Live Music

Report From Lollapalooza

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One of the best festivals in the world

The Set List

By Brian Washburn

Festivals can be about experiences, the people you are with, the atmosphere or simply just having a good time all day and all night. While Lollapalooza might encompass all of those things, that is not what the festival is ultimately about, which is the music. With headlining acts like ’80s icons Depeche Mode and ’90s metal band Tool to up-and-comers Kings of Leon, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Killers, Lollapalooza knows the crowd it caters to. And it delivers.

While Bonnaroo and Wakarusa offer camping for the concert attendees, Lolla is situated in Grant Park in the middle of downtown Chicago, not exactly a camping zone. However, the scenery of the skyscrapers and the atmosphere provide the three-day festival with exactly what everybody is looking for, an epic time. This is all ensured by the organization and hard work of the Lolla people. Everything is planned, prepared and nothing (it seems) went wrong.

Beginning on a Friday, the day started off cloudy with a nice breeze. This was perfect for the first set of the day from Georgia’s Manchester Orchestra, one of the hottest up-and-coming indie acts around. The band played a rocking 45-minute set to an unusually large crowd. Apparently Lollers had heard of the band and knew of their rising status. The gritty sound was matched with singer Andy Hull’s gritty voice. He performed brilliantly throughout most of the set until it was apparent that he was about out of gas.

By the time the next band I chose to see came to the stage, The Gaslight Anthem, rain had started pouring from the sky. The rain combined with the cool breeze made for a cold first day of Lolla. But even the rain couldn’t ruin the first day of Lolla, which was possibly the best.

After The Gaslight Anthem gave the surprisingly big crowd an hour of their New Jersey rock anthems, techno-gods STS9 gave the crowd something to dance about and indie titans, The Decemberists, performed what could only be described as a theater production. While the production was intense and well-played, the band only performed songs from their new album, much to the disappointment of their longtime fans (and this columnist). However, the night was not over yet and the performance of the day, weekend, month and maybe the year hadn’t even been performed, yet … Kings of Leon.

Kings of Leon have blown up. They have graced the cover of Rolling Stone, played on national hit stations and performed on the Today Show. But nothing compared to the crowd they ushered in at Lolla Friday night. With the biggest crowd of the weekend, the Tennesee band performed two hours of nonstop rock and nobody left disappointed. KOL’s set proved they deserve every bit of recognition they are receiving.

And that was only the first day of Lolla. While the rain of day one threatened to dampen the mood of Lollers, days two and three tried to burn them to the ground courtesy of the sun and the humidity.

Although day two featured headliners the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (filling in for the Beastie Boys) and Tool, it did not pack the punch day one did. However, there were many highlights, including the ultra-trippy and ultra-creepy set by Tool, who knows how to perform and put on a production. More rock and a bit of punk and metal entered the Lolla grounds when Coheed and Cambria and Rise Against put on intense shows that got the crowd moving, but in a more violent way, if you know what I mean.

Day three was in contention with day one as the best day for music. Sunday at Lolla featured an indie fest for indie lovers capped off with a performance from rock-pop mainstays The Killers.

Even though The Killers put on an amazing performance, it lacked a bit of the big-stage production people were expecting from the band. Besides, the band was upstaged by new indie mainstays, Vampire Weekend, who put on a performance that was rivaled only by that of Kings of Leon. Their unique blend of African-influenced indie rock won over fans and gave the afternoon performance an enormous crowd.

Vampire Weekend was not the only band to rock the place out on day three. The Airborne Toxic Event gave the crowd some pop-rock to grove to and put on a thoroughly enjoyable performance, as did the Silversun Pickups, Glasvegas and, of course, Snoop Dogg.

The D-O double G had an enormous smoke-filled crowd and by playing a number of old favorites really got Lollers moving and putting their hands in the air.

Lollapalooza knows what it is and knows what it isn’t. It is all about the music and it’s for those music lovers who are not the outdoorsmen. All three days went off without a hitch and proved why Lollapalooza is one of the best music festivals in the entire world.


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