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

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