Web Toolbar by Wibiya Bears and Bullets: 2012-08-05

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lollapalooza 2012 Review: Day Three

Sunday, August 5 was a steady continuation of the current drought in the Midwest. The sun was high in a bleakly open sky. The park was sun-dried, putrefying the baseball fields and grass into a off-putting mud that rivaled Bonnaroo. And the night was set for the biggest acts of the entire weekend; Jack White and Justice. But more so than anything else on my mind was the imminent end of not only my weekend, but possibly my tenure at Lollapalooza. If it would be the final day - the truly final day - how would things end?

Day Three:

Five years in a row, three days a year. There's a passage in Into The Wild that reads, "Happiness is only real when shared." Since my second venture in Grant Park in 2008, I have ridden the Blue Line alone waiting for my friends to arrive late. And if this was truly my end, I'd rather share it than wade through half the day alone again.

We arrived pleasantly late - 3 p.m. to be exact. Slowly wandering the park, we traversed the seemingly endless mud pits on the South side of the park for a spot at Sigur Ros, electing to skip The Walkmen. Coming in, I've heard wild rumors about the Icelandic group's live performances; most notably how it can bring people to tears. Considering the heat and the relatively odd time for their performance (4 p.m.), the band put on one of the most memorable shows in Lollapalooza history. Tears didn't exactly happen, but rumblings of grown men crying did get around eventually. Even though the band left several notable songs out of their one hour set, including "Starálfur" and "Glósóli," the time was unmatched in terms of emotions. Jonsi, seemingly alone in a large group, could project unlike most other singers during the weekend to a continually stunned crowd.

Sigur Ros

While it seems like 80 percent of the park made their way to Florence + The Machine, my friends and I had just decided to spend the time languishing most of our last hours at Perry's with Dr. P, Big Gigantic, and Zed's Dead. It was a good change of pace just to not care for a while and joyously waste some time before the night ended.

The final night rounded out with the weekend's two biggest aforementioned acts - Justice and Jack White. Splitting among friends, I stayed for Justice on the North side. Considering last year's final venture with Deadmau5 proved to be a rain-soaked clusterfuck and that I still haven't seen Daft Punk, this would be the biggest electronica show I've ever seen. And that cannot be understated.


Justice are unbelievably intense live. Total non-stop, combining the best from their first two albums, It was a totally unique live experience. Although I'd 
relinquish Daft Punk's status at the top of the live electronica experience, Justice to me would be a fantastic second. It remained the best show of the weekend.

And that's how it all ended. What I'll be saying by this time next year is completely unknown to me, but for the time being I couldn't be happier of what these past five years have been.

Best Performances: Sigur Ros, Justice
Worst Performances: Zed's Dead

Highlights: "
Varúð" by Sigur Ros
Lowlights: Mud

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lollapalooza 2012: Day One Review

With five years of Lollapalooza freshly ingrained in my ever-vigilant memory, 2012 may be my swan song. I might only be 23 years-old, but as far as the festival goes my friends and I are veterans in the strongest sense. We know every corner of the park and every trick to speed up the arbitrary processes of the day (always go to the bathroom near the Google Play stage). But more so than the regular Chicago knowledge, we're slowly noticing the median age is fairly young. Ultimately, my return to 2013 really depends on the lineup. I can't spend every year of my life doing this, can I?

All things considered, 2012 was another successful venture. Not only vacation-wise (you forget sometimes how amazing Chicago actually is), but the festival has so many features that it's hard to really grasp everything. Once again, Perry's place is massive. And while it does attract a crowd that's less than favorable (assholes), it's still something to really admire. But overall, how does 2012 stack up?

Day One:

August 3, 2012 was in reality maybe one of the weakest days in recent festival history, schedule-wise. Aside from the casual interest in NES-inspired band Anamanaguchi at 1 p.m., there was a slew of open spots throughout the day.


The self-described "chiptune" band is an unknown to most, but for those familiar with the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World soundtrack, Anamanaguchi scored the entire film. No vocals necessary, the band's uplifting atmosphere was enough to send part of the 1 p.m. crowd into a light frenzy. Sometimes creativity comes after the fun.

After the brief stop, the next hours were spent trying to find friends in a crowd of 100,000 people struggling to get service on their phones. For some stuck in the park, there's only a few "sweet spots" for cell service. And by "sweet spots" I mean, "It might work here, because it won't anywhere else." But, again, five years; I'm used to it.

Time was sparingly sent gathering snacks and biding time in the cooling Playstation Tent on the south side of Grant Park until the 4:45 p.m. SBTRKT show at the Google Play stage. The London electro-R&B act, fronted by Aaron Jerome, had delighted fans with details of their arrival from their native city earlier that same day. For a set that didn't cross over an hour worth of time, the effort was respected. And as the show is concerned, Jerome and co-performer Sampha did their most with their limited time. One thing fans noticed most was Jerome's innate freestyle abilities on the turntable and drums, adding another dimension to the live experience.


Hastily leaving as soon as SBTRKT's set closed, most of the crowd rushed to the south side of the park for the night's biggest performances. The Shins, M83, and The Black Keys were all slated to play from 6:15 to close, as well as Bassnectar headlining Perry's. The Shins were a highly-anticipated name coming in, after sitting out on temporary recording hiatus since 2007. In reality, I'm still actually surprised I was able to finally see them after all this time, and they certainly did nothing to disappoint.

The lengthy setlist was topped by tracks from March's Port Of Morrow. Laced throughout the show were unrivaled gems from the group's previous three albums: Oh, Inverted World, Chutes Too Narrow, and Wincing The Night Away. No special song was left out, with 2001's "Caring Is Creepy" used as the introduction. Mercer and the band are certainly special live, almost perfectionists. Nothing sounded off on the Red Bull Soundstage - which provided to be one of the better stages the entire weekend. In all, it was one of the more satisfying experiences of the three days.

The Shins

Leaving slightly early to catch a spot close by, we made a tiny camp for M83 at the Playstation stage. For those who attended this year, the stage was marred with technical problems. Depending on where you stood, you either heard an amazing M83 concert or every conversation the people were having around you. But if you were lucky enough to get close, it was one of the weekend's highlights. Most specifically, the finale of the entire band performing a long version of "Coleurs." Culminating with Anthony Gonzalez screaming to Chicago fans, a light-parade followed. So while the Playstation stage may have been a struggle for some, having M83 fade into the night was still a sight to see.


A late trip to Perry's wasn't so much of an experience for Bassnectar (although it was a good one) as it was for the people around. I'll keep it short; I wasn't paying a lot of attention.

So while the day started slow, the finale added an amazing dimension to my previous Lollapalooza experiences. But considering Saturday was a stronger day, I held my hopes up for more.

Best Performances: The Shins, M83
Highlights: "Couleurs," by M83. "Simple Song," by The Shins
Lowlights: Playstation Stage technical difficulties