Andrew Boyle's Adventures At Lollapalooza: Day 1

Milk Made’s resident music snapper Andrew Boyle traveled to Lollapalooza along with 160,000 punters for the latest installment of the mammoth three-day music festival in Grant Park.

The bill this year was diverse, including a highly anticipated return by the newly re-imagined Nine Inch Nails, who performed at the inaugural event in 1991. Sharing the lineup for Day 1 were enough bands to fill a smaller festival, including Queens of The Stone Age, Lana Del Rey, The Killers (who forbade photographers to shoot them – nobody cared), Band Of Horses (aka the nicest guys in music), New Order, Smith Westerns, Crystal Castles, Steve Aoki, Hot Chip, Imagine Dragons and Icona Pop to name but a few.

Shooting the festival is akin to going into battle — a battle one must plan wisely. Main stages are separated by a distance of precisely one mile. Headliners often have a kick-off time within 15 minutes of each other (or often at the same time), leaving the assembled media to choose what might be the better shooting opportunity. Only the very brave attempt to leg it from one end to the other through the masses in under 10 minutes (I managed it, but that’s another story). Also in recent years, band PR have kindly taken it upon themselves to make life more difficult by demanding photographers assemble up to 45 minutes prior to a posted set time to sign a useless release form (no release – no entry) forcing you to miss covering, quite often, groups who are far more interesting than some headliners. I’m sure there is a good reason, but half the photographers love to give the PR grief by using illegible hand writing.

The later end of the bill was a pleasurably deafening experience with Queens Of The Stone Age kicking into ferocious high gear with their set spanning all the way back from their newest album to Rated R (sadly "The Feel Good Hit of The Summer" was absent). Earlier in the day, I joined a group of photographers on stage to shoot Crystal Castles. I never like shooting the back of an artists’ head, but the tiny Alice Glass threw herself into the crowd and rose out of the throng for an amazing moment as fans connected with the artist with outstretched arms. Thievery Corporation provided a standout set, alternating vocalists and giving the audience a kick in the balls with their unique brand of sound that stretches back to the mid ’90s and still sounds as fresh as when "Sound of The Thievery Hi-Fi" first dropped. Father John Misty served up some wit as well as music, prancing the lip of the stage before dropping to his knees to serenade the jumbo screen camera operator.

As darkness fell, Trent Reznor debuted his newly re-imagined and re-assembled Nine Inch Nails lineup. The performance was no bullshit. Not an ounce of ferocity has been lost over two decades of performances and hiatuses. All albums were represented from "Pretty Hate Machine" to the newest single, "Came Back Haunted." A blistering "The Wretched" was standout, and interludes from the "Ghosts" album were haunting. There was a most welcome performance of "Terrible Lie," a ferocious "Survivalism" from standout album "Year Zero," before "Closer" brought the house down, with 100,000 fans screaming "I wanna fuck you like an animal" into the air. Nine Inch Nails has constantly pushed their live performances, and the stage setup evolved and reconfigured with every song. There was live-motion capture (the full face of Reznor submerged in blood like static during "Closer" as he performed behind two video screens was frightening), complex lighting set ups and live video effects that were technically outstanding and stunning in execution. Most declared it the performance of the festival and there were still two days to go. Exhausted punters stepped out into the night as the sounds of Steve Aoki thump thump thumped in the distance on the dance stage.

Day one was over, and a group of more mellow artists were in store for day two.

Photos By: Andrew Boyle.

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