Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day Three


2013 lolla Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day Three

Standing outside for three days is a tricky proposition. Three days trekking back and forth between a mile of headliners is a tiring assignment. But three days spent stopping by all the side stages to check out great live music along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is just a great way to spend a weekend. Fun with friends. Amen. Hallelujah.

Lollapalooza arrived with an ominous rain but ended in a cool summer breeze. Whether this is because of climate change or a mighty fate is a discussion best left to Twitter and Fox News scientists. The fact remains: another year, another Lolla, another summer solstice of music festivals has come to pass.


Photo by Joshua Mellin

Cynics like to jeer the quality of lineups and headliners, but when it comes down to it, each day of Lolla offered a fair deal of older talent, new trendsetters, and a 72-hour dance party at Perry’s. Toss in a loving atmosphere, great food, and some prime real estate along Lake Michigan’s sailboat lanes, and you, sir or madam, have got yourself a primo destination for music fans.

Or, at the very least, a chance to see the live version of some of your favorite albums. The Cure, Vampire Weekend, Grizzly Bear, DIIV, Alt J, etc., etc.. The list goes on and on, but fortunately for you, we’ve chiseled it down to another 13.

ICYMI: Relive both Day One and Day Two.

It’s never too early for a punk show.

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Photo by Ian Witlen

It’s late Sunday morning: you’re exhausted, potentially hungover, and strongly debating not even getting out of bed for day three of Lollapalooza. To add, the last thing that a headache wants to experience is a punk rock show. But Palma Violets’ set proved otherwise as their thrashing electric guitars, punk-riddled harmonies, and careless chaos influenced the festival crowd to start the party a bit early. It was a basement punk rock show drawn through a rock n’ roll strainer, feeding out any over-distorted guitar work and nonsensical lyricism muttering from their ecstatic output.

Fists enthusiastically thrust in the air for newfound anthems like “Best of Friends”, and the crowd swayed, because it was still a bit too early to mosh, to a number of songs from the CoSigned outfit’s debut, 180. It was evident the London rockers had the time of their lives on stage, especially vocalists Chilli Jesson and Samuel Fryer, who pranced and jumped throughout the set’s entirety. Such energy works like wake-up juice for punk rock, and Palma Violets provided a new flavor for every sleepy Lollagoer. –Sam Willett

The Orwells tread line between showmanship and assholery

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Photo by Pat Levy

The Orwells performed that rarest of rarities at Lollapalooza: the afternoon encore. And they more than earned it. Live, their already demented songs became completely unhinged, thanks to the wild eyes and gnarled stage presence of 19-year-old frontman Mario Cuomo. He threw just the right amount of slur on bratty breakout single “Mallrats (La La La)” and cackled appropriately throughout the slow dance-suicide of “Halloween All Year”, all while the rest of the band (Dominic Cuoso and Matt O’Keefe on guitars, twin brothers Grant and Henry Brinner on bass and drums) kept the music itself from getting too out of control.

So, that encore. At the behest of the crowd, The Orwells returned to The Grove stage for a gang-vocaled cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. It came at a fitting time, as I was just thinking that, in their main set, Cuomo reminded me of a goofier version of a young Iggy Pop. Pop was known for cutting his chest to ribbons with shards of glass; Cuomo removed his pants to reveal a pair of droopy Batman boxers. Pop (allegedly) exposed his dick onstage; Cuomo stuck to half of one pale ass cheek. All harmlessness went out the window, however, during the last moment of the song, when Cuomo unplugged the mic and Hail Maryed it into the crowd. Although the mostly teenage audience went wild over the stunt (some ecstatic kids near the sound booth caught it), to me it was kind of horrible. Microphones are heavy, especially when falling from the sky. What if they hadn’t caught it? What if it had knocked someone out? Or worse?

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Photo by Pat Levy

Granted, I’m a good 10 years older and grouchier than The Orwells and most of their fans. And yeah, I’m sure Cuomo was just having fun or acting out his idea of what he thinks punk is supposed to be. So, I get that I’m probably alone in my distaste of the band’s final stage antic. But I dig their music and their electrifying live show. I really do. I just hope they learn to walk the line between showmanship and assholery without ever crossing it. –Dan Caffrey

A New York slice in the Second City

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

New York-based Skaters put out some good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll during their early afternoon set. Bouncy guitars, driving drumbeats, and magnetic hooks make up the band’s magic formula, which ends up sounding like a more lo-fi version of The Strokes. Things started out a little fuzzier but grew clearer and more focused as the set continued. The showpiece was “I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)”, an earworm of a track whose infectious chorus moved the cheerfully boozy crowd to clap enthusiastically in all the wrong places. –Megan Ritt

Wild Nothing’s first swim in the Great Lake

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Photo by Pat Levy

Captured Tracks, from its ignition back in 2008, has always had an impressive catalogue of relatively small artists (e.g. Dum Dum Girls, Thee Oh Sees, Widowspeak, etc.). So, it was a victory of sorts for the label to have Virginia dreampop quintet Wild Nothing on the Red Bull Stage, a.k.a the same stage The Cure would grace hours later. That being said, such acts don’t necessarily belong (or especially need) the larger-than-life atmospheres. And while the Jack Tatum-led outfit showered the south fields of Grant Park with cuts off last year’s Nocturne, there was a vacuous feeling throughout that felt less ceremonial and more isolated. Fans, avid festivalgoers, and random passersby, whose ankles and shins were no doubt exploding, took a moment to either sway, switch off, or saunter out. “It was nice,” most might add. So, while a noted victory for the little guys, it was also a lesson in production: Less is more, little goes big. –Phillip Roffman

The metal performance of Lollapalooza, sans dead Pope costumes

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Photo by Pat Levy

As Alex Clare finished up his set with the dub-worthy radio hit “Too Close”, a number of families and younger fans walked past the Petrillo Sound Stage, where eyes opened in fear from the head bangers ball that was Baroness.”Take My Bones” scared them off, a perfect, flammable introduction courtesy of sparky guitars, John Baizley’s macabre vocals, and the balanced theatrics of the other Savannah three. Alongside The Cure’s iconic guitar work later on, Baroness reigned supreme as the festival’s proverbial guitar gods, as evidenced on set highlight “March to the Sea”. And while Yellow and Greens “Stretchmaker” would have certainly knocked this writer on his ass, their passion and fury did far more damage on the mind. –Sam Willett

Sara Lives!

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Tegan and Sara last played Lolla in 2005, but had to cut their set short due to Sara’s case of heatstroke. Tegan didn’t let her twin sister forget during the show. “Can she make it?” she asked the afternoon crowd, who cheered in support. One fan even held up a sign that said, “SARA WILL SURVIVE LOLLAPALOOZA.” Suffice it to say, she survived, and by show’s end she and her sister could look back on a set that seamlessly blended the dance-pop stylings of their recent release, Heartthrob, with the acoustic-driven tunes from their softer past.

It’s been a make-it-or-break-it year from a commercial-standpoint for the duo, who have admitted to changing things up a bit to gain more mainstream success. Based on the reaction to the Heartthrob material, which dominated the set, they may have found it. Highlights included set-opener “Drive Me Wild”, the audience hopping up and down in sync to “Hop a Plane”, and, of course, Sara Quin reaching the scheduled finish line. Leather jacket and all. –Justin Gerber

Williams: 1, Followills: 0

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Photo by Pat Levy

Although Wavves’ latest record, Afraid of Heights, is being categorized as the band’s “mature” album, their live show remains the same: caffeinated, a little snotty, a lot sloppy. Their Lolla set probably didn’t lose any old fans or gain any new ones. But as nice as it was to see “King of the Beach” and “Post Acid” performed in typical fuck-off fashion, the newer, more expansive tunes could have used a little something beyond garage grit. Nathan, Jenny Lewis was in town, man. Where was she on “Afraid of Heights”? Best moment of the set? Williams sticking it to Kings of Leon by introducing their second song as “the only Super Soaker.” –Dan Caffrey

The Vaccines’ agreeable throwback punk rock

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Photo by Pat Levy

Sunday started early for many Lolla attendees, and perfect weather or not, it was going to be a long wait for evening headliners The Cure. Brit rockers The Vaccines eased that wait time with their enthusiastic, Ramones-esque pop-punk. They kicked things off appropriately with “Blow It Up” and took that title as a literal call to arms. Frontman Justin Young head banged his way through much of the set, and wiry guitar noodling were the order of the day. The setlist drew equally from their 2011 debut, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?, and last year’s Come of Age. Tracks like “Wetsuit”, “Teenage Icon”, and “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” kept energy levels sky-high as the crowd jumped and fist-pumped along. “Ghost Town” was weird, ominous, and wonderful. A one-two punch of “If You Wanna” and “Norgaard” capped off the set on a high note. –Megan Ritt

Vampire Weekend Suck All the Young Blood

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Wild speculation: the only reason Vampire Weekend didn’t close Lollapalooza’s Bud Light Stage on Sunday is because they were closers on behalf of another Chicago-based music festival around this time last year. Pity, because the crowd that amassed bled all the way to the Petrillo Stage across the field for most of their early evening set. In the distance, four women stood atop a large, green, plastic garbage can to get a better look at the New York band. One young man began climbing up a pole as a way to discover another vantage point. The mind boggles at what the turnout would have been versus The Cure, or even Phoenix (who were the true closers later that evening).

Ezra Koenig’s familiar guitar riff opened “Cousins”, and the thousands watching under overcast skies were his. With large pillars hanging from the stage ceiling in front of a flower backdrop, Vampire Weekend gave each of their three records fairly equal representation, including their breakthrough hit “A-Punk”, as well as the best transition of the set: an extended organ solo at the outro of “Horchata” straight into “Everlasting Arms”. Koenig and company even found time to dust off the unreleased “Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)” for the “old-school Vampire Weekend fans in the audience who might recognize it.” A well-rounded festival set by a band that remains on the rise.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

SIDE NOTE: The music eerily duplicated the sound of their records, although I don’t remember any moments where a black man whose pants were falling off jumped the stage only to get tackled by a security guard at any time during my listens of Contra. The mind’s a funny thing, though. –Justin Gerber

Where you guys at? #grizzlybear

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Photo by Pat Levy

Grizzly Bear’s audience size at the Red Bull Stage might not have held a candle to that of Alt-J, the group that played to the south field just before them and who handily outdrew them from Red Bull’s smaller, adjacent stage. But that only meant more bang per (crowd size) buck. Even if Grizzly and their crowd looked pretty tiny in front of the festival’s biggest stage, their sound filled up every inch, never more richly than when bassist Chris Taylor broke out a clarinet. It was their 101st show in support of last year’s Shields, Ed Droste noted, so naturally that was the album they drew from the heaviest. And that meant a whole lot of Christopher Bear’s new, venomous drumming style, and that meant a great, under-attended set all in all. –Steven Arroyo

The Cure for our weekend pop addiction

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

The word “nostalgia” gets tossed around during festival season. Events like Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Lollapalooza have built their brand, in part, around a chance to exploit the maudlin feelings culled from getting the old gang back together for a jog through the past. But this weekend’s gathering in downtown Chicago was a little different. Sure, acts like Nine Inch Nails and The Postal Service showed up and stunned fans who never thought they’d get the chance to catch the live act. Their incredible sets harkened back to decades before and revisited songs that are now associated with fond memories, as well as tough times. And then there’s The Cure. The Cure have been releasing music since 1976. That’s nearly four decades, making them one of the oldest acts to grace the stage this summer. But nothing about The Cure’s 21-song set – nor six encore numbers for that matter – came across as dated. Instead, it felt very present. Very in the moment. And totally real.

cure lolla kaplan 22 Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day ThreeThe safe money says that just about anyone in attendance – as well as those reading – could list a couple of their favorite Cure songs. After all, the English group generated hit after hit throughout the ’80s, carving out a lasting notch in the bedposts of new wave and goth-pop. But part of Sunday’s magic derived from a setlist whose familiarity and technical skill lured in even the most casual of fans. Smith’s satin vocals on “Pictures of You”, “In Between Days”, and “Just Like Heaven” stunned the audience with its reminder that everyone knows who The Cure are, while wedding gift of a tune “Lovesong” erased any belief in temporal novelty. The solos, the lights, the gentle alarm clock synth of “Close to Me”, it all seemed timeless. Tracks from 1989’s masterpiece Disintegrationclaimed by South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone as “The best album ever” – could give any DIIV melody a lesson in the dark theatrics of moody dreamscape, while the playfulness of “The Love Cats” and cute tonal hypnosis of “The Caterpillar” would leave a stunned Haim in awe.

The Cure, even with a stretch of absence in the ’90s, have been likened to both The Stones and The Who for wowing crowds with live shows that feel as good as new. But more accurately, The Cure should stand amongst greats like Neil Young and David Bowie, as artists whose musical journey marches with one foot in the past, while the other, moving in stride, lands neatly in the present. There were plenty of great acts who played Lollapalooza this year, but pat yourself on the back if you caught The Cure. Rob’s still got it, after all. –Dan Pfleegor

Encore Setlist:
“The Lovecats”
“The Caterpillar”
“Close to Me”
“Let’s Go to Bed”
“Why Can’t I be You?”
“Boys Don’t Cry”

Photography by Heather Kaplan

After Hours with Alt-J

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Photo by Amanda Koellner

Alt-J’s Sunday showing had a spark akin to watching Saturday Night Live in secret as a kid, long past bedtime, especially for those who trudged through Lolla at any point in the weekend. “Welcome to after hours with Alt-J,” said keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton as the quartet’s late-night set at Lincoln Hall got underway a tad past midnight. Considering the group’s next show in Chicago is set for the Aragon, whose capacity is about 4,000 people greater than that of Lincoln Park’s intimate gem, this particular final Lolla2k13 installment was one to be savored. In the shadows of the stage and under lights of deep lilacs and blues, the British group bid the weekend adieu as they rode the awesome wave of their debut’s entrancing songs. –Amanda Koellner

And that’s that.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

“Everything will change,” Ben Gibbard and a thousand diehard fans sang together at Metro Chicago. Their voices rang out tired, funereal, and emotionally wrought; these would be the last gasps of The Postal Service, and they’d float up and down the ancient concert hall, the same walls that housed both the birth and demise of the original Smashing Pumpkins. Gibbard, Jimmy Tamborello, Jenny Lewis, and Laura Burhenn would wave goodbye, closing the door on a strange, incidental phenomenon.

postal service lolla metro 7 Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day ThreeThat’s what The Postal Service has always been, right? They’ve never considered themselves a real band, nor have they promised anything more than what they haphazardly conceived, which was a diamond, perfect, once-in-a-lifetime album: 2003’s Give Up. What the past 10 years have indicated, and the reissue’s b-b-b-bonus tracks (“A Tattered Line of String”, ”Turn Around”) have since confirmed, is that, no, nothing will change (despite the words of wisdom behind “Brand New Colony”), the past’s the past, and Give Up, “Such Great Heights”, the ensuing fanaticism, and The Postal Service altogether were simply lightning in a bottle.

Which is what made this reunion tour so curious and/or tragic and/or bittersweet. It’s a nostalgic trip, a broader, more involving method of Looking Back without having to throw all the clutter around in that mind closet of yours. It’s that rare case where the album — let’s call it an artifact for the benefit of the argument — trumps the band. Sure, it’s been wild, wonderful, and whimsical seeing Gibbard, Tamborello, and Lewis all together again, but dig deeper and it’s hearing the artifact come to life that has made this such a well-regarded and hotly anticipated event. Your college days, that first crush, the time you broke off an engagement because the lips of a smoker tasted better are all wired into these songs.

Here’s the thing, though: This wasn’t just a nostalgic trip for us, but also for the parties involved. At the time of Give Up‘s February 2003 release, Gibbard was still months away from releasing Death Cab for Cutie’s breakthrough critical juggernaut, Transatlanticism, while Lewis was between Rilo Kiley’s two strongest efforts, 2002’s The Execution of All Things and 2004’s More Adventurous. Meanwhile, Tamborello was being regarded as this underrated genius for expanding upon the already exceptional work of Dntel. Each mind was at their creative zenith; surprising depth, vivid storytelling, and bleeding hearts translated into integral material that grasped everyone at the right place and the right time. With Give Up, the songs were the heroes, and its lyrics were those we championed — all over our digital walls.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Because of this, “Brand New Colony”, despite closing all of their sets throughout this tour, would never suffice as the band’s rousing epitaph. That’s why it didn’t stop there. To paraphrase Gibbard’s own work, things instead came to a proper finale “with our hands on each other’s shoulders, a meaningful movement… a movie script ending.”



The crowd finishes off “Brand New Colony”. GIBBARD shakes off the sweat from his bangs, clenches the microphone, and smiles as TAMBORELLO replays the looping signature hook for “Such Great Heights”.

(over applause)
Not only is this the last song on tour, but the last song we’ll ever play.

Gibbard, Tamborello, LEWIS, and BURHEN keep the song going for as long as they can. Gibbard forgets about his guitar pedal for the solo, but turns it on just in time. There are smiles. Everyone smiles. Then it ends.

(over deafening applause)
The Postal Service is closed.


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Photo by Heather Kaplan

–Michael Roffman


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

Click here for a full gallery of Day Three’s photos.