Day One: August 3, 2012
Well, since it is the last Lollapalooza before the Mayan Apocalypse, I figure I had to go. Won empty seat lottery on the flight out to Chicago, so right of the bat I knew this was going to be a good trip. That feeling carried on the morning of the first day, when like 1000 people were standing in a line for the southern half of the main entrance, and 5 were standing on the northen half. This, added in with already having wristbands this year meant that I got into the show half an hour BEFORE anyone even started playing.
First band I saw was Animal Kingdom, an alternative trio out of England. Heard a few of their songs on The Spotify and wasn't too impressed, but thankfully they sound way better live. A theme that would carry on for the days second band--Anamanaguchi. For those of you not in the know, there is a subgenre of nerd rock these days where synth sounds are run through 8 bit processors so they sound like Nintendo games. Anamanaguchi is one such band. They were so high energy that a nerd mosh pit broke out. First time I've ever seen a pit at a 1:00 show at a small stage. Ha. Next band I wanted to see was The Black Angels, but I joined my cadre of friends across the park for Dr. Dog instead. They were ok, and frankly it was a good thing seeing a low key band after bopping around to nerd dance rock.
Metric wouldn't go on for another 45 minutes, so on the walk over I checked out Dry the River on the BMI stage (meh) and Blind Pilot back at the Google Play stage (also meh). Metric was awesome, but I stood near the back and could only watch the screens because the disabled viewing area obstructed the view of the stage. I wasn't too bummed though because I am going to see them next month in Pittsburgh and also because I wanted to be able to get close to Die Antwoord. The South African rappers were as crazy as I expected them to be, and the crowd was just as crazy. I was just happy I retreated closer to the Bud Light Stage before the part in I Fink U Freeky where Ninja makes a million motherfuckers jump.
Anyhoo, next up was Passion Pit. I had reservations about seeing them at the festival, because I'm probably going to see them locally, but also because their music isn't always festival type music. Also, I was missing out on Band of Skulls. Thankfully Passion Pit opened with Take a Walk and then went immediately into Moth's Wings. Ten minutes and I saw all that I wanted to see of PP and headed over to Band of Skulls, who put on a solid show.
Next up was Dev! Jared from Innerpartysystem tweeted once that he was seeing her (before her new most recent album) and remarked on how bad she was, so I HAD to go. I stayed for like 4 songs. She played Bass down Low second, some song, and then her tour de force Booty Bounce. what was most hilarious about this was that I was apparently the only person familiar with said song, and was not at all surprised when she hit the "poppin bottles in the ice..." segment that would be sampled by Far East Movement into Fly Like a G6. Everyone else in the crowd gave a combined oooohhhhhhh shiiiiitt expression. Lulz.
After some traditional poor cell phone reception, I did manage to meet up with Larry and Kate for the Black Keys, but not before listening to M83 from across the field. There were like 20,000 people there to see M83 and another 20k trying to walk around them, and some lady still bothered to say something to me about stepping on the edge of her blanket. C'mon lady, you're at a music festival somone is going to step on your blanket. Anyhoo, The Black Keys put on a solid set from start to finish with no artificial encore. I wasn't really into their show the first time I saw them back in 08, but they have since grown on me.
Day One Highlights:Another early afternon small stage dance party. It's fast becoming my favorite thing about Lollapalooza.
Day Two: August 4, 2012
There's a day two theme that I have yet to break, and thats going to the BMI stage to see some band I never heard of. This year it was Laura Warshauer. She put on a great blues rock bar band type show. Which would be the theme for the first half of the day. Jeff the Brotherhood was next rocking out the Playstation Stage and then it was time for Delta Spirit.
I saw Delta Spirit last year and was amazed they were back so soon--thats usually an honor reserved for the Black Keys. But, I guess they did release a sweet little album in between now and then. Showmanship is what lead me to like them last time, and they certainly didn't disappoint. Lots of rocking out, and then the lead singer ran around the area in front of the stage dumping buckets of water on people. Awesome. As I was walking across the field for the Temper Trap, and to catch the last of Neon Indian's set I noticed they were shutting some of the shops. No one knew why--that is--until I got down to Neon Indian, and He said that he had to finish short. The event staff got on stage and announced that the NWS had issued a dangerous storm warning for the area and that they were going to EVACUATE LOLLAPALOOZA!!!
The sheer magic that is 100,000 people all trying to call people at once was amazing and people would just stop in the middle of the mob to take pictures of people leaving. All the while it, was getting darker and darker. People retreated to their hotel rooms, three garages that were set up as shelters, and any place that was open. Larry knew of this place that has a bar in their basement, but it wasn't going to be open for a few minutes. We waited outside, and got in and downstairs among the first people. The staff certainly wasn't expecting a full house for opening hour rush, so that was pretty funny, but they made a ton of money in that short amount of time, so I don't feel all that sorry for them. So instead of The Temper Trap, we played beer pong in a basement bar. Best Lolla moment ever? Possibly. So apparently it was raining sideways and the satellites got knocked out, and we we're oblivious because we were watching Larry perfect trick pong shots off the walls of the bar. But we got word that the festival was back on and so we returned to the park.
Everyone got back into the park much more quickly than I expected, mostly because they weren't checking bags this time. Well, either people had drank all the booze they were sneaking in, or they figured how much can they drink in 2 hours. Larry and I expected to see a shortened Franz Ferdinand set while Mike and John went down to Calvin Harris, but we were glad that they tweaked the schedule and showed up to Tallest Man on Earth instead. Because of this, Larry and I were able to get to 15 feet from the rail for Franz. It took a while for them to set up, because the stage had been storm readied, and that meant tearing down the back and side drops, and squeegeeing off the water. But Franz played a whole set, and put on the most amazing show of the day. All their hits, a disco break where the bassist actually kept up with the bassline to Donna Summers - I Feel Love, all four guys playing one drum set, and closing up shop with This Fire. Amazing.
Larry and I headed back to find Mike and John at Perry's but could not remember if they were to right of the left sound pole or to the left of the right sound pole. Oh well. We walked around the Calvin Harris set taking in the sights, and then tried to get to RHCP. Emphasis on Try. You see because the rain brings mud, and there are only certain places that are paved in the park, and roughly half of them are steps, every entrance into the south field was a logjam. We had to walk all the way from the steps next to the stage on the right side, the whole way around to the Sony stage. From then we could just scoot down the sideline and get to our normal spot in between the first two softball fields where no one ever stands. Lolla Protip: If you go to the east side of either mainstage, you can get as close as you want. If you stay west, you run into a wall of people who don't want to bother walking around to the other side of the stage. Also, there is one pattern I want to comment upon. The south band before headlines has become somewhat of a joke on the second day of the festival. This was no change this year, as Bloc Party not only was scheduled to play before RHCP, they got their set cut to half an hour. hah.
Day Two Highlight:Franz Ferdinand and mid storm beer pong.
Day Two Lowlight:You would think it would be the evacuation, but actually it was the horrible people after getting back in. People were blocking the stairways, and people behind were trying to push there way through, and then after deciding to turn around, people decided they weren't leaving fast enough and shoved by too.
Day Three: August 5, 2012
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!. Last day of Lolla before the Mayan Apocolypse. Went in slightly late, but got in to see Bombay Bicycle Club. Pretty solid set, if I must say. But then it was across the park to see The Devil Makes Three. I had been missing some down home bluegrass. Well, not really, but the band put on a show, even if it involved banjolins and guitars that look like they came from the garbage. They sang a song about Jack Daniels, so that's prett swank. White Rabbits was up across the north field and we're pretty swell, but we we're waiting for Gary Clark Jr to set up.
I've said it before and I'll say it again--blues guitar is something that will only ever be appreciated in a live setting. Gary Clarke Jr tore it up, but I'm sure he does not translate well to memorex. After he finished rocking out, J Cole took the stage across the field. I stayed for one song, and even that proved too long as I approached Lolla's first really stupid stage choice of the festival.
I don't know if they didn't plan on the Gaslight Anthem's cult following or if they just didn't think at all, but the Google Stage was overflowing with people. I had to stand on the fringe, despite showing up before the set started, and could only see Gaslight through the trees. They rocked out hard, but it surprised me how much they played from The '59 Sound compared to their other albums. Though, I'm sure there were plenty who didn't even know they released an album a few weeks ago.
From there I checked out Toro Y Moi before At.The.Drive.In took over the south stage. Both bands were good, but nothing remarkable. Though at least Toro Y Moi put on a full set without the need for stalling, unlike the latter band. Then it was time for Miike Snow. I got up real close, which meant getting hammered with beach balls, getting my hat knocked off twice, and having to jump with the surrounding people. Which Larry reminded me of which that meant I was having fun. I guess it did.
After Miike Snow we took in a buffet of the closers, startimg with Jack White, then to Kaskade, then Childish Gambino and finally, Justice. None of them stood out from any other, aside from Gambino, who was the worst. I miss the days of a really strong south stage day three headliner,
Day Three Highlight:Gaslight Anthem
Day Three Lowlight: Lack of a shut down headliner