Lollapalooza is one of the only festivals of its size and calibre that is not relegated to isolated hinterlands so as not
to wake any neighbours. Instead, it is celebrated in the heart of vibrant downtown of Chicago.
Thus, this year, skyscrapers reverberate with sound and lights blink and glimmer to the live acts of Pearl Jam,
Daft Punk, SilverChair, M.I.A, Iggy & the Stooges,
Ben Harper, Interpol and My Morning Jacket.
As the event starts the
crowds pack in to watch Ghostland Observatory, The Polyphonic Spree, Sparklehorse
and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Midday, the Sri-Lankan-raised Brit rapper M.I.A. spews
her off-the-cuff, Ragga Electronic rap from a weary throat. Meanwhile, Silversun Pickups’ drill out
their dream-like LA-spun distorted guitar sounds. They may not be of the ‘brand-spankin-new’ or ‘repeat
all-day every day thank you’ genus but their live show induced the audience into meditative head-bobbing and brow-furrowed
Always a charmer, G. Love and Special Sauce delivers favourites like ‘Cold Beverage’
and ‘Baby’s Got Sauce’ to a chanting audience. Perry Farrell, who founded Lollapalooza
back in 1991 while still a member of Jane’s Addiction, rocks out divinely with his band Satellite
Party (though several complain that the Jane’s Addiction covers are distracting). Electronic
king James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem bounds around onstage with a thumping dance punk performance
even in daylight.
As the first day draws to a close, the always pleasant, Ben Harper appeals to the
crowds with soothing, sweet acoustic lulls. Predictably, the highlight of the day is the electro pop robot demons Daft
Punk and their chaotic, synthesized beats. I have to pinch my arm to convince myself, no, I’m not tripping,
despite the cult-like undulating crowd and space-ship semblance of the set.
As the second day unravels Satin
Peaches, Pete Yorn, and Tapes n Tapes all play early sets. The other hung-over
souls and I arrive just in time to relish an electrifying, rock-out-like-its-1995 performance by the Australian band Silverchair.
Lead singer, Daniel Johns, is in the Spin Tent after the show and he says he was happy to be back on tour
after a hiatus. Judging from the crowd, so are his manifold fans.
Even the cool kids with their blu-blockers end up
ruining their kicks in the rain to see the young sovereign princes of new wave rock, Cold War Kids. The boys
seem to enjoy playing as much as their audience enjoys watching. Guitarist Jonnie Russell and bassist Matt
Maust riff together like young chums while Nathan Willet hops from microphone to piano to guitar
with ease while belting hits like ‘Hang Me Up To Dry’.
Karen O saunters on the stage appropriately
geared as Dracula’s bride for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs set. The performance, as always live, is an adrenaline-enraged
high-speed ride. As the sun sets the rain deters many from fully trooping through mud to Interpol. But thousands
get lost in Muse’s wonderland of arpeggiated guitar and ethereal compilations.
most attendees’ paces and faces as day three kicks in. Regardless, Lupe Fiasco manages to get his Chicago
fans in uproar on the AT & T stage, where he unleashes three new including ‘Superstardom’ as he shares the
stage with rapper Gemini. Does anyone else appreciate the irony of Amy Winehouse singing
‘Rehab’ while she is wading in a size 0 dress? I love the girl and her ability to bring us back to the 1960s with
or without a beehive - but she needs to eat. I would like to see her perform for years to come.
The Adidas stage is
again bad luck for some performers as Paolo Nutini struggles as much as Regina Spektor
had the day before to capture the audience. Thankfully, Ben Harper leaps onto the tiny Kidapalooza stage
to play a surprise show with kids’ tiny little hands waving in the air as he strummed. Priceless.
Iggy Pop allows floods of guests onstage, as he does every show - swell. The new Australian-New York Band
MINK, currently touring with Satellite Party, are a surprise Sunday delight, with a hard
rock edge and catchy hooks. Dynamic frontman Neal Carlson leaps wails, and winks at the audience, as bubbles
float through the air. His band mates’ riff on electric guitars and rumble on bass as blood-covered circus performers’
frisk on stage to drummer Stella’s infectious beats. At day end, fireworks fill the sky as Pearl
Jam roar on the AT & T Stage with Eddie Vedder adlibbing to Pink Floyd’s
‘Another Brick on the Wall’.
By definition, Lollapalooza means “an impressive
or wonderful person or thing.” That being said, I think that wiry filament of energy, Perry Farrell
should pat himself on his back right now. Asides from some no-shows (CSS we missed you!), the August heat-wave
mixed wonderfully with the sporadic showers and the ludicrous distance between one end of the festival to another (next year,
I am petitioning for a golf cart or free beer mile marks); Lolla fulfilled its goal of showcasing impressive,
wonderful people and things.