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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lollapalooza 2012: Day Two Review

If we're keeping a tally, and we aren't, Lollapalooza's Saturdays usually end up being the strongest of the weekend. In 2008, it was Rage Against The Machine. In 2009, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs filled in for The Beastie Boys when MCA was first diagnosed with cancer. In 2010, Phoenix played the biggest show of the band's career. And last year, it was front and center for My Morning Jacket.

Predictably, 2012's Saturday stacked up as the strongest day of the weekend with the top-billed headliner Red Hot Chili Peppers slated to perform on the park's south side. But why Saturday ended up being the most memorable of the weekend was for completely different reasons.

Day Two:

Glancing at Saturday's schedule, there was enough quality acts to not only fill out the day, but to skip entirely. Looking at it again, there were several very-notable acts I neglected to see, including the aforementioned Chili Peppers. The trip started early with FIDLAR.


Every year there's one small band that every Lolla-goer that ventures outside of Perry's falls in love with. For me, seeing FIDLAR at the Double-Door the previous Thursday really helped solidify their reputation as one of the most fun punk acts around. So while I was plenty familiar with the setlist, including a scorching closer of "Wake Bake Skate" in which lead singer Zac Carper jumped into a frenzied crowd to spit off the final 30 seconds, the excitement never dwindled. As one of the very few punk shows of the weekend, it was a fun change of pace and worth the early Saturday heat.

Pushing quickly while trying to cool down as much as I could, the next move was to Jeff The Brotherhood and right to Delta Spirit. Both performances were spirited, especially considering how extraordinary the heat had become during the Midwest's lengthy drought. Delta Spirit lead-singer Matthew Vasquez, at the end of his performance, was dunking his head in buckets of water and pouring them on eager fans jumping in the front rows. Still drenched in his own sweat, he nearly passed out at the end from the pure exhaustion.

Thereafter, the day drifted in another direction. Dry, grey clouds set an overcast - something most of us wanted but kind of feared at the same time. Venturing off, you noticed merchandising tents closing and small flocks gathering towards the entrance. If you were in the park last Saturday, in Chicago, or just watching CNN, you know what followed - a full evacuation. The rain is never so much of an issue as wind and lightning are. Considering those factors, along with a recent string of stage collapses at music festivals, the evacuation was actually a very good thing. For those who made it out and didn't waste their time, taking a break and letting the park cool down made the night that much more pleasant.

The delay only lasted from 3:30-6 p.m., pushing other performances back just an hour. Almost immediately upon reentry, The Tallest Man On Earth resumed Lolla festivities with one of the weekend's best sets. Going on over his scheduled play time, Kristian Matsson never seemed to slow down. Rounding off hit after hit from his previous three albums, it was clear that he resonated deeply with his fans who never seemed to leave.

Tallest Man On Earth

From then on, electing to skip both Franz Ferdinand and The Weeknd, I made a station at the Google Play stage through Washed Out, Twin Shadow and that night's headliner Frank Ocean.

Washed Out

While Washed Out did what they could considering their circumstances, and Frank Ocean's set was electric, the curiosity of the night laid with Twin Shadow. Sound problems and a rushed set forced the band for an extremely quick set (about seven songs), but what was seen was absolutely electric. The benefit of playing later at night than originally scheduled added a special element, which also leaked into Ocean's set.

Frank Ocean

Personal sets - truly personal - are actually fairly rare during music festivals. But for those around for Ocean's set, you truly felt a personal vibe. His on stage props streamed constant cartoons that any of his fans can identify with, while he constantly addressed his screaming onlookers. Culminating with the full 10-minute version of "Pyramids," it was a stellar way to end things on a very eventful Saturday.

Best Performances: FIDLAR, Tallest Man On Earth, Twin Shadow, Frank Ocean
Worst Performances: Washed Out

Highlights: "Wake Bake Skate" by FIDLAR, "There's No Leaving Now" by The Tallest Man On Earth, "Five Seconds" by Twin Shadow, "Pyramids" by Frank Ocean.
Lowlights: Evacuation

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