Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day One


2013 lolla Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day One

And there goes Friday. Despite ominous reports all week, the torrential rain never came to Grant Park, only a smidgen in the afternoon, and yet that was just enough to turn the fields into a gushy mess. Sandals floated around like sunken wreckage, while free spirits walked to and from the stages barefoot; it was heavenly gross. But that scene is expected for any festival, no less the mile-long Lollapalooza, where 80,000 brave souls are nudged, pummeled, and cracked over three days. It’s some wild shit.

Gardening aside, Friday played out fairly straightforward. The heavies camped north, while the pop savvy holed up south, and those with a heart for adventure scattered about with ADHD — it wasn’t by choice. The BMI Stage went from Hey Marseilles to Chance the Rapper, while The Grove stitched Frightened Rabbit between Disclosure and Lana Del Rey. This scheduled eclecticism worked to everyone’s benefit (that is, if you’re a glass half full-type), offering a change of scenery and a wider opportunity to catch newer sounds.

There were probably more, but here are the top 13 moments we caught on Day One.

IO ECHO: veterans, rookies, career year

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Photo by Phillip Roffman

While The Neighbourhood gathered quite the audience for such an early set on the north side, Los Angeles charmers IO ECHO retained much of that audience by cutting the rope at the Bud Light stage. In support of their debut full-length, Ministry of Love, front woman Ioanna Gika couldn’t help but frolic and dance throughout “Shanghai Girls”, “When the Lillies Die”, and the album’s title track.

Every inch of the Bud Light stage was accounted for. Yet, Leopold Ross ensured an intimate exchange between artist and audience with “Ecstasy Ghost”. It’s interesting to note that IO ECHO was a band that was handpicked by Trent Reznor to open up for Nine Inch Nails for their “last” show within their Wave Goodbye Tour, and yet they are the same band opening the stage Nine Inch Nails would later be closing on Friday night. –Phillip Roffman

Deap Vally Mistake NHL/Stanley Cup as Football-Related; Crowd Outraged

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Photo by Pat Levy

Everything was going well early on in the day at the Petrillo Stage. Deap Vally were halfway through their set as they began to engage in some stage banter. Someone in the crowd was holding up a fake Stanley Cup with “NHL” written on it. Guitarist/singer Lindsey Troy asked, “Is that football?” Proud fans of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks began to boo and someone behind me shouted, “Play the fucking music!” Whether the ladies were just fooling around or just blissfully ignorant, one thing’s for certain: Lolla fans sure love their ‘Hawks.

Minor hiccup aside, the twosome consisting of Troy and drummer Julie Edwards proved to be more than just what we see at the most surface of levels: a couple of babes in short-shorts and torn stockings. Beautiful? Yes. Rock stars? Hell yes. If you’re unfamiliar with Deap Vally, I pay them the ultimate compliment by asking you to imagine that Janis Joplin was able to play lead guitar Ã  la Jack White (Edwards during “Gonna Make My Own Money” being the best example).

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Photo by Pat Levy

They aren’t there in the realm of either one of those artists just yet, but Deap Vally’s ability to somehow infuse more sexuality into blues rock is something to look out for. Introducing the simple, garage-y “Walk of Shame”, Troy added, “I hope you all get one this weekend.” Needless to say, the audience offered up raucous applause. Not a “boo” was heard. —Justin Gerber

Movies in the Park: Eyes Wide Shut, or Ghost B.C.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Rain sprinkled as Jocelyn Pook’s “Backwards Priests” — known by all Kubrickians as The Orgy Music — haunted the north side for several minutes. The score proved menacing, thanks to 1.) Those nearby black clouds that really looked like they promised hell and 2.) the Nameless Ghouls sauntering across the stage. The five of them, who represent fire, water, wind, earth, and ether, quickly segued into their not-so-unique blend of pop metal, which led to an appearance by Ghost B.C.’s Papa Emeritus II.

“Holy shit, Chicago, are you doing well?” the elusive, Swedish frontman asked. His accent was too charming for his demonic front, and when he later added, “Join us now in a last ritual,” he sounded less like Satan’s aide and more like that nice foreign exchange student you want to invite out for a drink.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Visual aesthetics aside (and that’s a big aside), Ghost B.C. just doesn’t really bring much outside of generic modern rock. Emeritus II’s vocals eschew any sinister overtones, while the music swings between the blind rock ‘n’ roll of Blue Oyster Cult and the galloping transcendence of U2, all with that latter-era Metallica wash. So without the makeup and the robes, it’s doubtful I’ll be conjuring up Infestissumam on my own. Still, when someone tells you they’re the Pope of the Underworld, there’s no walking away. –Michael Roffman

Father John Misty’s usual hijinx… and a unicorn, too

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Photo by Pat Levy

It was plenty humid and the mood was becoming lazy when Father John Misty took the stage mid-afternoon, but the band was quick to remedy that situation. “There’s a lot of, like… dance music over there,” observed J. Tillman casually before stubbing out his cigarette and ripping into Fear Fun opener “Funtimes in Babylon”. On the chorus lyric, “Look out Hollywood/ here I come,” Tillman leaned into a nearby camera straight-faced and gave it the finger. With that attitude and a punched-up sound, Father John Misty roared through the shortest hour all day.

Tillman held court over the Lake Shore stage, conducting his band with a slip of the hip or a flick of the wrist in a tossed-off way. But his deep, sonorous voice displayed a polish that belied that casual swagger, and his band’s enthusiasm outperformed the recorded version of the songs entirely. “I’m Writing a Novel” took on a new life with cranked-up guitar and plenty of emphasis on the country-style keys. “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” exploded and dissolved into a haze of fuzz and wailing feedback.

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

Midway through “Nancy from Now On”, Tillman spotted a unicorn head mounted on a stick and between lyrics commanded, “Give me that.” He serenaded the head tenderly for a verse before kissing it passionately and tossing it back into the adoring crowd, all without breaking stride. –Megan Ritt

Synchronized dancing with Jessie Ware

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Remember that scene in She’s All That when everyone just knows how to dance to Fatboy Slim? Wasn’t that kind of annoying, and didn’t you, even at age 15, think, That’s not reality. Au contraire, mon frere. Apparently, when it comes to Jessie Ware’s “Sweet Talk”, all of Chicago knows how to quickly two-step on command. An unreal feat given that most of the city acts like an awkward scarecrow at any show, whether pop, hip-hop, or punk.

Yet Ware’s just a commanding presence. During her opening performance of “Devotion”, the UK R&B sensation ushered around the stage, tipping off the sound guy to a volley of problems: from her own mic, to the keyboards, to the bass, etc. Her perfectionism warranted results, bringing to life the Peter Gabriel-esque rhythms on “Still Love Me” and the ’90s romanticism of “110%”.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

However, there was one thing she couldn’t fix, and that was her proximity, as she apologized: “I’m so sorry I’m so far away from you — they were predicting rain. There’s no rain!” Can’t speak for everyone, but if the tall chap in the matching leopard-print hat and shirt was any indication, everyone was quite jubilant. –Michael Roffman

Alice Glass loves Jameson — and slapping her face

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Photo by Pat Levy

Crystal Castles’ Alice Glass crawled out on bruised hands and knees, cozying up to a bottle of Jameson before lurking near enough to the mic stand for grim opener “Plague”, lead track off last year’s eerily mesmerizing release, (III). Her listless movements and marionette sways hypnotized a rambunctious crowd, whose energy – like Glass’s fists on the cymbals – exploded during the uptempo “Baptism” and the cacophonous “Alice Practice”.

Group leader Ethan Kath nodded his approval and pulsed out a current of electronic surrealism and video game harmony, while Glass mounted the drum kit and guardrails, challenging the thousands of onlookers to stick around for a glimpse of Crystal Castles in action.

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

And they didn’t disappoint. The group was in excellent form, proving that their industrious live shows continue to be festival highlights and strong examples of controlled chaos in the best kind of setting. A bleached blond Glass wound down the set by slapping her own face during “Untrust Us” (recently covered by The Capital Children’s Choir) while the extended drum solos and instrumental forays added a nightmarish danger and warlike belligerence to it all. –Dan Pfleegor

Joy Division’s mini Lolla set (by New Order)

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Photo by Pat Levy

Bernard Sumner kicked off New Order’s surprisingly energetic set (no pun intended, despite the fact that he did break his leg recently) by comparing Chicago to his hometown of Manchester and saying how much he felt at home. Thank god for that because the way the band ripped through their set it was obvious that they were comfortable and very much in their element. Following a string of blockbuster hits — not to brag, but they powered through “Crystal”, “Ceremony”, “Bizarre Love Triangle”, “True Faith”, “Blue Monday”, and “Temptation” — the outfit dug deeper into the past and exorcised the spirit of the late Ian Curtis by revisiting three Joy Division classics. (Admittedly, they’ve been doing this on-tour for the past year, but this time it felt special.) “Atmosphere”, “Transmission”, and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” destroyed the emotional sensibilities of a very veteran-heavy crowd, and while Curtis never had a chance to perform in America, it was sort of, kind of, maybe like he was there with us. –Pat Levy

Disclosure finds summer home, throws weekend’s biggest house party

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Photo by Michael Roffman

Full admission: There was an ounce of trepidation prior to Disclosure’s defining set at The Grove. For one, how could only two minds – Guy and Howard Lawrence — replicate the deep house/UK garage perfection of their recent full-length debut, Settle. It seemed impossible, as if they were bound to just push play on a really high-quality MP3 track of their album. Instead, by set’s closing I found myself scribbling down: “Daft Punk could benefit from seeing their show before supporting Random Access Memories.”

Maybe it was the uncontrollable mass frenzy outside the stage or the idea that the nu-progenitors of House were playing the largest festival in The City That House Built, or maybe both Lawrence brothers just know their shit, but Disclosure’s druggy fuck fest of a set felt the birth of a sensation, as if this were the calm before the storm. Minds evaporated into the air once they sparked up “When a Fire Starts To Burn” and then “White Noise” and, yes, “Confess to Me”, as organic bass lines and percussion tagged along with the digital reproductions. Like holy shit. Seamless.

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Photo by Michael Roffman

The only missed opportunity was that Ware, who had only played two hours prior, didn’t join them onstage. Otherwise, it was a dynamite set from a pair of youngsters, who retained such a cogent appreciation for Chicago’s late scene that it never once felt like a false retread or, even worse, trespassing. Once Howard humbly added, “Thank you, Chicago, and everything you’ve done,” it was difficult to resist the urge to storm the stage and give him a bear hug. Nice guys finish as kings, apparently. –Michael Roffman

That Rashomon moment with Chance the Rapper

…or, the first woefully mis-planned set of Lolla 2013. For the first half of Chicago phenom Chance the Rapper’s performance, the sheer size of the crowd simply overwhelmed the BMI Stage’s underequipped soundsystem, denting Chance’s chances before he even took the stage. He began burning through Acid Rap’s choice cuts including “Good Ass Intro”, “Juice”, and “Everybody’s Something”, but there was a noticeable disparity in engagement between those within 30 feet of the stage and everyone else. For a bit, it looked like he might be robbed of a fully realized Acid Rap victory lap on his home turf. But in a well-timed move, he left the stage with 10 minutes left to set up an encore with additional band members, which both beefed up his sound and allowed the crowd to loosen – just in time for a surprise guest spot from Twista on closer “Cocoa Butter Kisses”. –Steven Arroyo

The smooth, sexy filth of Queens of the Stone Age

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

When you’re young and impressionable—say middle or high school—bands have the ability to scare you. The pedophilic shadow on Korn’s first album, the video for “Closer”, effin’ Marilyn Manson—these things were all a part of one big musical horror movie for me, a movie that, admittedly, got goofier as I got older. And for some reason, I lumped Queens of the Stone Age in with these trying-to-be-dark rockers when I first heard them. Maybe it was their album art. Maybe it was their song titles. Maybe it was Nick Oliveri. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that the Queens’ music—even when it went to some legitimately dark places (as this year’s excellent …Like Clockwork did)—was sexy. The band drove this aesthetic home during their twilight Lolla set, locking the crowd into a haze with libidinously robotic takes on cuts from Songs For The Deaf and …Like Clockwork, with a handful of cuts from Rated R, Lullabies To Paralyze, and Era Vulgaris thrown in for good measure.

Josh Homme swayed and bent like a drunk redwood during bouts of almost-dancing, chewing up the juicy one-liners of “Smooth Sailing” and divvying up the crowd by gender for a singalong of “Make It Wit Chu”‘s falsetto chorus. And while I would have loved to see “You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire” sung in Oliveri’s high-register yowl, and maybe a cameo from Trent Reznor on “Kalopsia” or “Fairweather Friends” if either song had actually been performed, there was still much to love. There were scary projections (vampires! red suns! bird shadows!). There were extended drum fills from Jon Theodore (“Burn The Witch”). There was Troy Van Leeuwen in a Pee-Wee Hermanesque suit (“HA!”). There was Bruce Campbell waiting in the wings to come out at the end of the set and say “Groovy”. Okay, one of these is a lie. A sexy, sexy lie. –Dan Caffrey

The nonexistent crowd at Frightened Rabbit’s emotional set

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Photo by Pat Levy

Pity Frightened Rabbit. Sandwiched uncomfortably between Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails and playing against Hot Chip, the Scottish rockers poured their hearts into their hour-long set. It’s a shame the crowd didn’t seem to notice.

Scott Hutchison and co. sweated and screamed, but QOTSA’s bass shook the ground and rattled the air pervasively throughout the front of the set. The open-air acoustics also took a toll on both stage banter and lyrics, rendering Hutchison’s thick accent even more impenetrable than usual. The band opened with “Living in Colour”, which is neither its best known nor easiest to follow track, and by the time QOTSA finished and the sound improved, any casual listeners had wandered away.

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Photo by Pat Levy

For the hardcore fans that remained, Frightened Rabbit had some treats in store, including a rip through their best material from this year’s Pedestrian Verse. “Late March, Death March” and “Holy” lit up the guitars, and with less background noise, the band gained command of their audience. “Old Old Fashioned” provided a chance to dance, as did the fast part of an upbeat rendition of “Backwards Walk”. The crowd became a “Lollapalooza-sized human accordion” on highlight “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”. The simple chorus grew into a chant, culminating in a long guitar solo and raucous applause.

And then the minute Frightened Rabbit finished their closer, a dampened version of “The Loneliness and the Scream”, a crush of Lana Del Rey fans stormed in from the sidelines. –Megan Ritt

Nine Inch Nails “Stop Making Sense”

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Trent Reznor recently said he felt the recording of Nine Inch Nails’ forthcoming Hesitation Marks was both sparse and minimal. A minimalist approach bled its way into NIN’s performance as they closed Friday Night on the Bud Light Stage (“Drink responsibly”). A large, blank backdrop covered the backdrop as Reznor marched out to the center stage. He began a new song, the Pretty-esque “Copy of A”, all by his lonesome, with a single machine and a lit mic stand. As the song progressed, stagehands began setting up additional instruments, and their players approached one-by-one to play them. This design was influenced by the Talking Heads’ setup during their Stop Making Sense performances and, like those shows, was a fantastic way to kick off the proceedings.

Mini-backdrops moved around constantly during the show, providing places for band members’ shadows to dance upon. Sometimes the screens would combine to form screens filled with static (“Terrible Lie”, “Only”), other times to hide Reznor during “Closer” while a close-up of his face blazed red upon them, via projection. The set design moved right along with the oft-leaping frontman, whose time off from the band has only re-energized him. He’s been in good shape for years now, a far cry from the wafer-thin days of Pretty Hate and Downward (clean living’ll do that for you, I suppose). By the penultimate song, Reznor was as insanely mobile as anyone in the crowd, bouncing to “Head Like a Hole” as white lights were fired into the audience.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

If we look back on what-could-have-beens, then, yes, it would have been interesting to see guitarist Adrian Belew on stage thrashing his way through the green lights washing over “The Wretched”, as well as bassist Eric Avery leading the way for “Piggy”. They both quit before we had a chance to see them, but for Pete’s sake we get Robin Finck back in their stead. Finck’s been touring with Reznor for nearly 20 years, and it just seems right having him out there. While we’re on the topic, it felt wrong when Finck was with Axl.

The show ended the way every Nine Inch Nails performance must end from now until the great beyond, as Reznor confessed, “I hurt myself today.” Lighters were raised along with cell phones and their respective apps, the final sing-along was mounted, and guitars overwhelmed the vocals as they roared in the end. Welcome back, my sweetest friend. Good luck, remaining headliners. —Justin Gerber

Watching The Lumineers with Aaron Paul

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Photo by Amanda Koellner

The mastermind behind Breaking Bad’s Jessie Pinkman seems to hop his way through summer vacation by attending music festivals (stars, they’re just like us!). He was spotted all around last year’s Lollapalooza, and he’s returned for seconds this year, keeping the night alive with aftershows a la The Lumineers at The Vic. After spotting him to the right of the venue’s photo pit, this BB fanatic geeked out a bit, only to be stopped by Paul upon exiting the pit and, consequently, questioned as to the mysterious ways of the photo pass.

It should be noted that The Lumineers rolled through the majority of their sometimes elegant, sometimes janglin’ debut, covered Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, and treated us to new tunes (like the encore’s “Gun Song”, which frontman Wesley Schultz dedicated to his dad). It was a charming, fine show, trumped by the surreal opportunity to watch Paul’s reactions as he happily basked in a folk-rock concert — nine days away from the beginning of the end of his AMC masterpiece. If only Mr. White could have seen him. –Amanda Koellner


Photographer(s): Heather Kaplan, Amanda Koellner, Pat Levy, and Joshua Mellin

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