Now that all the written pieces are out of the way, I wanted to share with you the collection of photos that I took at this year’s Lollapalooza. Before we dive in, I want to make sure you’re aware of a couple things. First and foremost, I was not given a press photography pass for the festival. That means I didn’t have the opportunity to stand right next to the stages and zoom in to get photos of sweat dripping off the faces of every artist that was up there. When you see Jack White looking like an ant in one of these photos, that was taken from pretty far back. I like to think that most of these photos are still reasonably decent though, and I tried my best to only select the ones that worked. Secondly, what I’m posting below is only a small sample of the total photos I took over the duration of the weekend. If you want to see the all the photos, head over to Facebook for day-by-day sets. Also, if you’d like to gain a little perspective on what bands I saw and the good/bad of it all, simply click this link to see all of my coverage of Lollapalooza 2012. Thanks! Photos are after the jump.
Category: lollapalooza 2012
This was Lollapalooza’s eighth year in Chicago, and in turn my eighth year in a row attending it. I’ve seen it transform from a tiny little four stage festival on one half of Grant Park to a monstrous behemoth of a fest complete with eight stages and multiple blocks of park space. I’ve stood through oppressive heat, severe thunderstorms, a lack of water and restrooms, gate crashers, mud pits, clinically insane crowds/bands, and those tiny little rocks that always seem to get into your shoes. This year introduced a new slice of fun: the total festival evacuation. And here I thought I’d seen everything. In spite of all those things, I’ve managed to have a whole lot of fun and get inspired by music all over again. It’s become a very well run festival, which I suppose is thanks in no small part to a generous volunteer staff and the huge revenues they make from it every year. Are there things that could still be improved? Sure, but it’s more minor stuff that likely isn’t a pressing concern for anyone. I’ll outline some of that, along with the best and worst music of the weekend right now in my Lollapalooza 2012 Winners and Losers.
Well, put another one in the books: Lollapalooza 2012 is over. I had a whole lot of fun (as I do every year) and saw a whole lot of great music (which also happens every year). I’ll have a whole lengthy writeup on the weekend’s big winners and losers coming up in the next couple days, along with photo sets of pretty much every artist I saw. So yeah, there’s a little more Lolla coverage coming your way. In the meantime though, let me get to this quick summary of what happened on Day 3. The weather actually cooperated nicely, with a balmy 82 degree high temperature and barely a cloud in the sky. After the oppressive heat of Friday and the severe weather evacuation of Saturday, having one perfect day was just what the doctor ordered. My mental doctor also ordered that I stay home and rest just a little longer than the previous two days so I could make it all the way through still able to walk. Starting the day at noon or 1 PM and then partying until 2 or 3 AM is not a recipe for good health, so I’ve learned from personal experience. Anyways, here’s what I saw and my very brief impressions.
They did everything a good band needs to do on stage. They were filled with energy and upbeat sentiments, and physicalized those things into something a crowd could get behind. Their double drummer attack and big melodies were very helpful too. Their albums might be a little lacking in creativity on the whole, but the songs morph into something else entirely when they’re performing them live.
I very much like The Walkmen, but also promised myself I’d never go see them perform again because nothing could ever top the previous time I saw them. The reason I ultimately watched their set was because there wasn’t anything else good on, and it was on my way before Sigur Ros. In other words, The Walkmen were a choice borne out of convenience. That’s pretty much how they treated their set, too. Frontman Hamilton Leithauser may wail up a storm on stage with his gravelly voice, but there’s not much substance beyond that. So no, they were unable to do better than the last time I saw them.
Not only was Sigur Ros’ set one of my predetermined highlights of Sunday, but for me it was a highlight of the entire festival. While I was (and continue to be) upset over their 4 PM time slot (they performed at 8:30 PM at the Osheaga Festival two days earlier), it didn’t seem to matter much to the band. They were the same as they always are, soft, beautiful and somber melodies with explosive crescendos made of pure brute force, the whole thing anchored by Jonsi’s angelic voice. New song “Varúð” was part of their shortened festival set, and it fit in perfectly. With the vast size of Grant Park as their canvas, the band accompanied by their orchestral friends in Amiina painted a picture so beautiful you couldn’t help but be inspired.
Toro Y Moi
I wish I could say a lot of nice things about this set. The last Toro Y Moi record was really good, and hopefully the one coming out later this year will be too. The new songs previewed sounded solid, but then again so did pretty much everything. It was a lovely dance party if you were only listening to it, but watching was a whole other matter. The band may have been bobbing their heads while performing, but frontman Chaz Bundick didn’t seem to know how to engage the crowd. In other words, it was good, but it could have been much better.
At the Drive-In
If you saw At the Drive-In perform when they were still together over a decade ago, you understand the power of their performances. They’re high energy and intensely fun, with Cedric Bixler-Zavala as key ringleader and mischief-maker. Watching them reunited at Lolla, they haven’t lost a single step. Jumping off the bass drum and throwing the microphone stand into the air are just a couple of the wild things that happened during their set. Even technical difficulties couldn’t stop them from entertaining the crowd, filling the time with awkward stage banter that encouraged people to throw their shoes on stage. What’s missing in the end is only a deeper connection to the crowd. ATDI are a band of the people, and having them perform atop a high stage was almost like the difference between animals in the zoo and animals in the wild. So long as it’s not life threatening, you want to be as close to the animals as possible.
After their set was cancelled thanks to the storm on Saturday, DJ Mel was bumped from Sunday evening’s lineup to make room for Chairlift instead. With a new album full of really catchy synth-pop songs to perform, they dove right in and never looked back. With Florence + the Machine having just finished their set at the neighboring stage and Jack White set to start on the opposite side of the park, odds were against Chairlift. The stage may have been larger than the one they were originally scheduled to perform on, but the crowd was arguably smaller thanks to those tough time slot choices. Their set left me pleased, especially when frontwoman Caroline Polachek spun around or clapped/snapped. Call it a harmless but rather enjoyable late Sunday night set.
In case you didn’t know it already, Jack White is the MAN. He’s one of the best guitar players living today, and to hear him tear a song to shreds is invigorating and inspiring. Naturally then, his headlining set was exactly that, along with a fair amount of showmanship to elevate the whole thing. There was the blue and black color scheme, and the two different backing bands, one all male and the other all female. They switched them out in the middle of the set, and thanks to the quiet duet of “Love Interruption” it went seamlessly. There was material from his solo debut album, with a handful of tracks from his other projects including The White Stripes, The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs. There were even a couple covers thrown in for good measure. Of the three major stage headlining performances I saw this past weekend, this was easily my favorite.
Day 2 of Lollapalooza 2012 was a short one. That is to say, a few hours were cut out due to inclement weather. By “inclement” I mean severe storms the likes of which Chicago hasn’t seen in a little while. They evacuated Grant Park for the first time in Lollapalooza history, undoubtedly scared at the prospect of a potential stage collapse that might kill some people. So from about 3-6 PM no bands performed and while some were rescheduled, others were cancelled entirely. One of the bands I was most looking forward to, Chairlift, was unable to perform as a result. But I did get to catch a few bands on Saturday, mostly after the storm. Here’s a quick summary of what I saw, which I will expand upon at a later date.
The only band I saw before the evacuation, and they were the perfect start to my day. Their upbeat energy was contagious, and the crowd was totally into it. They stuck with the great stuff on their debut album In Light, and made it even more exciting and catchy than ever. GIVERS are definitely going places.
After the evacuation and rain delay and the release of a revised schedule, I was with some people that desperately wanted to see FUN. I went along for that ride, even as two of my favorites The Tallest Man on Earth and tUnE-yArDs were also playing at the same time. One thing I learned is that people love FUN. They love FUN. in the same way people love Neon Trees and the like. I am not a fan, but stood there trying to understand the appeal. What I took away from their set was that they’re high energy and really appreciate their fans. They’re also a little better than what their hit single might suggest. So there’s that.
After a food and restroom break that took far longer than anticipated, I stumbled through the mud to see half of The Weeknd’s set. Turns out Abel Tesfaye (the man behind the project) is a pretty strong live performer. As a full band, they haven’t put on too many live performances, but you wouldn’t know that from watching them. Tesfaye’s vocals are the heart of it, and while he’s not quite Frank Ocean, he’s of comparable quality, which is meant as a compliment.
The last time I saw Bloc Party was the last time they played Lollapalooza a few years ago. I wasn’t too impressed then, and apparently neither was frontman Kele Okereke. He said that he didn’t enjoy his last Lolla experience, but was having a much better time this time. It sure sounded like it too, as their set was better and more memorable than before. They kept the tempos strong and the hits coming. The couple new songs they played felt a little shaky, but maybe that’s how they all start before you’ve heard them a hundred times.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
What can I say about this performance. I’ve seen RHCP a couple times now, and they tend to be okay live. The live versions of their songs often have a little extra kick to them thanks to a funky bass solo from Flea or extended outros and such. Flea remains the band’s stronghold and focal point, the only real treasure now that John Frusciante is not with them anymore. Anthony Kiedis does all sorts of posturing on stage, but the real tragedy was that he seemed to forget a few lyrics. It made things interesting, to be sure. That, and the off-key renditions of RHCP hits done by every single person standing around me made for a pretty shrug-worthy performance.
Due to the modified rain delay schedule I didn’t see, I had no idea when Frank Ocean was performing. Somewhere around 10 PM I wandered over to his stage, and he’d been on for at least a 20 minutes or so. Because I also had an aftershow to go to and sets were pushing well past the curfew time, I couldn’t stay and watch the rest of Ocean’s set. I caught 3 songs, and they were all spectacular. His album Channel Orange is one of 2012’s best, and as a live performer he makes every single kind word said about it justified. The man is now a bonified superstar in both the studio and on stage. It was probably the most impressive thing I saw all day, even if it was only 15 minutes worth.
With Day 1 of Lollapalooza 2012 in the books, let me give a very brief rundown of all the bands I saw today, and my on-the-spot reactions to their sets. I’ll have photo sets for you and some longer collected thoughts once the weekend officially wraps up. Until then, my Twitter account is the best way to keep up with all the happenings in Grant Park, though my reception has been spotty at best. I may have social media blackouts for a few hours as a result. I’ll do my best to keep you all updated as possible though.
I only saw the last half of their set. They were dealing with sound issues and to me came off as lackluster and not the best way to start my day.
The War on Drugs
This is where I should have started my day. The band also had some sound issues, but got them cleared up quickly and put on a very rousing set anyways. Better than I anticipated it to be, too.
Sharon Van Etten
I’ve seen Sharon Van Etten twice before, and this third time was probably my favorite. Her band seemed tighter than ever, and her vocals were seeped in emotion. She didn’t even need to use words. Her tone said it all.
Big crowd for these guys, who I really like on record. Turns out they’re just pretty good live. Maybe it’s more that their psychedelic songs aren’t as friendly when you’re outside in 90 degree heat.
The Afghan Whigs
Dressed in all black, the band hit every necessary note in their amazing catalogue. They played like they hadn’t lost a beat, and Greg Dulli wailed like a man possessed. Tragic that so many went to see Metric instead of this classic band. Oh, and lest I forget, their cover of Frank Ocean’s “Lovecrimes” is one of my early weekend highlights.
Here’s my other weekend highlight. I wouldn’t consider myself a Die Antwoord fan, and I don’t really listen to their records often, but they surprised me in a big way with their live show. They’re super energetic and weird (in a good way). They worked hard enough to make their set very memorable, and for that I give them full credit.
With the reported mental health issues frontman Michael Angelakos is going through, I was concerned how it might affect the band’s live show. Turns out, not at all. They’ve gotten even better since the last time I saw them a few years ago, and the absolutely massive crowd was eating up every last note.
I had to jump away from Passion Pit to see The Shins because I really like both of their latest records. I only wound up hearing a couple of new tunes, supported mainly by classic standbys off the Chutes Too Narrow album. Honestly, that was perfect for me. It lacked the outward fun party energy of Passion Pit, but offset that with great attention to detail.
I think this was the biggest crowd I was in all day. I could only stay for 20 minutes before having to run across the park for Black Sabbath, and what I was able to hear was excellent but not nearly loud enough. The crowd seemed to only care about the hits on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, because classics like “Teen Angst” and “Colours” were met with shrugs. Too bad.
I never paid that much attention to Tony Iommi before, but after their set I was convinced he’s one of the 10 best guitarists still living today. The man hit every note with precision, and that’s with questionable health too. Ozzy was Ozzy, playing ringleader and encouraging the crowd to cheer louder or throw their hands up or whatever. He was mostly on target vocally, but slipped now and then, something all too easily forgiven considering his age and history. Bill Ward is certainly missed, however fill-in drummer Tommy Clufetos did an admirable job, especially on some big solos. The band hit all the important marks, including “Iron Man,” “War Pigs” and “Paranoid.” I wish them all the best and don’t regret missing The Black Keys for a second.
Hey friends! I’m happy to present you with Faronheit’s Guide to Lollapalooza 2012. Whether you’re headed to the festival this year or would just like to learn a little more about the artists performing on this year’s lineup, hopefully this guide will point you in the direction of the acts you won’t want to miss. Before we get started, I should go over a few details to help you interpret this properly. The purpose of this guide is not to analyze every act on the lineup and weigh who you should go see at what particular time. Simply put, I picked 10 acts from each day, irregardless of what time they are playing, and attempted to explain why they’re worth seeing. It’s a very good lineup this year, so choosing only 10 from individual days was tough, but I like to think this is distilled down to help you have the best possible Lollapalooza experience. I should note that some of the small side stages and Perry’s go largely ignored in this guide, because I think if you want to know where to go for dance parties or American Idol runner-ups, you can find them yourselves. Speaking of finding things, make sure you look at the festival map before going to Grant Park, if you’ve never been before. Knowing where the stages are located and that it’s a 15 minute walk from one side of the park to the other is very, very important. In the guide below, I’ve indicated when and where the acts I’m recommending are performing, and they’re ordered by time slot to help plan out your day. Additionally, if you’d like to hear music from the artists I’ve mentioned below, along with a bunch of other acts, there are links to individual day Spotify playlists for your enjoyment. I’ve structured those playlists thematically rather than by time slot to provide you with the best possible listening experience. All that said, I hope you’re ready to have a lot of fun this weekend. Drink plenty of water, dip yourself in sunscreen, and try to rest whenever possible. Those are my tips for surviving the weekend. Without further ado, click past the jump to view my Guide to Lollapalooza 2012!
It’s that time of year, friends: Lollapalooza lineup time. Spring is in the air, but soon enough summer will be here and so will Chicago’s great music festivals. Unless you bought tickets well in advance, I’m sure this year’s Lollapalooza lineup will be the deciding factor as to whether or not you make your way to Grant Park this August 3-5. Ticket prices have risen this year, no doubt in part because the supreme tax deal the festival was getting from the City of Chicago has all but gone away. Early bird tickets have all sold out, and general 3-day passes are currently on sale for $230 (service fees included). Is it worth the cost? Well, that’s for you to decide. The full lineup is listed below, and is headlined by Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Jack White, Florence + the Machine, and At the Drive-In. Okay, so those last 2 headliners don’t really seem like they deserve the official “headlining” slot. I’d argue that The Shins and Sigur Ros are more deserving of headlining than Florence + the Machine and At the Drive-In are. That said, I’m still excited that reunion acts Black Sabbath, At the Drive-In and The Afghan Whigs will be there. Other noteworthy acts include Passion Pit, M83, The Weeknd, Bloc Party, Metric, Childish Gambino, tUnE-yArDs, The Tallest Man on Earth, Of Monsters and Men, Alabama Shakes, Tame Impala, The Walkmen, Neon Indian, Dum Dum Girls, Washed Out, Givers, Chairlift, Sharon Van Etten, Polica, First Aid Kit, FIDLAR, Bombay Bicycle Club, Bowerbirds, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Chicago’s own JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound. If you’re a fan of Perry’s electronica stage, Avicii, Justice and Bassnectar will all be headliners, with others sets from Kaskade, Calvin Harris, Santigold, and Little Dragon, among others. Again, have a look at the full lineup after the jump. If you ask me, this is pretty damn good. Worth the price of admission? I’d say so. Buy tickets here.