As much as my planned Lollapalooza schedule had been upended or somewhat futzed with, there was no reason to get upset. Really, I couldn’t deny how fun Lollapalooza was in its now-spontaneous form, and after the first two days of the weekend, I expected my third day at the festival to be the most spontaneous of them all.
To my surprise, everything went fairly according to plan, and I ended up seeing all the acts I wanted to see for the day. I especially made sure that nothing was going to change my getting to see The Cure.
Day 3: Breezy But Still Hot
All photos by David Fisch
Upon recommendation from our own Angelica Corona, I had wanted to catch the UK’s Palma Violets at the beginning of my last day, but since they weren’t starting for quite some time, I decided to catch brunch with my pop on the top of the John Hancock Building instead, eating while seeing pretty spectacular views of the city, Lake Michigan, and a tiny, tiny Red Bull Stage in Grant Park, where I would be situated by nightfall amongst tens of thousands of people.
I once again bustled through the Red Line train and down Jackson Ave. towards the north end of the park to catch the first three acts of the day.
These NME “Best New Artist” award winners were certainly worthy of the title, as this relatively young punk rock band pulled out all the stops at the Bud Light stage to kick off Sunday afternoon. The set was sparse but the band was definitely all over the place, with lead singers Sam and Chili constantly criss-crossing the stage and making multiple gestures to the crowd, making you wonder what they were like when the sun was completely down. I’m pretty excited to see where the band will be in a year’s time, as they might just be the answer to reviving punk.
There isn’t much to say about a UK musician taking a stab at indie folk and rustic blues, unless this UK musician is only age nineteen. You’ve most likely heard “Lightning Bolt” in recent commercials, but the many other songs Jake Bugg performed really displayed the rising talent that had been touted in recent months. With a pleasant set, a fine supporting band, and an acoustic guitar in hand, Bugg was a real treat from the photo pit, so one could only imagine how far his influence stretched past the enormous crowd at the Petrillo stage.
You can’t spell assume without “ass,” and that is what I was before approaching SKATERS. I’m generally indifferent to a band whose name feels uninspired and more sarcastically amped by having the title in ALL CAPS, but when I heard them play, I was immediately silenced — and then I began cheering.
I had read only a few minutes before their set at the Grove stage that they were “basically like everything we wished The Strokes still epitomized,” and the comparisons were hard to argue. They have this pretty stellar garage rock sound, but with hints of a post-punk influence and energy that brings some dynamic to the game. And closing out the set with a Nirvana cover? Double points. Knowing that they have new material on the horizon, I’m easily a new fan of these guys.
After having seen Baroness perform at Lollapalooza, I’m sad to say that the band only came into my consciousness just a year ago upon the release of their double album Yellow and Green and right before the terrifying bus accident that shifted some of the band members’ courses. But if my one time seeing them this summer revealed any indication of a band under duress, I clearly saw right past it. I was just too busy being in awe over the power and punch of what was arguably the hardest rock set of the festival.
Baroness took no time at all upon entering the Petrillo stage to set the record straight. Opening with “Take My Bones Away,” this heavy metal band was going to make sure you rocked the fuck out for an entire hour. More importantly, they made sure to execute every note in the “How To Put On A Great Rock Show” handbook with zeal, performing on their instruments as if possessed by the devil himself, bending backwards on amplifiers and looking angry while having the time of their lives. Safe to say, this was a major highlight of my Lollapalooza experience.
After chomping down on some pretty good grub from the festival’s many vendors, I had some hang time before Grizzly Bear’s set, which was perfectly fine with me since I had to trek back to the south end of the festival for the two remaining acts of my night. I think it struck me at this point that my festival experience would be ending in a matter of hours, but these final sets would also prove to be ones that I wouldn’t soon forget.
I fell in love with the New York four piece when they released Yellow House — so pretty much around the same time everyone else did. The lush, emotional delivery and very much lived-in sound gets to me every time and anytime, and with strong releases in the last few years, Grizzly Bear has solidified a slot in my list of most impressive bands. So when I found out they were performing at Lollapalooza, how could I have said no to seeing their set?
Seeing a majority of the park filled to capacity to watch Grizzly Bear was very humbling (though they played Lollapalooza in 2010 to that kind of crowd as well, which I found out when I came back to LA). The set was clearly in support of the recently released Shields, but the band still played the crowd favorites from Veckatimest and one of the best tracks from Yellow House, “On a Neck, On a Spit.” To say I enjoyed the set is an understatement.
As Sunday was winding down, it became apparent that a lot was riding on this next headliner. The already large crowd from Grizzly Bear appeared to only get more massive, and the vibe in the area seemed to get more nostalgic. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be ready for this, but I knew it was going to happen regardless of my next move: I was going to see The Cure.
I don’t think there’s much left to say about this band that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll just dive into the details of the set. From the moment the jangly chimes of opener “Plainsong” began, the crowd was sold. The heavy synths entered as Robert Smith took the stage, and the crowd was in such joy and screaming for him that I was worried they might actually overshadow Smith’s vocals. But the track turned out to be the perfect opener for the two-hour set, as it worked like a siren song, with Smith’s echoey and lustrous vocals luring me in with undivided attention and breaking through all screams to become front and center.
Naturally, the band played all the hits during its 26 (!) song setlist, from “Pictures of You” to “Lovesong” to “Friday I’m In Love” and so on. I really could keep going. They pretty much played every song you could have dreamed to hear them perform, and the band’s very presence exuded a kind of timelessness you don’t find often.
As expected, The Cure stopped every once in a while to allow the crowd to fill in singing lyrics, which Smith was notably pleased to see even after probably performing these songs hundreds of times for years. From where I was, the crowd also looked as if it was shifting in waves, and that’s because everyone was dancing. When The Cure began their encore, which included the appropriately bouncy “The Lovecats” and “Close To Me,” people of all ages were in sync with the basslines, and I couldn’t help but join in.
When The Cure officially closed with “Boys Don’t Cry,” the crowd was chanting for a second encore. As much as I would have wanted that to be a reality, I couldn’t have been happier ending my Lollapalooza with one of the best concerts I’ve seen, and it capped off a three-day festival experience that began roughly but ended with such a bang that what began as the “festival bug” has now become “festival fever.”
I left Grant Park that night finding it hard to believe that my weekend was over in what felt like the blink of an eye, but I know the moments within that blink are lasting memories that are going to stay with me forever.
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