death From Above 1979, Flying Lotus, Death Cab for Cutie, the New Pornographers, Girl Talk, Death Grips, Sky Ferreira, Sun Kil Moon, Deafheaven, Dinosaur Jr., Madlib and Freddie Gibbs, Run the Jewels, Angel Olsen, Guided By Voices, Yo La Tengo, Ginuwine, Dum Dum Girls, Majical Cloudz, 2 Chainz, Iceage, Foxygen, Courtney Barnett, First Aid Kit, Ryan Hemsworth, Black Lips, Metz, Pallbearer, King Tuff, King Diamond, Julianna Barwick, Tinariwen, J Mascis, Alt-J, Thundercat, Pissed Jeans, the Blood Brothers, Mas Ysa, Gary Numan, Chelsea Wolfe, Lunice, SZA, and so many more.

The festival will also feature a comedy stage with its lineup being announced on July 1st. Tickets go on sale today.

Festival : Forecastle : Louisville, KY | July 18th – 20th

It looks like Louisville’s little festival, Forecastle, is all-grown up and ready to make it known that it is more than just a regional festival. They just announced the full lineup that will take place at the beautiful Waterfront Park on July 18th -20th.

To say the lineup is stacked, is an understatement. You will get to see headliners Beck, Jack White, The Replacements all the way down to St. Lucia, Sharon Van Etten, Sun Kil Moon, and so much more. Really, we could keep going on about all of the highlights. You can get the full details here along with your tickets. For all of you who waited until the last minute in years past, we suggest you get them early. This is sure to sell out!

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Recap : Lollapalooza 2013 Day 3 : Grant Park | Chicago, IL

Lollapalooza 2013 – Day 3
Regardless of one’s festival stamina, by the third day, the wear & tear can start to kick in by the third and final day of Lollapalooza 2013. We arrived near the beginning of the lineup once again, albeit sluggish, sleepy and sore. While we missed Palma Violets, we pressed on through the fatigue to see Wild Nothing on the Red Bull Sound Select Stage at 2:00 pm. Jack Tatum’s dream pop band appealed immediately to me, probably because the group’s sound is so clearly and heavily influenced by 80’s pop and new wave, in particular New Order. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tatum’s songwriting has also been influenced by Yo La Tengo, as their distinct indie sound seemed to be evident in some of Wild Nothing’s set. At one point, Tatum acknowledged his excitement for getting to play on the same stage as The Cure (who later headlined the RBSS Stage), and that they are one of his ‘all-time favorite bands.’

Saltlick's Lollapalooza 2013 Day 3 album on Photobucket

Photos by Rachel Rubenstein

As if we did not spend enough time there on Saturday, we walked back across the park to the Grove Stage to see MS MR. However, unlike during most of the sets on Saturday, the Grove Stage was packed for MS MR. The New York City duo, led by vocalist Lizzy Plapinger, were playing as a four-piece outfit with a drummer and guitarist. Plapinger is either strongly influenced by Stevie Nicks or my mind is playing tricks on me. Not only does Plapinger have an eerily similar vocal delivery, her stage presence is also akin to that of the 70’s rock diva. Dressed in a tie-dye outfit, she led the audience through an enchanting set including ‘No Trace,’ hit single ‘Hurricane’ and a cover of the LCD Soundsystem classic ‘Dance Yrself Clean.’ Plapinger swayed back and forth projecting a slightly country voice to a crowd of devoted fans.

We marched back over to the Bud Light Stage for the much-anticipated Two Door Cinema Club. As early as twenty minutes prior to start time, people had filled the area surrounding the stage to see the Northern Ireland trio well-known for its style of up-tempo, crisp pop rock. The band appeared onstage with lead vocalist Alex Trimble donning a suit & tie and drinking a glass of white wine—one of the more gangster moves I’ve seen in some time from a musician. The band wasted no time and went right into ‘Sleeps Alone’ from their latest release, Beacon. In between an array of songs from their two full-length albums, Trimble takes a break to speak to the crowd: “This is our second time here…it’s such a great festival and we’re so happy to be playing for you guys.”

We left Two Door Cinema Club and hiked across the park to Perry’s to catch Dog Blood. One thing was clear about the Perry’s Stage for the majority of the weekend: the only thing that could have made me feel older would have been actually showing up at a high school, or simply one of the frenzied kids just walking up to me and pointing out that I am old. The maniacal crowd eagerly awaited the arrival of Dog Blood, a collaborative effort between dubstep master Skrillex and Boys Noize. Feeling like a chaperone at the prom, I walked close to the stage but stayed to the side of the crowd knowing that I would have been eaten alive had I tried to get into that madness. Our photog Rachel Rubes braved the insanity and went into the photo pit, where she experienced revelations about today’s generation of partiers and bonded with other photographers who were equally amazed at the scene that had developed prior to the show. The stage crew hoisted a large, black banner that covered the entire front of the stage, completely blocking the DJ booth and subsequently, any sight of Dog Blood. The duo came out on stage, and just as the beat was about to drop on the first track, down went the banner, revealing the stage and sending the crowd into an absolute roar over a track with the hook “throw your middle fingers up if you feel me.” The youthful audience was going nuts! We departed from the insanity at Perry’s and headed back north to the Bud Light Stage for the final group of shows for the night.

Vampire Weekend was next on our list, and by the time we arrived at the stage, there had already been a larger crowd than we had seen gather for any act up to this point at the festival. Rachel bolted for the photo pit and I stood back watching the crowd swell by the minute. Following a horn intro that reminded me of the Olympics opening ceremony music, they kicked off the set with ‘Cousins’ and the crowd burst into a dance party. The stage backdrop was elaborate and strange, featuring a floral pattern that looked like the wallpaper in an elderly woman’s bathroom, several large white pillars and a mirror in the middle. The band’s sound is not-so-subtly influenced by the likes of The Beatles and Paul Simon, in particular the ‘Graceland’ era. Lead singer Ezra Koenig took a moment to address the crowd: “It’s good to be back in Chicago…only this time we have a new album out!” The set continued with a mix of older and new material, and we finally pulled away to head back to the Grove Stage.

For the majority of the day, Rachel and I had been trying to anticipate just how ridiculous the 2 Chainz (formerly known as Tity Boi from the Atlanta rap group Playaz Circle) show would be. Twenty minutes before the show started and the crowd was already losing their minds, desperately shoving their way towards the front. His DJ came out on stage ten minutes before the scheduled show start and began hyping up the crowd on the mic, playing a medley of 2 Chainz tracks (this used to always be a total gaffe to play an artist’s songs before said artist took the stage, but times are different now). He cued up ‘Rotation’ and asked the crowd “how many blunts y’all smoked today?” and the crowd responded with cheers. Finally, the 6’5 rapper ran out on stage and the madness began. Actually a decent rapper but certainly heavy on hype and image, he led the crowd through a typical hip hop show that featured first-verse only versions of songs that stopped abruptly. Nonetheless, the ever-growing audience continued their craze as if their childhood hero was onstage and the entire Grove Stage was a twerkin.’

Like most everyone else in the older population at the festival, we headed to the RBSS Stage to see The Cure. It seemed like the entire city of Chicago (minus the under 30 crowd) was there waiting, as people were sprawled all over the area that surrounded the stage. We caught the first part of the show and were treated to an experience we may not get to see again. Robert Smith may look older but he sounds incredible. Always known for great songs but perhaps underappreciated for the quality of musicianship in the band, The Cure played to an enthusiastic audience who sat listening to Smith’s haunting vocals that once inspired an entire generation. Just as I was noting down that Smith’s songs all seem to center around the concept of love, the band broke into the timeless hit, ‘Love Song.’ Also noted during the performance were stickers on Smith’s guitar that included Amnesty International’s logo and a pro-choice sticker that read “My Body, My Rights.”

I reluctantly left in the middle of The Cure’s set to head back across the park to reconvene with Rachel, who had gone to shoot the Phoenix show. I walked into the stage area during ‘Lisztomania’ and enjoyed that and a few more songs from the Parisian pop rock band before we slowly walked our tired bodies out of the festival one last time.

This was my first Lollapalooza experience and overall, it was thoroughly impressive. The lineup was fantastic and perfectly blended today’s relevant artists with a few less current bands such as The Cure and Nine Inch Nails. If I could have changed one aspect of the festival, and this is probably just the old guy in me, it would have been the size and type of the crowd. Certainly just a casual observation and not supported by any data, it seemed that about 75% or more of the crowd was college age or younger. While I have no problem with this in and of itself, it did create a feeling that it was more about the party than the music. Also, there were times it just felt like there were too many people (see: Lana Del Rey at the Grove Stage). To each their own, though. We had a great time and would definitely return for another future Lollapalooza. Hats off to C3 for a superbly produced festival that seemed to have little to no glitches in the operations. Time to sleep this one off for a few days.

-Recap by Ryan Hickey

Recap : Lollapalooza 2013 Day 2 : Grant Park | Chicago, IL

Lollapalooza 2013 – Day 2
After a long day at the festival on Friday, we headed back to the room for a meatloaf supper and Wheel of Fortune reruns to rest up for another day-long affair. Saturday began for us at just before 1:00pm, kicking off with the southern duo Shovels & Rope. The band’s sweet, country sound was like having buttered corn on the cob to start to the day, and who wouldn’t be enticed with choruses like “come to Carolina and yer drinks are on me” (the band is from Charleston, SC). The set included instrument switches between the two, and vocalist Cary Ann Hearst maintained a smile the entire time. Aside from enjoying the music, all I could think was “tonight, whiskey will make an appearance” (hint: my prediction came true).

Saltlick's Lollapalooza 2013 Day 2 album on Photobucket

Photos by Rachel Rubenstein

It was just a short hop (all the way across the park) to the Petrillo Stage to see Reignwolf. Lead singer Jordan Cook took the stage alone at first, beginning the set with a triple-threat combination of guitar, vocals and drums in a bluesy song that included improvised mentions of Chicago and Lollapalooza. His raspy, inarticulate voice carries a tremendous amount of soul and is reminiscent of southern rock singer John Bell of Widespread Panic. The band delivers a no-nonsense style of rock & roll that would remind a virgin listener of a Jack White project, and Cook has the charisma required to elevate a band to the top.

During a transitional period at the press lounge, we found out that there were some changes to the schedule that affected the Grove Stage. The cancellations included Death Grips, who were making their second non-appearance in two days, as well as Azealia Banks.

Following a brief and exhilarating stop at the Soundwave tent where we participated in a photobooth, we headed back to the Grove Stage for St. Lucia–now in a new time slot because of the aforementioned lineup changes. I was not incredibly familiar with the band, but was immediately put into a better mood when they started playing. Although the start was somewhat awkward and a lot less than perfect (seemed like there may have been some sound issues) the band began a set that I could only describe as ‘summer music.’ It made me feel like sipping lemon spritzer and dancing around in pastel clothing with no shoes. Their sound could be paralleled to electro-pop bands such as MGMT, but again this is from the perspective of one who had not previously heard more than a taste. During the 3rd song, ‘Closer Than This’ lead singer Jean-Philip Grobler encouraged the crowd to ‘sing along if they knew the words’. Their music was a perfect accompaniment to the sunny Grove Stage lawn.

We engaged in obligatory hydration then headed back once again to the Grove Stage (yes, a pattern is developing) for Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Upon arrival one could tell that this was going to be underappreciated, as the size of the crowd was clearly not up to par with the other shows we had seen up to that point. This may have been due to the fact that thousands were sprinting to Perry’s Stage to catch Baauer, but we nestled in to check out the garage rock trio. Their set was dominated by intense guitar solos and boundless energy, as well as an abundant sound for a three-piece band, an observation that was randomly echoed a few minutes later by a friend who I ran into.

Now approximately halfway through the weekend and with a string of bands yet to cover on our schedule, we opted for a getaway in the media tent to charge our phones and rest our bones. During this rest stop we listened to Eric Church, a pure country act who was performing on the Lake Shore Stage. Numerous people in the media area were preparing to cover the Kendrick Lamar show, and we were among that group. We made the journey along with other dedicated media folks across the park to the Bud Light Stage.

I went into this show with low expectations because frankly, most rap artists do not deliver well in the live setting. Kendrick’s set was highly anticipated, as his record was probably the rap album of the year in 2012, at least in the court of public opinion. The Compton native also has ties to Chicago, and the fans were rushing to catch his performance. His DJ, who also serves as his hype man came out first, prompting the crowd to do the usual pre-show routine at a hip hop show. Kendrick came out to the stage, backed by a drummer and guitarist in addition to the DJ, and instructed the crowd to put their hands in the air (yawn). It was interesting to see the change from Kendrick’s studio effort that features mellow and often times trippy vocals to the live setting where he followed suit of most other rappers , running back and forth yelling into the mic. Despite some annoying, long-overused hip hop stage tactics (if we’re feelin’ it, we’ll put our hands up), Kendrick navigated through an arrangement of his popular songs and the live band added a layer that could propel the talented lyricist to another level. The highlight for me had to be seeing young girls waving their arms around singing along to the warm lyrics “P_$$y and Patron Got Me Feelin’ Alright.”

Our next stop was, you guessed it, the Grove Stage for HAIM. The three-sister trio from LA was without a doubt the surprise performance (for me, at least) of the weekend. Simply put, these girls absolutely killed it. Their vocals have a folky, country influence but the music is most definitely not described as such. Upon taking the stage, the girls in the audience let out a scream that was similar to that of when Lana Del Rey took the same stage the night before. The band has an extreme affinity for what they do, and they are damn good at it. They showed their passion for the Lollapalooza experience when they asked “How they f__k are we feeling, Chicago?!” and then told a story about how they had dreamed of playing the festival since they first attended in 2008. Definitely check them out the next time you get the chance if you have not already, or even if you have.

Supreme Cuts was scheduled to play on the Petrillo Stage at 7:45pm, but after some obvious on-stage confusion, they announced that their computer wasn’t working and they might not be able to play (unfortunately, there was no Apple Store or Genius Bar onsite). They continued to fuss with their Mac to no avail, and finally regrettably announced that they could not perform, but that they were going to let Chicago R&B collective JODY do a set instead. This show was a disaster and I know the guys in Supreme Cuts felt terrible, so we won’t pour salt on their wound by describing it in any further detail. I know what it can be like to be on that side of things and I felt for them.

Finally, we headed back to the Grove Stage, our home away from home on Day 2. This time we were there to see the replacement act for Azealia Banks, the LA-based Bad Things, a band with a recognizable face on lead guitar: Olympic gold medalist Shaun White. The straightforward rock act took the stage with a spirited fervor, and fortunately gave no special attention to Shaun White. If you did not know he was in the band, you would never think twice about his role in it–he is simply another member of the band, and most would not recognize him without the familiar, signature long, red hair. High energy vocals from frontman David LeDuke led the way to a great set to a small but appreciative crowd to end our second day at Lollapalooza. We look forward to a third and final day tomorrow!

-Recap by Ryan Hickey

Recap : Lollapalooza 2013 Day 1 : Grant Park | Chicago, IL

Thursday: Arrival
After we pulled into Chicago Thursday afternoon, I headed up to Wicker Park to stash our vehicle (blue collar parking). I stopped into Big Star and of course, had an obligatory margarita before heading back downtown. We headed to the pre-event media check-in reception at Public and enjoyed a few complimentary greyhounds after we grabbed our credentials. We then headed to The Vic to see Hot Chip, an absolutely fantastic kickoff to Lollapalooza weekend. Bear Mountain opened up and had the crowd relatively well engaged, despite the fact that the venue was only half-full and everyone was clearly there to see the headliner. Having never seen Hot Chip, I knew I was in for a treat in terms of the music but did not know what to expect from their performance. Needless to say, this was an outstanding show from start to finish and the crowd never lost their enthusiasm. Impressed by the band’s musical talent as well as their ability to maintain an obscure, odd presence while absolutely jamming, Hot Chip is most definitely one of the better shows I’ve seen in the last few years. Seeing this intimate show at The Vic left us with a feeling that there was no way they could replicate that experience at Lolla the following evening. Regardless, we felt like we received a real treat getting to see the Thursday night show.

Friday: Day One
Thanks to the hotel Keurig, we were able to kickstart the day appropriately and get a little work done before heading into the festival. We walked swiftly with excitement down a hot and humid downtown so we could arrive right at the beginning and see The Neighbourhood on the Petrillo Stage. Experiencing virtually no wait to enter the gate, we walked in and headed straight to the stage to find a crowd already gathered for the show. Pusha T’s ‘Numbers On The Board’ came on the house system, the crowd responded with cheers, and a few minutes later The Neighbourhood took the stage. Lead singer Jesse Rutherford greeted the crowd with a quick “Chicago, what up!” and the band began an energetic set.

Saltlick's Lollapalooza 2013 Day 1 album on Photobucket

Photos by Rachel Rubenstein

Next we ventured across the park to the Lake Shore Stage to catch Robert DeLong. DeLong’s stage presence is highly charismatic and upbeat, as he does live vocals and percussion over self-produced beats that incorporate elements of various EDM styles. His trademark orange ‘X’ is placed on everything on the stage, including him. The crowd was getting a head start on the day as they danced to songs such as his hit single ‘Global Concepts.’
Up next was Keys N Krates at EDM-centric Perry’s Stage. A long intro slowly led up to a drop, cueing the mostly-underage crowd to break into a massive dance party with the sun intensely beaming down. The party had started and it was merely 1:00pm, and Keys N Krates led the young crowd through a series of remixes with a distinct hip hop style.
To prove that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we trotted back to the Lake Shore Stage to see the bubbly Icona Pop. A large crowd swelled into the area surrounding the stage as the female duo took the stage, delivering the most poppy lyrics imaginable (after all, Pop is in their name). Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo have more fun in one hour than some people do in a year. The Swedish duo kept the crowd jumping throughout the set, and at one point spoke in between songs about their affinity for ‘making out’ while encouraging everyone to have as much fun as possible at Lollapalooza.

After a short break, Father John Misty took the stage with a totally unique style relative to the other bands on the bill today. Upon walking out on stage, he made a comment along the lines of “what is this dance music?” making a reference to Monsta who was currently playing in the distance on the Perry’s Stage. FJM’s countrified rock was a nice change, and the performance was stellar, complete with an assortment of dance moves. There was even an intimate session with a unicorn from the audience.

After the break, we headed around the corner to see Crystal Castles, a personal fave and indie girl crush of our photographer, Rachel Rubes. The band walked out onto a haze-filled stage, Alice gripping a bottle of Jameson in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She takes a ‘healthy swig’ of the Jamo and begins crawling towards the front of the stage, tossing the cigarette, crawling up the mic stand. When she reaches her feet, they erupt into ‘Plague’ from their latest release, ‘III’. It was difficult to decipher if the vocals were intentionally muffled or if there were issues with the sound, but their sound relies heavily on high levels of distortion, particularly in her vocals. Alice danced around constantly, appearing like an aerobics instructor on copious amounts of drugs. The crowd kept their hands up as she paraded around the stage and out into the crowd. After a mic malfunction, she threw it at the stage and hopped back up to continue the set. Now wearing muddy leggings from her crowd venture, she raises the bottle of Jameson again and takes another long pull, drawing a supportive response from the crowd. Alice, along with Father John Misty were clearly the most dramatic performers up to this point.

One of the more comical observations on the first day was all the younger folks sporting brand new shoes along with a look of surprise when they had to walk through mud anywhere there was not concrete. We took our muddy-feet back over to where we started the day to check out the eclectic Thievery Corporation. At this point it was obvious the crowd at Lollapalooza was growing rapidly, and we weaved through a sea of people to get there. They treated the crowd to their usual style set, incorporating elements of hip hop, trip hop, reggae and funk. At one point it sounded like the JBs with rude boys on the mic. I had not yet seen Thievery so it was great to get to catch them.

Facing dire straits with a phone battery at 8% (I simply could not get ahead of the curve on this), we turned around to the Bud Light Stage to see the highly anticipated Queens Of The Stone Age. The show started with a spacey intro that featured glass-breaking sound effects and other trippy sounds. The band wasted no time and immediately went into a blazing set of classics and new material. The crowd, who clearly represented the older faction at Lollapalooza, was most appreciative of the energy brought to the stage by QOTSA. “We’ve been waiting a long time to catch up with you,” the band commented.

A brief visit to the Perry’s Stage during Flux Pavilion was like going to a dubstep prom. We were the oldest people around by at least 10 years in most cases (more in my case) so we had to move on. Plus, we were dead set on getting a good spot to see Lana Del Rey. This was the one artist that was poorly placed—the Grove Stage was just too small for her, and it was uncomfortably packed. The female contingent screamed like it was Beatles concert in the 60’s when Lana took the stage. Her presence is quite magnificent, and she began her seduction of the crowd. After ‘Blue Jeans’ Lana asked for a cigarette, which one of her crew members provided. Due to bro-overload in the crowd, we left a few minutes before she finished so we could catch the last 30 minutes of Nine Inch Nails. After performing a series of hit songs that were absolutely shaking the roof (even though we were outdoors) the set ended abruptly with no audible ‘thank you’ or any other indication that it was over. We headed back to the hotel to recap the day and yes, charge our phones. Looking forward to Saturday!

-Recap by Ryan Hickey

MOKB@Roskilde : Day 4 : Dude, Where’s My Bike?

Hoping to capitalize on Day 3’s lessons, we showed up early on Day 4 with better shoes, a more positive attitude and a plan. Let’s face it, there was just too much music to possibly ingest, so not wanting to stuff ourselves on bread only to neglect the entree, we poured over the day’s schedule like generals preparing for a pre-dawn attack, trying to figure out how to win this war of musical attrition. After all, Roskilde 2013 was serving up krautronics for dinner.

Sadly, we failed miserably, per usual.

First stop was one of the smaller stages for American man of letters, Henry Rollins. Still disappointed that Hank’s musical years are behind him, we never fail to be impressed by the guy’s stamina with mic in his hand. The crowd was SRO, and with temperatures approaching a level at which one could comfortably bake blueberry muffins, this was going to be a challenge. Happily we survived the entire set, which typical to form, found him railing against racism and homophobia, while applauding world travel and (perhaps) eating rat livers.

Following Rollins’ well-received tirade, we sauntered over to the main stage to be reminded why we so dislike James Blake and his electronic snooze fests. Retreating, we made time over to see Southern stoner rawkers, The Sword. This four piece has been garnering more than a few accolades lately for their newest release, Apocryphon, but on this day it was all about big loud live guitars, much to the glee of the assembled sunburned masses. If you like your riffs big and your drums pummeling, make it a point to catch these guys next time they crash your town.

Caught 15 minutes of Azealia Banks‘ set. Like the EP, but she just doesn’t bring it live. I’ll never get those 15 minutes back.

Confident that James Blake had been removed from the stage, we made our way back and got good and situated for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Now, I have a strange relationship with this band. The first time I saw the cover of B.M.R.C., I was convinced that, here was a band I would certainly like. Unfortunately, the grooves within left me nonplussed. The pattern repeated itself with each successive BRMC release, and eventually I just wrote them off, so you can imagine my surprise that the trio really grabbed my by the short and curlies live. I’d love to be able to exactly chronicle their performance, but given the fact that I don’t know the names of any of their songs (remember? nonplussed), I’ll have to suffice by saying that they played very well and created a most pleasant din. Probably have to dig those records out again.

Having found a comfortable spot leaning against a barrier, we were more than happy to stick around for Queens of the Stone Age. …Like Clockwork has taken up residence in my work CD player, so I was eager to see what Josh Homme and friends (sadly, they didn’t pack Dave Grohl or Mark Lanegan) brought to the party. They came screeching out of the gate with the aptly-titled Feel Good Hit Of The Summer and didn’t let off the gas until the main stage crowd said uncle. The band literally melted the tastiest morsels from their impressive catalog, coming up for air only briefly for Homme to take up residence at the electric piano for a haunting reading of The Vampyre Of Time and Money before diving into the second half of their all-too-short set.

I had every intention of getting over to see one of my faves, Calexico, but I couldn’t tear myself away from QoTSA. Sorry Joey. Sorry John.

Once the festival staff finished sweeping up the cremains of the post-QoTSA main stage, there was nothing left to do but hang out and wait for Deutsch electronica pioneers, and one of my all-time heavyweights, Kraftwerk. I was lucky enough to see the hyper-sentient quartet five years ago in a suburban Twin Cities stripmall, which always struck me as more than a little odd, so I was happy as a clam to be checking them out at Roskilde. The fact that this was the worldwide debut of their 3-D stage show? Well, that was just the icing on the robotic cake.

If you’re not familiar with Kraftwerk, well, let’s just say that you either really love’em or you really hate’em, and despite the fact that I endlessly sing their praises, my ladyfriend continues to write them off as “four old guys standing behind keyboards.” Of course, there is some truth to that, but the setlist was phenomenal on this Scandinavian night. The Robot, Pocket Calculator, The Model, Autobahn; the “hits” just kept coming until audience members were either orgasmic or asleep. And as the last blips and bleeps of of 1983 dissolved into the Danish sky, I realized that Roskilde 2013, for me at least, was over.

Let me end by throwing some Roskilde numbers in your direction.

1 – Folks I saw tossed out of the festival
2 – Naked guys in the swimming lake
2.5 – Hours waiting in line to get in (sorry, I’m still crabby about it)
3 – Joints (that’s it?!)
4 – Members of Metallica
5 – Beers you can carry in one of these things
6 – People in furry animal suits
7 – US Dollars for a cup of ice cold Toborg
8 – Days of the festival
9 – Times I had to visit a P-Tree on Day 4
10 – Time Kraftwerk took the stage
195 – Shows
Too many to count – Smilers

Much love to the Roskilde 2013 staff and volunteers, and of course, our gracious Danish hosts.