Andrew Boyle's Adventures At Lollapalooza: Day 3
The third and final act of this year’s Lollapalooza burned the house down with a mix of the new and the legendary. Early on, London-based Palma Violets melted the crowd’s faces with a ferocious performance of their recently released debut album. Amongst the multitude of acts, much quality was found dotted around one of the six smaller stages. Baroness were all fist-in-the-balls metal, having provided a blistering set supporting The Melvins early last week in Brooklyn. They unleashed a sonic fire on an initially small crowd that grew twenty-fold as the noise radiated into the field. Metal was underrepresented this year, but Baroness made up for it with blazing guns.
UK-based newcomer Jake Bugg proved his popularity on the back of a UK No. 1 debut album. Curious onlookers were taken aback by the young musicians’ diverse influences that ranged from The Beatles through to Neil Young and Johnny Cash. His set was a breath of fresh air amongst the talentless drivel peddled by a majority of young recording artists. New York locals MS MR kept things light with an art rock-centric set that shared a few visual similarities to Scissor Sisters. Tegan and Sara took the main stage in front of a very large audience and reminisced about their last Lollapalooza where Sara had to pull out mid-set due to heat exhaustion (the duo was delighted they could "wear jackets this time round").
The Vaccines took out the best set of the afternoon, head banging themselves into near whiplash and riffing like guitar Gods in a splintering mash of aggressive punk, proto-punk inspiration. Their debut album is the perfect question: "What Did You Expect From The Vaccines"? Californian surf-rock group Wavves were just that, looking like they’d just arrived from the beach. The crowd’s spirit stayed high as the weather continued with a glorious day in the mid 80s, unlike the humid mess of 2012.
As the sun went down, anticipation was directed to the giant video screen-adorned stage projecting dance-centric acts. Walking past this area got you slammed with deep rolling bass, dub step beats, hyper MCs, (occasionally some truly terrible sounding remixes – "Wonderwall" as dubstep? No thanks), but as Major Lazer began a 30-second countdown on the big screen to one of the biggest, most energetic crowds of the day, the field became a mass of dust as Diplo and co. turned it up way past 11 with multiple six-foot sub woofers at ground level blasting the kids with bass that probably shouldn’t be played to human ears (throw on top of that a spread of three-story speaker stacks and you get the idea). In all honesty, Major Lazer’s electronic dance hall performances are just straight-up, bat-shit insane fun. The boys spend most of their time diving into the crowd, getting down with the assembled twerking dancers, all the while looking quite sharp in ever-so-stylish suits.
Vampire Weekend and Two Door Cinema Club sparked energetic mass sing alongs into the evening, but the crowd’s excitement was obviously reserved for The Cure. Their popularity has transcended generations because, quite simply, their music is still so, so good — older former-goths, kids (one girl in the front row held a large sign proclaiming "I’m spending my sweet 16 with The Cure") and plenty of fans adorned in black attire and makeup, joined the rest of us to sing some of the greatest songs of the new wave era and beyond. Robert Smith, starting to look a little far along but still utterly shy and charming in person, seemed taken aback at the tens of thousands in front of him as they ripped into "Lullaby" and "Pictures Of You. I grew a lump in my throat standing 6 feet from the enigmatic front man and hearing the latter song performed live and given the chance to shoot it.
The festival drew to a close as Phoenix, a mile away at the other end of Grant Park, threw down a European rock-dance party. The mood was blue for the sweet voice of Cat Power, still sporting close-cropped hair, who snaked her way back and forth across stage’s lip for one of the most devoted fan bases of the day.
Photos by Andrew Boyle