Photography by Jonathan Fritz
Adding Buenos Aires to its enviable touring loop including São Paulo, Brazil and Santiago, Chile means that Lollapalooza’s foothold in South America is stronger than ever.
Though the Argentinian foray is a bit smaller than its brethren, with two days and 50 bands it’s still a stalwart endeavor which attracted tens of thousands of fans thirsty for a chance to see their favorite acts from around the globe.
Read on for the highlights from this year, and get excited for things to be even bigger and even better in the years to come.
Tuesday, April 1st
Nação Zumbi – 1:00 p.m.
Though the festival grounds were still relatively empty, Nação Zumbi did their best to arouse whoever decided to wake up early and make the trek to San Isidro. Blending hip-hop, rock, and soul with a definite Brazilian twist, the band set an energetic tone for the rest of the festival. –Jonathan Fritz
Onda Vaga – 1:30 p.m.
Arriving at Onda Vaga’s set evoked the memory of first discovering the bohemian rock of Manu Chao, with both groups sharing a complex sound culled through an array of horns, drums, and guitars. –Josh Petersel
Juana Molina – 2:00 p.m.
Juana Molina showcased many of the highlights of her latest (highly acclaimed) album, Wed 21, starting with the title track and closing with “Sin Guia, No”. Notable was her use of looping to fill out her own backing vocals—exemplary especially during “Un Dia”. –Josh Petersel
Oops—that’s definitely a live feed of the wrong band. Juana Molina is on stage in the distance, yet the screen shows Capital Cities. A few minor technical hiccups aside, Lollapalooza’s foray into Argentina went down smoothly. –Josh Petersel
Distinct South American flavor for drums leads to a pet theory: The more percussion a band has, the better their live show will be. –Josh Petersel
Flume – 3:45 p.m.
Flume’s set would have benefitted immensely from situating the decks at the front of the stage, instead of at the back, behind and above a massive LCD screen. Though the setup was definitely a more suitable set design for a late night headliner than for a 3:45 p.m. filler, Flume’s nimble hand and keen ear in mixing “Holdin On” in with samples of Lorde’s “Tennis Courts” demonstrated that he’ll handle himself deftly once he gets the late-night festival call. –Josh Petersel
Cage the Elephant – 4:00 p.m.
“I’ve gotta be honest,” admitted frontman Matt Schultz after fumbling through the tail-end of “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”, “I got so excited to see ourselves on the projector that I forgot the words on that last one.” But, no matter: Shultz and the rest of the band’s energy was contagious, and catapulted the crowd through a set full of loud and fast rock ‘n’ roll. –Josh Petersel
Grunge Ain’t Dead
The sea of Nirvana band t-shirts and throngs of screaming fans for Soundgarden and the Red Hot Chili Peppers squashed any doubt that Argentina has left the early-90s behind. With such a fan-base for Lolla’s wheelhouse of mega 90’s bands, it’s surprising to think that it took the festival this long to travel south of the equator. –Josh Petersel
Julian Casablancas – 5:00 p.m.
Between songs, Julian Casablancas called out Phoenix and challenged them to a soccer match. Towards the end of his set he solicited the crowd to request a song (in a broken attempt at Spanish, noting “I didn’t pay attention in Spanish class. Fuck it! Let’s try it”), settling ultimately on The Strokes’ “Reptilia”. And at the end of the day, long after his scheduled time slot, he crashed the Arcade Fire’s headlining set disguising himself as a member of the band. Does Julian Casablancas even give a shit? Has he ever? –Josh Petersel
The crowd for Imagine Dragons’ set.
Lorde – 6:15 p.m.
Awkward. That’s what struck first and strongest about Lorde’s stage presence. Ella Yelich-O’Connor still has all of the authentic affections of a real teenager, and none of the articulated choreography one might expect of similarly-galactic teenage pop sensations like Justin Bieber or Britney Spears in years past. Through “Tennis Court” she eschewed pops and locks in favor of jagged convulsions and jabs. Her attire was simple—puritan, even—you won’t find fireworks-laden brassieres here. Perhaps Lorde truly will never be “Royals”, despite her roaring success these past 12 months. And perhaps that’s what continues to make her so endearing. –Josh Petersel
In order to get world-class talent to play the festival, Perry Ferrell and the Lollapalooza Argentina crew knew they needed to pull out all the stops. For instance, there was a massive game room tent, complete with ping pong, air hockey, a dozen pinball and arcade machines, and the main event: A Cruis’n World driving game. –Jonathan Fritz
Phoenix – 7:15 p.m.
Phoenix’s live show was as good as ever, weaving hits like “S.O.S. in Bel Air” and “Trying to be Cool” from their latest album, Bankrupt, with their classics “Consolation Prizes”, “1901”, and “Girlfriend”. –Josh Petersel
Kid Cudi – 8:15 p.m.
Kid Cudi could have shrunk and gotten lost with the entire footprint of Perry’s Stage to himself, but instead, his presence shined as he shredded through his biggest hits—most strikingly “Up, Up & Away” and “Pursuit of Happiness”. –Josh Petersel
Nine Inch Nails – 8:30 p.m.
Nine Inch Nails’ new tour only totes four band members, with Ilan Rubin, Alessandro Cortini, and Robin Finck accompanying Trent Reznor. Reznor’s moody vocals still conveyed his distinct anger and emotion, and even 20 years after the release of The Downward Spiral, set closer “Hurt” continues to send chills. –Josh Petersel
Arcade Fire – 10:00 p.m.
After a confusing entrance gimmick utilizing oversized bobblehead masks, Arcade Fire settled in to a sublime performance unquestionably worthy of Day 1’s top billing. The set harped heavily on Reflektor while largely abandoning Grammy-winning The Suburbs, with the band playing live renditions of “Normal Person”, “Reflektor”, “Flashbulb Eyes”, “We Exist”, “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)”, and “Here Comes the Night Time” from the former and only “The Suburbs” and “Ready to Start” from the latter. Anthemic set closer “Wake Up” shook the grounds and sent everyone home enlivened—at least, until it was time to hopelessly search for any kind of available departing transportation out of the Buenos Aires suburb of San Isidro. –Josh Petersel
Wednesday, April 2nd
High on the list of things you don’t have to worry about at most US-based festivals: Dengue Fever.
Bulgara – 12:15 p.m.
Music fans arriving early on Malvinas Day—a national holiday similar to Veteran’s Day in the US—were treated to dulcet vocals and jazzy rock rhythms courtesy of Bulgara. –Josh Petersel
La Bomba de Tiempo – 12:30 p.m.
With apologies to Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas, La Bomba de Tiempo was unquestionably the festival’s definitive Argentinian live music experience. “Live” is an especially critical operator here—as an oversized drum circle, the band didn’t seem to follow a set list beyond a predetermined rotation of directors who each masterfully orchestrate the surrounding dozen or so percussionists through crescendos, solos, tempo changes, and thunderous refrains. The band has a weekly gig outside of Lollapalooza, with a consistently packed house despite being confined to Monday nights. Attending a live show, in whichever capacity, is an absolute must. –Josh Petersel
Airbag – 1:15 p.m.
Easily the festival’s most divisive band. We heard a number of attendees elsewhere around the festival objecting critically to Airbag’s sound, which feels like a mash up of 80’s hair metal with modern pop-rock. But the fans who rushed the stage at the set didn’t seem to mind as they bobbed, swayed, and sang along to brothers Gastón, Guido, and Patricio Sardelli’s lofty vocals. –Josh Petersel
As these fans illustrate, Julian Casablancas wasn’t the only one eager to get into some fútbol action.
El Mato a un Policia Motorizado – 2:00 p.m.
Though “El Mato a un Policia Motorizado” is an aggressive-sounding band name, the band’s mix between power pop and garage rock made for perfect easy afternoon listening. A rookie mistake for a novice Spanish-speaker, it’s worth noting that the lead track of their 2012 album El Nuevo Magnetismo is definitely “Chica Rutera” and not “Chinga tu Tierra”—though it’s worthy of a spin nonetheless. –Josh Petersel
Flag in the Crowd
A few members of the crowd toting the [Uruguayan] flag.
Jovanotti – 2:45 p.m.
Jovanotti definitely took home the award for “Artist Having the Most Fun.” Dancing, smiling, and serenading a red Carmen Sandiego-esque hat on a mic stand, Jovanotti embodied on stage the candor and cheer for which he’s known. –Josh Petersel
The Green Spirit area of the festival and the Rock & Recycle program ensured that festival goers would leave not only with ringing ears, but also with new ideas about sustainable living. Also, you could embrace your self-expression by painting on a huge wooden wall. –Jonathan Fritz
For those who arrived at Lollapalooza with a hairdo that felt too corporate, this booth afforded the opportunity to amp up your style right on the spot. But you’d better be specific—or else you may end up with a Mohawk, pixie cut, or a heavy dose of blue hair dye. –Jonathan Fritz
Johnny Marr – 3:45 p.m.
Johnny Marr’s set relied heavily on prior work. Not just of his time with The Smiths, including performances of “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” and “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”, but also a cover of The Clash’s version of “I Fought the Law”. –Josh Petersel
Is it a bird? A plane? An Amazon.com delivery? Or just a kid trying to get a view over the crowd? Though the toy drone made a few dangerously low swoops, luckily for everyone, it had a good pilot. –Jonathan Fritz
Baauer – 5:00 p.m.
Is the “Harlem Shake” meme—a quiet lull, a sudden explosive party, all over in 30 seconds—an apt metaphor for Baauer’s musical career? The packed crowd at Perry’s Stage, over a full year after “Harlem Shake” went viral, suggests otherwise. –Josh Petersel
This kid’s got the right idea—the volume at side-stage definitely went all the way up to 11.
Vampire Weekend – 5:45 p.m.
Though the crowd may not have used Oxford commas or have been able to point out Cape Cod on a map, they nevertheless ate up Vampire Weekend’s mix of New York City cool and academic wordplay. “Ya Hey’s” sing-a-long chorus transcended any language barriers, and the pulsating beat of “Giving up the Gun” got everyone from the front of the pit to the VIP balcony dancing. –Jonathan Fritz
Though the main festival area wasn’t selling alcohol, the VIP area offered high-end cocktails for those willing to splurge on a ticket. Here, our favorite bartender, Jesus, fashioned what he called a “Diamontese Biaggio.” –Josh Petersel
Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas – 8:15 p.m.
The most-renowned Argentinian band at the festival, Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas took the Alternative Stage by storm with their unique brand of synth-infused rap/funk. “Funky Futurista” stood out as one of the band’s catchiest tracks, and is relatively easy-listening rap if Spanish isn’t your first language. –Josh Petersel
Axwell – 9:45 p.m.
Going head-to-head with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the festival lineup is a difficult proposition if you’re hoping for a large crowd at your set. Axwell’s headlining DJ set at Perry’s stage was sparse in attendance, but had the highest concentration of glow-in-the-dark face paint during the festival. –Jonathan Fritz
Red Hot Chili Peppers – 9:45 p.m.
Simply “Los Red Hot” according to locals, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around the block a few times. Between songs, Flea acknowledged “I need my reading glasses so I can see the setlist.” But that experience is a good thing. Anthony Keidis dominated the stage, leading a swooning crowd through the chorus of “Under the Bridge”. Though the song speaks to the love of a different angelic city, the passion in the air for Buenos Aires was palpable. The crowd rallied the band back for an encore at the end of the set, and Los Red Hot delivered with “Give it Away” before a display of fireworks sent the crowd off in a tizzy. –Josh Petersel
The party didn’t stop with the Chili Peppers’ last chord: At a little after midnight Lance Herbstrong took the stage in a balloon tent behind the press area to play a private concert for the VIP’s in the know. –Josh Petersel