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.’
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