Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day Two


2013 lolla Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day Two

Lollapalooza is officially two-thirds over. Do you know where your children are? Statistically speaking, they’re likely rocking some ’90s-style acid-washed cutoffs with a homemade crop top to match. Fashions repeat themselves and so do lineups. But Saturday’s Lollapalooza schedule managed to pay tribute to the past while focusing a keen eye on impending waves. Fans could take in the The National, plus a swan song performance by The Postal Service, and then go sample Kendrick Lamar, Local Natives, and Foals. Not too shabby.

The high number of stages gets a tad overwhelming, but day two proved that most attendees are fully capable of constructing elaborate systems of festival ground ricochet, hopping in for a few songs here while jetting out to a couple of showcases over there. Imagine 80,000 of your closest friends each wandering in their own direction at once, as though a cog in the wheel of a complicated dance number.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Between the abundance of bao dumplings and lobster corndogs, late set cancellations from Death Grips and Azealia Banks, and the soothing harmonies of HAIM providing an encouraging soundtrack for Port-O-Let lines, things are best taken in stride. Don’t like the band onstage? Walk in any direction for five minutes and your fortune will improve. Dig the set? Then go check out the after show at one of dozens of post-Lolla bar hall gigs.

We’re down to the homestretch on Sunday, so sit back in the meanwhile, try to remember where you last left your hand sanitizer, and enjoy a recap of Saturday’s highlights — 13 of ’em.

Love, Reignwolf o’er Me

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Jordan Cook, a.k.a. Reignwolf, screamed out a single question that gets asked at so many concerts at so many venues: “Are you ready?” We said, “Yes!”, but had no idea of the scintillating storm to come. For “Electric Love”, the first song of the set, the guitar virtuoso played guitar solos while still holding the microphone in one hand. He messed about with a kick drum to start, but eventually walked back to play upon the full drum kit while still playing guitar. Then he played the guitar with a drumstick. Oh, he did all this by himself onstage while sing/screaming.

reignwolf lolla kaplan 13 Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day TwoAfter introducing the bassist (his “’brother,’ Stitch”) and drummer, the band played its special brand of blues rock with a smash of metal in “Palms to the Sky” and a Fleetwood Mac cover. Cook, mini-electric and kick drum in tow, played “The Chain” solo, joining Trent Reznor and Dave Grohl in an unnamed quest to make Lindsay Buckingham cool in the 21st century. The recently released “Are You Satisfied” demanded a solo so severe that Cook had no choice but to wrap the microphone around his neck while he played it. This energy fed into the crowd, many of whom were undoubtedly unfamiliar with most of Reignwolf’s work (no album release, as of yet).

Calling for an encore at 2:40 in the afternoon at any festival is simply unheard of, but here they were demanding it. The band came back to the stage for two more minutes, disassembling the drum kit so each of them could play a part of it for their finale. No one else was touching Jordan Cook’s guitar, though. He’ll never give that up, microphones and kick drums be damned.

Before I forget, he played a furious guitar solo in the audience, as well. Go see Reignwolf in concert as soon as possible. —Justin Gerber

St. Lucia’s good vibrations

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Chicago wasn’t shy to show its beautiful blue sky to Lollapalooza for day two. With sun-beaten smiles walking about the park, it was interesting to see The Grove stage build its audience way before the colorful sounds of Brooklyn’s St. Lucia hit the stage — a group incredibly eager to present their efforts involved within their collection of EPs. Whether fans or straight-up passersby, The Grove-area crowd didn’t stand a chance to relax when frontman Jean-Philip Grobler lifted everyone to the choruses of “Closer Than This”, “All Eyes on You”, and “Before the Dive”. Current single “Elevate” left every newfound island-craving soul hungry for their debut full-length, When the Night, which arrives just in time for the Season of the Witch — ahem, October 8th. Can’t fucking wait. –Phillip Roffman

Soul Church with Charles Bradley

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Photo by Pat Levy

If I’m close enough to the Bud Light stage, I try my hardest not to look at the jumbotron. But as far up as I was for Charles Bradley’s set, it was impossible to avoid. The giant screen kept a tight focus on his hypnotic face, a dog-eared road map that tightened, expanded, screamed, cried, and cackled depending on what he was singing. When the camera zoomed out, it was to show the 60-something singer’s repertoire of dance moves, which included some freaky sex choreography during “Confusion” (that’s confusion, he told the crowd) and lugging the mic stand over his shoulder as if he was Jesus carrying the cross. Coupled with his band’s Jericho-toppling horns, it made the metaphor of soul church surprisingly literal. –Dan Caffrey

Afternoon delight, courtesy of Local Natives

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Photo by Debi Del Grande

A breezy mid-afternoon set calls for an equally breezy setlist, and LA-based Local Natives were equal to the task. A sizeable crowd streamed in steadily throughout their hour-long stand at the Red Bull Stage, lured in by the accessible indie guitar rock. “You & I” and “Colombia”, both from this year’s Top Star-earning Hummingbird, added a thoughtful edge to the mix, while sunnier cuts from their 2010 debut, Gorilla Manor, kept the overall mood light. Dance-ready “Sun Hands” closed things out, evoking a roar of joy from the crowd, who clapped and sang along. Somewhere in there the sun’s golden rays danced over the south fields as a cool chill cut through entranced fans. Delightful, really. –Megan Ritt

Watching Unknown Mortal Orchestra with Honey Boo Boo

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

“That was like an even better version of Rush,” a nearby fan moaned. Yes, moaned. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s evening set exhausted the sensibilities of its tragically small crowd, which included one Honey Boo Boo. As Ruban Nielson dissolved his fingers into his fret, a cardboard cutout of America’s favorite little shit bobbed back and forth, almost mocking those who were losing their minds to the New Zealand rockers’ ’60s psychedelic brainsoup. Having seen UMO in support of their 2011 debut, I was weary on how their close-pocketed sound would translate outdoors, namely at a banner festival like Lollapalooza — especially since their latest, this year’s II, is so intimate of a trip.

What I came to learn — rather quickly, actually — is that the album is just a template for the stage. This is an act that recognizes music is to be heard live and not in the comfort of one’s home, or worse, on a pair of shitty headphones. Behind hit kit, drummer Riley Geare loses his concept of reality, working with the progress of Mitch Mitchell and the endurance of a roided Keith Moon. While Jacob Portait remains stoic at bass, it’s to Nielson and Geare’s advantage, especially as they ruggedly swing through retooled tracks like “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)”, “How Can U Luv Me”, and “So Good at Being in Trouble”.

The OMFG moment waved its hands during new song “I’m a Communist”(?), which sounded and felt like this transcendental orgy of Jimi Hendrix, early Sabbath, and the rebirth of rock ‘n’ roll altogether. Nielson and Geare wrung every riff, note, and ounce of distortion dry until the bones cracked and became dust — it was the sort of jam that made you appreciate jams again. And at the end, Nielson came to by adding, “I like the baby face,” making Honey Boo Boo’s day. Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t here to stay, but it felt like it for that 45 minutes. –Michael Roffman

Holy Fire, dancing, and Foals

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Photo by Pat Levy

Some bands seem destined for festivals. Acts like Hot Chip and Haim know how to manipulate expectations and react to audience whims. Foals fall into this category of clever onstage troubadours but also deserve a bit of extra credit for convincing a mass of humanity gathered on blacktop cement to dance despite it being a blazing hour of long solar shadows and blinding sunlight. Foals kept things cool as they wound through a number of cuts off 2013’s underrated gem Holy Fire, transforming the sweaty parking lot charm of the Petrillo stage into a UK rave hall. Live renditions of “Inhaler” and “Bad Habit” found frontman Yannis Philippakis – armed with a signature high-strapped guitar – confessing that his obsessions and shortcomings are not easily shaken off, while crowd-pleaser “My Number” elicited a number of fist pumps and make-out sessions from the happy folks nearby.

A Foals’ gig near the end of the summer just feels right. Think of it this way: would you rather be shaking your ass to gleeful keyboards and synths while your neighbor’s heart pumps new wave or be stuck shoveling snow? Granted, these choices aren’t fair and pose a seasonal bias, but come on, haven’t you ever listened to Antidotes? –Dan Pfleegor

Being the only Matt Saracen at Heartless Bastards

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Photo by Pat Levy

On Friday Night Lights, teenagers Matt Saracen and Julie Taylor go to a Heartless Bastards show in Austin in what ends up being a pretty pivotal episode in the series. The concert is filled with younger faces, oddly portraying the blues-rockers’ songs as “what the kids are listening to these days.” Maybe things are different in Texas, but the Bastards’ modest Grove set played to a smaller, decidedly older crowd, at least by Lolla standards. That didn’t affect the band’s energy or performance, though. Live, their songs amped up the raw looseness heard on their records; Jesse Ebaugh’s bass almost served as a slide guitar on “Only for You”, and Erika Wennerstrom’s moaned with extra husk and rasp on “Skin and Bones”. It wasn’t Perry’s. But I doubt anyone there wanted it to be. –Dan Caffrey

The National’s ensuing track record in not fucking us over

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

The National might not have been headlining, but don’t tell them that. Between a sprawling greatest hits setlist, a punched-up sound, and frontman Matt Berninger’s irrepressible energy, their 2013 set was one for the books.

After The National’s famously awesome 2010 Lolla appearance, nothing less than legendary would do for their triumphant return, and they did not disappoint. Seeing them rip through classics like opener “Fake Empire”—an appropriate choice, since that song also heralds the beginning of their massive hit album The Boxer—and later cuts like “Bloodbuzz Ohio” would’ve been treat enough. But a live brass duo spiked the mix with enough drama to blow the minds of even longtime fans. Lavish trumpet and fat trombone punched up slower tracks like “England” and, along with an arena-sized guitar sound, kept the energy consistently high.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Recent release Trouble Will Find Me supplied plenty of tracks, including “I Should Live in Salt”, “Don’t Swallow the Cap”, and “Graceless”. It must be tempting to hype the newer material, but like the true rock kings they’ve become, The National mixed those tracks gracefully with the beloved older material, slipping between numbers with very little talk in between. In doing so, they managed to fit an impressive 17 songs into their 75-minute set, with a deep enough slice of their rich back catalogue to satisfy even the pickiest fan.

Berninger himself was a sight to behold. He threw his mic to the stage during “Afraid of Everyone” before slugging wine from the bottle during an extended guitar solo. He screamed wildly over pounding keys on “Abel”, perched atop an amp to serenade the crowd and later hurled his mic stand on “Graceless”, and ran through the screaming crowd during “Mr. November”. The audience gave his energy back fivefold, singing along lustily on every track. As the explosive, seemingly bottomless set finally ended, big rock guitars burst open “Terrible Love”—and Berninger crowd surfed, maintaining his inimitable baritone all the while.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

People leaving most shows talked of what they’d see next or where they’d meet their friends. People leaving The National talked only of The National. –Megan Ritt

Wheelchair crowd surfers at Kendrick Lamar

Ladies and gentlemen, your two ballsiest performances of Lollapalooza 2013: both men who loved Kendrick Lamar enough to literally take their fandom to new heights, earning their shoutouts from K Dot the hard way. We don’t even need to see Sunday. It’s already over. –Steven Arroyo

The Postal Service (get ready to) bow out

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

The Postal Service’s (assumed) penultimate performance opened on a jovial note, maybe an early attempt at breaking the ice of their big Twitter announcement hours earlier. “I think that’s enough fog,” Ben Gibbard said once the intro stage effects started to get excessive, and those were his first words of many to an age-diverse audience trying hard to resolve their simultaneous excitement and disappointment. After spanning every track from Give Up and taking a team bow, the band is now one show away from the end of a successful comeback tour that saw a reinvention of their stage lineup as half-male-half-female, and a number of welcome live amendments to old songs (Gibbard’s guitar solo during “Clark Gable” and Jimmy Tamborello’s vocal solo at the end of “Recycled Air” among them). Also, a lot of that puzzling, junior high dance chaperone-approved dancing – contact-free grinding, really – between Gibbard and Jenny Lewis. –Steven Arroyo

Mumford and Sons: Fans Only

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Photo by Pat Levy

Most of those not tripping the life nostalgic at the Bud Light Stage for The Postal Service’s second-to-last show were at the Red Bull Sound Select Stage for London’s own Mumford and Sons. And by most I mean 200,000,000 people. It was packed from one stage to the next, the crowd overflowing into the stairwells and hills leading to other sections of Grant Park. For every hater of the family Mumford there were 10 fans eager to attend the festivities. The band was hardly intimidated by the sea of followers. Leader Marcus Mumford strolled out to center stage, the Red Bull large video screens on either side of him displaying him and the rest of the band in black and white throughout. He launched into the quick strum of “Babel”, and the banjos were a’banjoin’, Mumford’s kick drum was a’kickdrummin’, and the cool, pleasant night (which capped one of the coolest days in Lolla history) was offered cool and pleasant music.

Mumford and Sons get a lot of shit from the critics. Hell, I give ‘em shit. They play it predictable a lot of the time — several songs with a solo Mumford strumming furiously on guitar before either his own kick drum joins the parade or his bandmates on their various instruments. But the music isn’t offensive. No one’s sexuality is being attacked. No one’s religion or race is being called into question. They are a festival-ready band for all ages. “I Will Wait” had thousands of people screaming promises in unison in the world’s most epic sing-along. Fireworks exploded (coincidentally) down the street during an exuberant “Lover of the Light” (I still wish Idris Elba could have reprised his role as the blind man from the music video. Maybe he could have run through the crowd. You can never have too much Stringer Bell, folks.).

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Photo by Pat Levy

During the encore, the band paid homage to a man well-steeped in the knowledge of how to amp up an audience. Band members gathered around a single mike to perform Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire”. “Thank you so much for letting us do that,” Mumford said post-song. A faithful adaptation for a faithful audience. Critics be damned. –Justin Gerber

Darkness on the Edge of Mumford and Sons

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Photo by Pat Levy

Something no one talks about in great detail during festival reviews are those on the outskirts; festival attendees obviously in the vicinity of the stage show, but mostly aloof. For Mumford and Sons, they were on full stereotypical display. Perched just close enough to see the screens and barely hear the music, the outskirters exhibit a variety of behaviors. There are the make-out sessions between tall men and short women in front of total strangers. The gaggle of fools foolishly believing they can make it to the front of the stage for roughly 15 seconds before giving up and blocking the view of those who had been waiting patiently.

There are drunk humans stumbling about, who are intoxicated off of overpriced beer at a festival they paid (or had someone pay) anywhere from $75-$235 to attend, and won’t remember a note they heard. Conversations for all to hear, including this exhilarating exchange at full volume: “I texted him,” said Tall Orange Tank Top. “I’m gonna call him,” said Short White Polo. One young man questioned and answered himself in one fail swoop: “Hey, are these twigs all over? Oh wait, they’re beer cans.”

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Photo by Pat Levy

The outskirters will point their cell phones straight up into the night sky and take a picture, only to discover darkness upon looking at them tomorrow. A man in a ROTC/Army shirt asks one question twice, “Are we being rude? Are we being rude?” to no one and everyone. Another young man deliberately waves his hand in front of someone trying to take a picture of the band far away. For no reason. He’s not even drunk. These wastes of humanity echo this behavior until the band plays that one song that everyone knows…

The thousands become one as the banjos and acoustic guitars compete during the opening of “I Will Wait”. All attention is given to the band that everyone should be there to fucking watch in the first place. This temporary moment of respect for those around them is fascinating, no matter who or what the act is. The outskirters join in with the true audience and sing, “I will wait/ I will wait/ For you.” Is this a beautiful event highlighting the power of song or a sad reflection of festival-crowd behavior? We may never know. –Justin Gerber

Songs of the Year, Stand-Up Comedy, and Rockinhaim

haim lolla after kaplan 21 Top 13 Moments of Lollapalooza 2013: Day Two“I feel like I left a quart of blood on the mic at Lollapalooza today,” Este Haim confessed to a sold-out, suitably overstuffed Lincoln Hall at, oh, one in the morning. She looked exhausted — all three sisters did — and despite playing one of their best sets mere five hours beforehand at The Grove, CoSigned outfit HAIM continued to trump themselves by relying less on energy and more on good spirits. “I want to hug and get up on everyone’s boy and girl parts,” she continued.

Such spirits were certainly replenished by St. Lucia’s 45-minute opening set. Combining the tropical flavors of The Police and/or Paul Simon, the mercurial vocal strengths of Passion Pit, and the emotionalism of similar ilk M83, the Australian-turned-Brooklyn collective insisted that everyone forget that their legs were about to snap and, instead, stay positive, keep dancing, scream “Don’t go away,” and dance like a moron to one of the catchiest songs of the year, aka “Elevate”. The live debut of “When the Night”, the title track to their forthcoming LP, started off rocky, but became a quick favorite on its second go-around. Really, St. Lucia’s material recalls the one-off songs in ’80s films that leave viewers thinking, I gotta get that soundtrack.

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So, whether the Haim sisters were catching up on Zs or watching from some unforeseen corner, who knows. Whatever the case, they came out ready to win over another 500-600 folks to the HAIM Army. At the first drop of “Better Off”, the admittedly sluggish crowd found 17 shots of espresso and flung their arms and vocal chords into the air, signing up for detail. New single “The Wire” sounded even better onstage, accented by thicker harmonies, while their guitar-frenzied cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” had a handful of guys up front air guitaring and screaming for their hand at marriage.

But anyone can play guitars. What elevates HAIM from being just any other rock ‘n’ roll act is both their one-of-the-guys personality and maestro-like musicianship. Danielle’s quiet, Alana’s cheeky, and Este’s hilarious — a Marx Brothers of rock ‘n’ roll if there ever was one. “Someone threw me a bra today,” Alana reminisced over their Lollapalooza set. “That’s never happened to me. There was a note inside that said, ‘I support you.'” Sometime later, Este gushed about her maternal instincts, adding: “I don’t know if you hear my ovaries clacking, but I wanna be a mom yesterday.” Laugh riot, but all business when the drumsticks clack. Their attention to detail is confounding; Danielle tunes intermittently at various parts of the songs, Alana goes ADHD between keys and guitar and percussion, while Este looks like Jacco Pastorius reincarnate behind the four-string.

And while it doesn’t get any better than hearing “Falling” (!) or “Don’t Save Me” onstage, especially with their various inflections, it does get special when they’re joined by Mom and Pops to perform the first song they ever played together: “Mustang Sally”. Their father, Mordechai Haim, took residence behind the drum kit, their mother Donna stood center stage at vocals, while the three sisters hit up their respective instruments. Watching the two parents felt like solving a game of Clue; in other words, the apples don’t fall too far from the tree, talent runs in the blood, yada, yada, yada.

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If there’s one thing to take away from HAIM this early in their success, though, it’s that they’re the brand of rock ‘n’ roll necessary for the genre’s survival. There’s life here: People move to them the same way that X’d out neo-hippies dance to Dada Life or Steve Aoki at Perry’s. There’s an edge: Places like the now-defunct Sound City Studios were built for an act like this, one who not only understands the confines of rock ‘n’ roll but also knows what it’s missing. The good news? Their long-awaited full-length debut is finally done, which means they’ll be everywhere in 2014. So, start listening now, goddamn you. –Michael Roffman

Photography by Heather Kaplan


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

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