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Lollapalooza 2014: Top 40 Moments + Photos

Festival Review

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Lollapalooza isn’t a festival; it’s a metropolis. Eight stages swarm nearly all of Grant Park’s 319 acres, making the festival one of the largest in the country if not the world. Of course, it wasn’t always this way. Back in 2005, when the brand was just an underdog finding a home in Chicago, the Perry Farrell-led fiesta was fighting to stay alive after its heartbreaking cancellation in 2004. (That year, dynamite acts like Morrissey, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips, Wilco, and many more were left without summer plans and scrambled to readjust their touring itineraries. It was a disaster.) But as history shows, the Grant Park experiment was a grand success, resulting in nine successful years that have turned the brand into an essential facet of Chicago’s tourism. What’s more, Lollapalooza has grown into an international enterprise, and the modifier “-palooza” has been adopted as an idiom for all things partying.

This year’s 10th installment at Grant Park was just as successful financially speaking. Tickets sold out, stages were slammed, and the park continued to feel more overwhelmed. But there’s something missing these days. Whatever Lollapalooza originally stood for — an off-the-path chance to experience something alternative in music — has been warped for years. Critics have written about this year after year, especially with the inclusion of more mass-marketed EDM and pop-oriented flair. Yet, even despite these tired grievances, 2014’s lineup disappointed on another level: the lack of any identity whatsoever.

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Upon its unveiling, the Internet — specifically, the online festival scene — erupted in disappointment, lambasting the (rather abrupt) returns of Eminem and Kings of Leon, the unimaginative headliners in Skrillex and Calvin Harris, and the run-of-the-mill midsection that’s been a part of just about every festival these past few months. Even the booking of OutKast was labeled as easy-to-please, regardless of the fact that they’ve been one of the most requested acts over the last decade. Most of these criticisms were a tad unfair, sure, but they weren’t exactly unwarranted, either. What used to be a chance to catch The Alternative has since become an opportunity to witness The Current. By that standard, the lineup came up rather short.

But then the weekend actually came, and the negatives slowly turned into positives. (Well, aside from the ugly controversy surrounding Dev Hynes’ set, which we’ll further discuss in the pages ahead.) Eminem made up for his lousy and unimaginative performance in 2011, Kings of Leon introduced a string section, and the EDM was easy to ignore, namely because there was always something else to find. Look, Lollapalooza’s certainly guilty of becoming more or less gluttonous over the years with regards to expansion, which has certainly reached its nadir. But said gluttony has provided brilliant alternatives; for example, each night, if you “couldn’t give a fuck” about the main headliners, The Grove and Perry’s were perhaps your refuge.

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

That explains why Phantogram entertained those who didn’t care for Eminem or Arctic Monkeys on Friday night, or Cut Copy, Krewella, and Calvin Harris won the 100 people over that didn’t want to witness OutKast Saturday evening, or why Darkside and Chance the Rapper experienced heavy traffic in lieu of Kings or Skrillex for a proper finish to the weekend. These other paths saved the weekend from the general malaise that original lineup poster exuded back in April. They proved that Lollapalooza is not only a chance to see The Alternative or The Current, but an escape for everyone and anyone. That populist approach might not make for the most leisure-oriented weekend, but in the long run, it’s what keeps the majority happy and coming back. Scoff all you like — I have — but that makes the most sense for the business.

And that’s all Lollapalooza ever was in the first place. That’s all any festival is period.

–Michael Roffman
Editor-in-Chief

Best Song About a Pet

Into It. Over It.’s Ode To Miles

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

After seven years of playing as Into It. Over It., with the majority of those shows being in-house shows and tiny clubs, Chicago native Evan Weiss finally made it to Lollapalooza. “What’s up, Lollapalooza? I never thought I’d get to say this. This is awesome,” he said, beaming, as he and his band took the stage. From there, it was all relentlessly positive vibes from Weiss and co. as the band went through many cuts from 2013’s Intersections and 2011’s Proper. With sometimes ripping, oftentimes gorgeous and elaborate guitar work and Weiss’s astute and confessional lyricism, it was the most intimate and uplifting set imaginable for a 1:00 p.m. slot at the Grove stage.

One of the set’s best moments, one that captures why Weiss is such a beloved figure not only in Chicago but throughout the “emo” scene, came right before Intersections highlight “Spatial Exploration”. Weiss asked the audience if anyone was married. When a slew of hands rose, Weiss honed in on a couple in front: “If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been married?” When they responded, Weiss couldn’t help but exclaim, “Fuckin’ a! Two years married. That’s great. Give it up.” That, combined with a song about his 30-pound “legendary cat” Miles (RIP), makes Weiss one of this year’s most endearing characters.

–Josh Terry

Most Charming Set

Courtney Barnett

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

When Australia’s Courtney Barnett performs, her straightforward show matches her no-pretenses, clever brand of indie rock. There was no gaudy backdrop with her name on it (nor will there ever be), just her, her bassist, and her drummer emphatically playing songs off her excellent The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, specifically highlights “Avant Gardner” and “History Eraser”.

With a successful U.S. TV debut on Fallon under her belt and now the surprisingly sizable 2:15 crowd at the Grove stage behind her, Barnett can only go up. While she won’t go for the gimmick, the marketing ploy, or the headline-grabbing behavior, Barnett’s razor-sharp narrative lyricism, and proclivity for punchy, ‘90s-imbued indie rock proves she’ll never need any of that.

–Josh Terry

Best Rain Dance

J. Roddy Walston & The Business

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Photo by Jack Edinger

Day One of Lollapalooza started off with a young teen sitting outside Perry’s Tent crying her eyes out and a young man sitting against a tree so partied out that he was making himself vomit. And all by roughly 2:30 in the afternoon. The shit show was in full force early, but J. Roddy Walston & The Business were there to help. Walston was maniacally flying around the stage, arms raised, whoopin’ and hollerin’ like a Southern preacher, and about halfway through his set it seemed that “God” was listening. The old Lollapalooza tradition of a downpour started right as the band launched into the opening track of 2013’s Essential Tremors“Heavy Bells”. Some ran for cover. Some stayed and loved the cooldown. Walston & The Business just played heavier and harder. They taunted the rain like Foo Fighters did at Lollapalooza in 2011. It washed away the tears and puke, and the crowd was ready to rise again.

–Nick Freed

Best Example of Life Imitating Art

Iggy Azalea Performs “Fancy”

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

“Hot girl, hands off, don’t touch that/ Look at it I bet you wishing you could clutch that/ It’s just the way you like it, huh?/ You’re so good, he’s just wishing he could bite it, huh?” No truer words could have been uttered at Perry’s Stage on Friday afternoon as Iggy Azalea stomped around the stage, performing her Song of the Summer: “Fancy”. As expected, the scene was a clusterfuck of epic proportions as thousands of teenagers swarmed the stage, thirsty for booze, hungry for sex, and rabid for noise. “Feels so good getting what I want/ Yeah, keep on turning it up,” Iggy sang, providing a mantra for a sea of would-be extras for that forthcoming DTV Spring Breakers sequel.

As for the set itself, Iggy’s an exhilarating performer; “Work” and “Lady Patra” were rather athletic highlights that kept the ample demands low. It’s just unfortunate there’s little depth to any of this. At the end of the day, she’s parading around ostentatious pop that’s not so much a conversation on social perversity but more a ringleader. Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales, Mike Judge’s Idiocracy, and Bill Hicks’ Coke commercial bit all came to mind throughout this set, nudging as lost purveyors of future truths that are only starting to scream at us from the stage today.

Still, not everyone’s a believer. Shortly after, one bloated festivalgoer chortled, “All that for one song?!” To quote Iggy herself: “You can hate it or love it.”

–Michael Roffman

The Worst Thing All Weekend That Ruined One of the Best Shows All Weekend

The Blood Orange Controversy

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

Blood Orange put on the best show of Friday, easily. The groovy energy was infectious, taking even the stiffest Day One fest attendees and setting them off into a dancing frenzy. Dev Hynes started the show off with a sincerely grateful speech, telling the crowd how lucky they all were to be there and that he felt just as lucky as they did to be able to be in a place where something like this was possible.

He wore a shirt adorned with the names of victims of recent police and civilian profiling and brutality: Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Eric Garner. Samantha Urbani, of New York band Friends and also Hynes’ girlfriend, wore a shirt that read “Stop Police Brutality” and pleaded with the crowd mid-set to film all arrests and remember that figures of the law are not above the law themselves. All of this made for one of the more politically charged but still wildly entertaining sets of the weekend.

The events that followed the show put the word irony to shame and brought up a bevy of questions about the state of the festival. While walking through the festival, Urbani was stopped by festival security and questioned for reasons that remain unknown. When Hynes tried to interject during the aggressive interrogation of Urbani, he was grabbed by the back of his neck and forced to the ground, where two other security staff members joined in to restrain the musician. Such an unmotivated act of violence is entirely out of place in an environment meant for enjoying music and the company of like-minded people.

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

In recent years, Lollapalooza has become a safe haven for Molly-tripping tweens to sneak in booze and drink it all before they have to take a train back to the suburbs. With so many attendees now fitting into the largely white, largely suburban mold that the festival seems to be aiming for more and more every year with the growth of Perry’s Stage and the consistently younger-skewing lineups, the activities of non-white people become something that security evidently feels must be monitored closely, and if they aren’t doing something wrong, then hey, at least they checked. In a largely white environment like Lolla, it’s important to notice that those presumed to be holding the peace often see people of color as aggressors before anything has even been done to indicate so and will act on these urges with the slightest provocation.

In a series of tweets after the events of Friday afternoon, Urbani said that after speaking with Lollapalooza officials, she had learned that the security was a private firm hired by Lollapalooza for that stage specifically. I’m sorry, but the people who perpetrated the offense not being volunteers only makes it worse, because they are then by definition Lollapalooza employees and not just volunteers who are acting under Lollapalooza’s will but not always within the rules. They were paid to do a job, and instead they assaulted an artist and his girlfriend because they didn’t fit the mold of the festival and were wearing shirts that might come across pretty inflammatory to a security guard who is only doing this to make the money he didn’t make when he failed the police exam. The festival security protocols at Lollapalooza bring to mind the old system that Chicago’s Congress Theater had in place before being shut down for being undoubtedly the worst venue the city had to offer. Ex-cops and muscle heads worked the door, looking intently for someone whose rights they could violate without being called out for it.

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

There have only been two places where I have seen a security person hold a concert attendee’s face against a wall while patting them down to the nth degree, and those two places are the Congress three years ago and Lollapalooza this year. The festival security culture is now officially at a crossroads, with a newsworthy story that paints them in a light that can’t possibly be spun in their favor and brings to the attention of many that there are unchecked protocols being carried out by people unfit to have the responsibility they’re given. As of press time, Lollapalooza had refused to give any statements other than that the events were being looked into and that safety was always their biggest concern. Ok, Perry. How about you prove that and fix this security mess that has been festering for years.

–Pat Levy

Lolla’s It’s Always Sunny Episode

The Gang Pays Homage to Dayman

Who doesn’t love a good cover? Them boys from Wasilla, AK, certainly do! Portugal. The Man proved this by tossing out four during an afternoon showpiece that shifted between originals and mainstream rock anthems. Opener “Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2” and set closer “We Are the Champions” were lighthearted takes on songs that everyone’s heard too many times before. And that’s exactly why it was a treat to watch the band venture a little deeper into the UK songbook with a captivating take on Oasis’s “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. But the absolute highlight was their “Dayman” tribute, ripped from the potholed streets of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Frontman John Gourley’s straight-faced falsetto and sense of the absurd had folks doubling over in laughter as he proved himself a worthy master of karate and friendship for everyone. The gang would be proud.

–Dan Pfleegor

Moment Most Enjoyed by Middle-Aged Rock Journalists Everywhere

Eating a Kobe Slider in the Media Tent While Watching CHVRCHES on TV

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Note: This entry was written by 55-year-old guest reporter Gunther Guthrie.

I have to admit, I was quite excited when the CoS team asked me to cover Lollapalooza to get a “different” perspective on things. But my excitement diminished as soon as I went through security. Even though Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman (hi, Mike!) told me I could go through the media entrance where there was no bag check, I decided against it since it was all the way near Roosevelt and I had just eaten some Panda Express and didn’t want to walk that far. I made the wrong choice. Apparently, you can only bring in tubed suntan lotion and not the bottled stuff. Look, I’m all about safety, but um … what the heck, guys? Sigh. Nine dollars down the drain.

Still trying to remain in good spirits, I headed to the Lake Shore Stage for a band called CHVRCHES. I wasn’t too familiar with them but had heard a couple of their songs while driving my oldest daughter, Jordan, to school. While I prefer Jethro Tull for any sort of commute, I’m also a pushover, so I often let her listen to what she wants. And I have to say, CHVRCHES isn’t bad! Also, they spell the “U” with a “V,” just like the Art Institvte of Chicago, which makes me happy. It’s always great to see today’s youth embracing some culture for a change.

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Anyway, back to the festival. Turns out, the Lake Shore Stage is on the other side of the park. I should’ve just used the media entrance! I walked. It took almost 20 minutes, and I couldn’t even find a spot in the back of the crowd—or should I say, mob—once I got there. I tried mixing in with all the young folks but got a little queasy. These teenagers and the way they dress … well frankly, it upsets me, especially with the girls: all cutoffs and frayed midriffs with their gangly, undeveloped bones hanging out all over the place. Do they like looking like clumsy, newborn deer? I’d never let Jordan leave the house like that. And the guys! Don’t even get me started on those hats. Doesn’t anyone know how to fold the bill anymore?

After dancing to CHVRCHES for about three minutes (some song called “Scientific Visions”, I think), I felt exhausted and depressed. Luckily, I had access to the media tent, where I figured the rest of the CoS writers were hanging out. After some more walking (that should really be the title of this coverage: Lollapalooza: Three Straight Days of More Walking), I found the press area. And what do you know, not only was the whole gang there, but there was free food galore! Kind bars, coconut water, you name it. For dinner, they were serving braised pork tacos and Kobe beef sliders. Since there were also plenty of patio chairs, I was able to sit back, relax, and have a burger while I watched CHVRCHES play on a TV screen. It was just like being next to the stage, only more comfortable and with food and friends. Now this is the life!

–Gunther Guthrie

Most Disarming Moment

Lorde Takes a Seat to Express Her Gratitude

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

On Friday evening, Ella Yelich-O’Connor, aka Lorde, ascends to an empty stage, looks out at the sea of faces turned up to meet her, and floats her soothing, melodic voice over the congregation at Butler Field. Illuminated against a stark black-and-white background, her body convulsing to the hungry beats, she keeps her audience wonderstruck and, if not singing along at the top of their lungs, mouthing her every word.

“You ok?” she asks repeatedly between songs, in her endearing New Zealand accent. Magnificent roars swell in return.

Ella is 17. Let that sink in for a minute.

Towards the end of her set, which runs the gamut of tracks from her smash hit debut, Pure Heroine, Ella lets her guard down. Perching on the edge of the stage, her feet dangling off, she remarks that the crowd is “the size of my hometown.” She says that our faces remind her of people she knows from back home, and many of us look like people she could have been friends with, had she met us on the street.

As she thanks us from the bottom of her heart, we can only look back at her in awe, wondering how she must feel, looking out at us.

–Leah Pickett

Most Fitting Exit Music

Lykke Li

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

“Sadness Is a Blessing” was an oddly therapeutic albeit dour sampling of the emotional numbers to follow, all of which preceded Eminem’s Friday night sign-off. Despite this curious dichotomy of sentimental Sweden and 8 Mile Detroit — as well as stage management’s unfortunately brusk hurry-up-and-finish-so-we-can-get-to-the-headliner attitude — Lykke Li rang stubborn bells of sullen tension, refusing to vacate the premises before delivering a funeral bouquet’s worth of tracks on behalf of the year’s most impacting breakup album, I Never Learn.

Li sauntered about a misty stage in ghostly robes of dusk and shade, sharing that “People have called my new record a bit of a bummer, but I like to think of it as more of a broken dream.” Whether these crestfallen nightmares were painful or revelatory blessings depended on the time frame of a listener’s most recent heartbreak. After all, the tragedy behind lead single “No Rest for the Wicked” — whose hopeless surrender bemoaned, “You let them win without a fight” — was a far cry from the radiant positivity that pulsed far beyond the distant Perry’s Stage.

But Li’s choice to exit beneath a bittersweet recording of the The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” — the penultimate song off the Fab Four’s final rooftop setlist atop Apple Corps —  was a sad reminder that all good things must come to an end.

–Dan Pfleegor

Weekend’s Best Worst Kept Secret

Rihanna Joins Eminem Onstage

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

Anyone who aligned the stars probably knew there was an 80/20 chance Rihanna would join Eminem on stage during his headlining performance Friday night. After all, the two kick off their joint stadium tour this week, and c’mon, it’s Lollapalooza. Of course, that didn’t stop literally thousands of festivalgoers from doing foosball flips when Ri Ri surfaced for “Love the Way You Lie”. In front of a post-apocalyptic bridge that slowly burned away — just one more impressive visual to Em’s blockbuster set — the two ripped through the Billboard smash. They weren’t alone: Girlfriends across the park were hoisted on their boyfriends’ shoulders, singing at the top of their lungs while recording it all on their cellphones. (Look, I’m 6’3″ and I had trouble even seeing the screens!) The madness subsided some during their ensuing performance of “The Monster”, off last year’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2, only to reignite shortly after for their unique duet on Em’s legacy anthem, “Stan”. It felt like a unique moment, even if that’s likely par for course in the weeks ahead. Perhaps C3 has their headliner for next year?

–Michael Roffman

The “OMG They Pulled It Off” Set

Phantogram

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

Whoever schedules at Lollapalooza, consider this my extended thanks: Phantogram at The Grove was perfect. Over the years, Ive had the opportunity of seeing some of my favorite performances at this stage. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The War on Drugs, Disclosure, St. Lucia, HAIM, and Twin Shadow to list from memory. So, when I found out Phantogram was playing this stage as opposed to, say, juggernauts like Samsung Galaxy Stage or Bud Light Stage … I lost my shit. Look, Im tired of attending festivals where my favorite artists are dwarfed and undersold by the stage and crowds, respectively.

But with Phantogram, my biggest fear above all was that their sound would lose itself. Its vast, layered, eccentric, and asks a lot from any engineer. Yet, The Grove’s confines not only tackled their sound to precision but expanded on their impromptu choruses and bridges. Lets take Josh Carters elaborate, satisfying solo in Running from the Cops”, for example. The layers of guitar, beats, and vocal loops are overwhelming, but the more the merrier, to the point that I actually prefer the live version now. But let’s not forget vocalist Sarah Barthel, who added a falsetto to “Black Out Days” that felt almost alien in person.

That being said, I do have one bone to pick with this band. Lately Phantogram has been close with Big Boi and even produced a couple of songs for him with CPUand Lines”. Towards the end of the set, I half-expected the Atlanta hero to pop up onstage and play a little. I guess that surprise was best left for Rihanna and Eminem. Minor grievances aside, dont be a dingus. Go catch Phantogram soon; the records dont come anywhere near their performances. Truth.

–Phillip Roffman

Sharpest After-Show

Spoon

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Word to the wise: Each year, the Metro Chicago typically book at least one of the best Lollapalooza after-shows. Spoon was the essential coup de grace for Friday night. Given that it was their first Windy City performance in a few years, Britt Daniel and his Austin brethren hit the stage to deafening applause from the sold-out audience. They returned the favor by unlocking two tracks off their latest studio album, They Want My Soul: “Knock Knock Knock” and “Rent I Pay”. Both sound bigger than their respective studio versions, which says a lot considering the latter is one brass knuckle of an album opener.

“This has always been a good city for us,” Daniel expressed after “The Fitted Shirt”, adding: “Thanks for coming out and continuing that trend.” It was an honest sentiment proven with one hell of a varied setlist. Any doubts about how the new LP’s eclectic material would mix with the old were stripped almost immediately. The rather chic new single “Do You” exhibited a little urgency onstage, slinging its arms around oldies like “The Ghost of You Lingers” and “I Turn My Camera On” as if they were buddies for life. While the album’s more eclectic fare — “Inside Out” and “Outlier” — satiates both eyes and ears in two razzle-dazzle moments.

Prior to their performance of “Anything You Want”, off 2001’s Girls Can Tell, Daniel added a little context. “This is a song I wrote in Chicago,” he explained. “Ukrainian Village.” Again, it’s apparent that this town’s long been a part of their DNA — don’t forget said album ends with the angsty closer “Chicago at Night” — but today it’s humbling to know how much the city continues to factor into their narrative. After all, next week is their big comeback, and where did they pre-party? Exactly. Pretty cool, 312.

–Michael Roffman

Best Crowd Work/Opening Day Band

Jon Batiste and Stay Human

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Photo by Nick Freed

The first bands of each day always have a few extra obstacles to overcome–more heat, less of a crowd, a hungover crowd, and less notoriety–so they have to be on point to win the audience over. Jon Batiste and Stay Human not only won the crowd over, they went straight to the crowd and wouldn’t allow them to look away. Playing Saturday at noon over at The Grove, the band, fresh off their transcendent performance on The Colbert Report, filled the tree-lined space with upbeat, body-moving New Orleans jazz. The crowd grew more and more into it as they went on, and the band joined amongst them for beautiful renditions of The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly” and their newest single, “Express Yourself”, all with only horns, tambourine, cowbell, and melodica. It was exuberant, exciting, and everything a festival set should be. The only downer was the 30-minute time constraint, which is a major shame given that a great many of the weekend’s later hour-long sets exuded only 10% of the energy, enthusiasm, and passion Jon Batiste and Stay Human brought. Looking at you guys, Interpol.

–Nick Freed

What Technical Difficulties?

The Districts

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Photo by Will Rice

For a band so young, recent CoSign The Districts have already more than proved themselves as excellent live performers. Kicking off Saturday at the Lake Shore stage, they were thrown a noticeable curveball with the wonky speakers at stage left. During “Long Distance”, the entire stage’s left sound went out, causing a fairly disorienting atmosphere. Fortunately, the sound was kicked back on a song later (before cutting out again later in the set), but The Districts are complete professionals, not missing a single beat despite the lingering technical difficulties.

That obstacle aside, it was a memorable 45 minutes that even included some new songs, which the four-piece, including new guitarist Pat Cassidy, bounced and flailed to with the same energy they wowed Shaky Knees and the Metro with, but here it seemed especially unhinged. Towards the end of their seemingly perennial set closer “Young Blood”, which runs at a sprawling 10 minutes, singer/guitarist Rob Grote got too caught up in the song’s final frenetic jam, knocking over his mic, Cassidy’s mic, and nearly himself. Whatever, it was awesome.

–Josh Terry

When Soul Reigned Supreme

Jungle

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Photo by Will Rice

Few know who Jungle are, but their first London gig has sold out on the strength of two blog-melting singles and videos,” wrote The Guardian last year, attempting to unravel the mystery that is Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland. Mind you, at the time of publication, these men were strictly known as J and T and their actual identities weren’t released until June of this year. But to be fair, I can see why the writer was so dead set on understanding the London collective. They’re as cool as Shuggie Otis, the Bee Gees, and a fucking disco ball. This isnt sarcasm folks. Its the honest truth. I love disco balls.

Jokes aside, Jungle proved worthy late Saturday morning by roping in a nice crowd at the gargantuan Samsung Galaxy Stage. (Not too shabby for an act with one (polarizing) record to their name, huh?) But their appeal lies strictly in their ability to shake up Motown memories that get the legs shakin’ like Jell-O. The pinnacle moment of their show? When Jungles biggest track, Busy Earnin’”, erupted from the stage, allowing bored audience members of Perrys Stage to strut away from their electric tunes and indulge in eclectic tunes. Groovy.

–Phillip Roffman

Most Receptive to Parental Advice

GROUPLOVE

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

Note: This entry was written by 55-year-old guest reporter Gunther Guthrie.

You caught me. Guilty as charged! I love GROUPLOVE. These kids really know how to rock. I liked that their costumes were fun, but not too revealing. Quirky body suits, funny-striped socks, and blue hair? Love it, love it, love it. They also covered “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, a song that I’d always play in my apartment while I was getting my MBA at Pepperdine. Tip: “Sabotage” is great for when your PO’d at your loud, undergrad roommates. Just sayin’.

My only complaint about GROUPLOVE is that singer Hannah Hooper—who reminds me of my oldest daughter, Jordan—endorsed marijuana use among the crowd, telling them to find her and smoke a joint with her after the show. Even more concerning was her headbanging during the set. Don’t get me wrong—the headbanging made for an energetic, great time … until I thought about the effect it no doubt has on her neck.

Luckily, I was able to inform Ms. Hooper about the dangers of whiplash a few hours later when I passed the band in the media tent. They were in a hurry, but she managed to shout “Thanks, Dad!” at me before laughing and disappearing with the rest of GROUPLOVE. It made me swell with pride that even though we had only met for a brief moment, she not only took my advice to heart, but also expressed the same familial connection that I felt while watching them perform. How cool is it that she reminds me of my daughter and I remind her of her father? Beaming, I went to grab another Kobe slider.

–Gunther Guthrie


Best/Worst/Only Imitation of Thurston Moore

Parquet Courts

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Parquet Courts significantly diversified their influences on this year’s Sunbathing Animal, so it’s no surprise they’ve added a dash of white noise (and even more snark!) to their live show. In his best Sonic Youth impression, co-frontman Austin Brown held the microphone up to his guitar in an attempt at some tuneful feedback. It was a valiant effort, but the mic just kind of dangled there like a dead worm on a fishing line, resulting in a squall that was somewhat lacking in power. The band quickly did away with the droning and launched into “Light Up Gold II” a few minutes later, proof that, live, they’ve still got a better hold on their older post-punk material than their more adventurous new songs.

–Dan Caffrey

Widest Range of Emotion

The aching vocals of Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck

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Photo by Nick Simonite

The sun was high and hot on Saturday for Phosphorescent, but frontman Matthew Houck, wearing his own band’s t-shirt and a bright pink trucker hat, was quick to command attention. All he had to do was project a couple yips and moans of his Southern-tinged voice, booming strong and ripped raw in equal measure, for the crowd to stop thinking about their sweating, just for a moment. Even the more preoccupied gaggles of teenage girls, who before his set had been sprinkling fistfuls of glitter into each other’s hair and preening in front of their iPhones, paused suddenly at the sound and let the melody move them.

Backed by an impressive mix of space-y, ambient noise, plinking keys and strong, driving guitar, Houck sailed from song to song, most of which came from 2013’s Muchacho, on an emotional teeter-totter that tipped from euphoric to shattered to rapturous again. For his biggest hit, the wrenching “Song for Zula”, he stripped off his guitar and let his vocals do the work, searing poignancy into already tender lines like “I saw love disfigure me” and tripping across the stage, back turned, as if overcome. But by the last song, he is renewed: all devil-may-care ebullience and whoops, building to a rip-roaring climax as he vertically raises his guitar over his head and brings it down to finish. In the afterglow, the glitter girls gape.

–Leah Pickett

Best Discovery/Navigation of 5″ Platform Shoes

Kate Nash

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

For all its too-crowded-bro-town crowd this year, Lollapalooza at least introduced this writer to Kate Nash. Yes, the talented, energetic, and afternoon-headliner-with-actual-reason-to-be-there Kate Nash. Worthy of a classic Farley double take, the singer came on stage with a bejeweled forehead, wearing a multi-colored cape and the gnarliest 4-5″ platform shoes. Following an enthusiastic hello, Nash shredded through an incredible set of riot grrrl punk rock. In fact, it was so authentic and stirring that I started wondering, Was she in a band with Kathleen Hanna or Courtney Love and I just missed it? I need to fix that. Of course, I looked her up then and there. No. She’s 26. She’s a new generation, and it’s fantastic.

After jumping up and down, running around the stage, high-fiving the crowd, and pulling an Iggy Pop by bringing roughly 20 audience members onstage with her (all while she wore those damn platform shoes with never a hint of a stumble), Nash finally closed her set with her hit single, “Merry Happy”. She sat at the keyboard — honestly, the first time she stopped moving at all –and played this beautiful, melodic sing-along with the crowd. She finished it off by jumping up and down on the keyboard, of course, but it was a refreshing ending to a monstrous set. Thank you, Kate Nash. Take care of your ankles in those shoes.

–Nick Freed

The “You Didn’t Play Half of Your Own Set But It Was Still a Blast” Show

Rich Homie Quan

Rich Homie Quan -- Will Rice

Photo by Will Rice

Rich Homie Quan‘s set started at 4:00 p.m. sharp on Saturday, an appropriate time slot for a rapper with one huge song and several middling ones, but he didn’t take the stage for the first 20 minutes of his 45-minute set, allowing his DJ to put on a mini-show of his own. Playing tracks from Young Thug, Migos, and Bobby Shmurda got the crowd hyped as hell, but it was just jarring to come to see RHQ and be met with 20 minutes of other songs that I like more than his. Maybe I’m just left with a sour taste in my mouth because my hat toss/shmoney dance combo wasn’t met with the dozens of offers to buy me a beer that I had expected.

–Pat Levy

The “Room to Grow” Show

Vic Mensa

8/2/14, 6:53:14 PM

Photo by Greg Noire

Listen, I know I hyped this show a lot. It was still really good, but I might have put more pressure on young Vic Mensa than he was prepared for. With only a mixtape and several singles under his solo act belt, Vic doesn’t have the largest library of songs to pull from, and it was clear which ones he was more comfortable with and which he was still struggling to get right. “Down on My Luck” will likely end up being the song of the year for me; I can’t stress how much I love it, but his performance was less than stellar, with the backing audio track doing most of the vocal work while Vic struggled to keep up. Starting with his newest single, “Feel That”, was smart because it’s still fresh, in Vic’s mind and ours, but it started the show off on a high note that it unfortunately couldn’t maintain. I have no doubt in my mind that the next time I see Mensa he’ll have all this shit on lock and have jumped into the Chance realm he’s currently gunning for.

–Pat Levy

Most Intimate Act from a Headliner

Jenny Lewis Goes Acoustic with “Acid Tongue”

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Photo by Max Herman

Beginning at the end of Spoon’s set, ending at the start of Outkast’s, Jenny Lewis‘ gathering at The Grove is sparse. However, the audience seems to prefer it that way, and maybe Jenny does a little bit, too. She peers out at us, making eye contact; did she just look at me?

“It’s pretty chill over here, I have to say,” Jenny observes with a smile, before launching into a magical cascade of her best solo work to date: the ever-catchy “Silver Linings”; the nine-minute ode to Barbra Streisand and the devil, “Next Messiah”; and a string of songs from her just-released album, The Voyager, including “Just One of the Guys”, “Head Underwater”, and the right-in-the-feels ditty “She’s Not Me”. Her voice is more beautiful than any of us could have imagined, loud and clear as a bell, carrying across the park like a beacon in the night.

Then, in a moment akin to Kumbaya (if you’ve seen young Jenny Lewis in the ’80s classic Troop Beverly Hills, then you know what I’m talking about), her band gathers ’round, arms over shoulders, and becomes a backing choir for “Acid Tongue”. As Jenny strums her guitar and sings out, “You know I’m a liar/ You know I’m a liar/ Nobody helps a liar,” the overwhelming feeling in The Grove is one of genuine connection, catharsis, even love. It feels as though she is looking right at us, singing right to us; and then we realize, she is.

–Leah Pickett

How About Them Accidental Fireworks?

OutKast

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Reviews of OutKast’s initial reunion shows earlier this summer were spotty, with several critics calling out the atypical stiffness of the duo, especially André 3000. Lucky for Lolla audiences, any sign of rigidity had disappeared—the two traded verses with impeccable enunciation, settled into liqueur-smooth choreography with their horn section, and bounced jokes off one another. “O-U-T…K-A-S-T”, sang André to the theme of The Mickey Mouse Club prior to set closer “The Whole World”, before quickly adding “Plus-a-bunch-of-other-letters-that-should-go-here.”

But the eclectic spectacle (eclectacle?) got an un-needed yet still welcome boost from a fireworks display in front of the Field Museum. While emerald-green shards erupted on the projection screen during Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon All-Stars banger “Kryptonite”, a golden palm tree rained down in the night sky. Likewise, “GhettoMusick” became even more hyperactive thanks to a cluster of red starbursts that seemed to explode in time with the music. We’re pretty sure the whole thing was an accident, but it was magical to see literal fireworks in the air match the metaphorical ones onstage.

–Dan Caffrey

Best Dance Party Not at Perry’s

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

When you think about it, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue are one of the most fitting festival bookings, even though it seems odd at first. Sure, Trombone Shorty’s brand of boisterous brass and New Orleans trad jazz might seem out of place in Lolla’s soup of EDM, rap, and rock, but his astonishingly confident performance was enough to win over everyone. As horn-heavy as the set was with tenor and alto sax players, Shorty, backed by his bassist, guitarist, and drummer, put on a rock show, playing the role of the last living rock star.

Throughout, Shorty played the part of the eminent showman, vigorously leading his band through songs like “Fire and Brimstone” and “Do to You”. Perhaps the best moment of the set was “Hurricane Season” off 2010’s Backatown. Not only is it a party starter with its exuberant “Heys!” and horn parts, but it showcases Shorty’s phenomenal trumpet skills. Using circular breathing, he was able to sustain a run for an exorbitant amount of time. After that, there were left-field covers of Lenny Kravitz’s “Sistamamalover” and Green Day’s “Brain Stew”, which were also crowd-pleasers.

–Josh Terry

Most Undeniable Chemistry

Run the Jewels

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

While watching Run the Jewels’ set on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the fundamental difference between these two immensely talented rappers and the other hip-hop duos around today, Saturday headliner Outkast in particular, dawned on me. While Big Boi and Andre 3000 did their individual sets in the middle of Outkast’s show, the non-dominant member would leave the stage to rest, letting the other do their own thing for the sake of some water and a place to sit. Run the Jewels do not fuck with this. Mixing songs from Killer Mike’s “R.A.P. Music” and El-P’s “Cancer 4 Cure” into the set of RTJ material, both rappers stayed front and center for the duration of the set, acting as hypemen for the other’s songs whenever they weren’t splitting the mic time. These two are tapping into something special, something we’re all lucky to be witnessing. Don’t be surprised when Run the Jewels are mentioned in the upper echelon of all time hip-hop groups in the near future.

–Pat Levy

Most Uplifting Set

Chromeo

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

It is difficult to name a duo more comfortably fun onstage than David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel. Chromeo’s third Lolla appearance not only lured shivering umbrella campers back into the downpour, but their Wicked Witch of the West intro and high-five crescendos also incited plenty of dancing across a soggy Grant Park field that slow cooked itself into complete mud soup. The Chicago Parks Services will have acres of grass to reseed in the next few weeks, and we know who the two main culprits are.

Bright renditions of “Bonafied Lovin’”, “Frequent Flyer”, and “Over Your Shoulder” culled a respite of sunshine back into the soggy afternoon, while “Needy Girl”, “Come Alive”, and “Sexy Socialite” had lip-smacking friends of Molly leaping to greet the inevitable change in weather and mood. Everyone was going to get wet anyway. At least we had the most optimistic soundtrack going while our smartphones, cigarettes, and shoes took a swim.

Macklovitch and Gemayel built a lasting momentum that reached back to the release of She’s in Control 10 years ago. Sunday’s show also proved they’ll be sticking around for another decade. 2014’s top summer anthem “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” carried everyone to a dazzling realm of positivity and love. It also cemented Chromeo’s legacy as a must-see live show for any festival, rain or shine.

–Dan Pfleegor

Best Synchronized Dancing and Most Upbeat Act

Betty Who Fights the Rain

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

After a few hours of the steady, unrelenting downpour, most of the crowd was just looking for some relief. Those who ducked under the trees at the BMI stage were greeted by Australian songstress Betty Who. Within minutes, our rain-soaked spirits were lifted back to the euphoric levels needed on Day Three. Who had enthusiasm and charisma that oozed off the nearby trees and a genuine joy unmatched by any artist all weekend. After a couple songs, she admitted, “I’m so excited to be playing for you amazing people. I must admit there are many more of you than I expected, so I’m a bit nervous. But we’re gonna have a great time!” It was the kind of endearing and real moment the waterlogged crowd needed. It also helped that Who’s band was tight, pitch-perfect, and had some fantastic synchronized dance steps that matched her dreamy electronic pop. Her bassist, keyboardist, and even her drummer all stepped and snapped like clockwork alongside Who. It was entertaining as hell and warranted a much bigger stage. Next time?

–Nick Freed

Most Irish Set

Glen Hansard

8/3/14, 5:39:01 PM

Photo by Will Rice

While a Friday afternoon set by rising hunky crooner Hozier serenaded tweens and Lollapalooza’s surprisingly large Irish contingent, it was Glen Hansard’s victorious Sunday evening show that really bled the green, orange, and white. For festivalgoers lucky enough to score a ticket to his after-show with The Districts, Hansard’s hour-long slot at the muddy Lake Shore stage was the third (and final) opportunity to see the Frames frontman and Once star. Where his Kidzapalooza set and after-show found him repping his home by covering Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks”, he ended his festival with a rousing sing-along cover of the Irish folk ballad “The Auld Triangle”.

Lately, Hansard has been experiencing one of the happiest stages of his career, enjoying comfortable success post-Once. He’s able to debut solo songs, bring out his band The Frames minus violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire this time (who was replaced by equally competent Rob Moose), and just radiate positive energy. Even though his set was one of the rainiest, Hansard was unfazed. In fact, he was energized by the downpour, beckoning the audience to let it wash over their faces, to put away the umbrellas, and just let it happen. Even though it was sometimes torrential, his stunning cover of Marvin Gaye’s (and The Band’s) “Don’t Do It” along with Frames standards the Herzog-referencing “Fitzcarraldo” and the anthemic “Revelate” made everyone forget about the water.

–Josh Terry

The Essential Festival Rockers

Cage the Elephant

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

Last time we were herethere was a torrential downpour,Cage the Elephant’s guitarist Brad Shultz admitted to the mud-stained crowd that swarmed the Samsung Galaxy Stage on Sunday afternoon. As expected, the weather was hardly a blunder for their stage show, as it’s become more of a necessity, fueling their ever fearless frontman’s aggressive stage-diving campaign. Want to meet Matt Schultz? Get to a Cage show early and you’ll likely catch him in your arms.

This is why Cage has to be one of the most aggressive and intimate rock acts at festivals year round. They explore the trust of their fan base on a consistent level, as exemplified by the number of stage dives accepted by audiences worldwide. A similar occasion happened the previous night uptown at The Vic, where during “Sabertooth”, the stage erupted into a mosh pit of friends and family — who all participated in the stage diving, too.

Write this down: Kentucky folk don’t fuck around.

–Phillip Roffman

Lollapalooza’s World Star Hip-Hop Moment

That Time a Fight Broke Out Near Flume

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

As the sun kissed the skyline and the evening shuffled into night, Flume’s Harley Edward Streten kept The Grove bright and cozy with selections off his 2012 self-titled debut. “Holdin’ On”, “Sintra”, “Insane”, and “On Top”, specifically. But on the outskirts of the stage — mind you, the stage is nestled between a circle of trees — three men ran after some hoopster, tackling him on to the ground while yelling what appeared to be a number of threatening obscenities. It all felt odd; why couldn’t these dudes just relax and embrace the Australian trip-hop at hand? Didn’t they like the Lorde remix, too? Wasn’t there enough of a groove to forget all the fighting? Few noticed what went down, admittedly, but I started thinking more about the situation: Maybe the hoopster said something nasty at their girlfriends? Perhaps he talked shit about Skrillex? What if he knew who killed JFK? These aren’t the sort of thoughts one should think about during a stunner like “Insane”, but that’s why my parents called me special, I guess. Wonder if anyone reported it to World Star? smh

–Michael Roffman

Best Country Dance Party

The Avett Brothers Start a Ruckus in the Mud

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Photo by Joshua Melin

The muddy throng gathered for the Avett Brothers are a dedicated bunch. Many of them are holding signs, and I make out a few: “Party from Tulsa” and “Avett Bros. Hometown Heroes.” The piano is covered in fan-made posters and artwork, too (“Avett Nation,” “We love you!”), and when the band emerges, first the drummer, then the sprightly strings section, then the eponymous brothers themselves, the thrill in the air is palpable. The country fans are here, and they are ready.

The hip-slapping “Satan Pulls the Strings” is a perfect opener, whipping the crowd into a frenzy that doesn’t let up, not even when the intermittent rain begins to pour just a few songs later. Of course, the deluge begins at the crest of “Down with the Shine” — “It’s in with the new, and out with the old/ Out goes the warm, and in comes the cold” — and peaks as dreamy Scott Avett takes the banjo to his knees. Their fast-singing, fast-playing energy is infectious; the front rows have either embraced their transformation into swamp people or no longer care.

–Leah Pickett

Best Stage

The Grove

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Note: This entry was written by 55-year-old guest reporter Gunther Guthrie.

Alright, so we already know how I feel about the Lake Shore Stage (see my write-up on CHVRCHES), and the Samsung Galaxy Stage—right across from Lake Shore—is no better. Bud Light is too big, the Palladia gets too hot because of the pavement, and Perry’s is, well, Perry’s (a.k.a. everything that’s wrong with today’s youth!). That leaves The Grove. I didn’t know many of the bands that played there, but it’s definitely where I spent most of my weekend, other than the patio chairs in the press area, of course. The audience area is on a bit of an incline, so you have a decent view from pretty much everywhere you go. And true to its name, there are trees everywhere, which gives you ample protection from the sun and the rain—a plus when some bulldog of a security guard forced you to throw away your spray-bottle of sunscreen at the entrance. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m still pissed about that — but I digress. Bottom line: Any time I wanted to read my John Hershey novel in the shade while listening to some tunes, The Grove was the place to be. Trust me, you haven’t lived until listening to Jenny Lewis while finishing the final chapter of A Bell for Adano!.

–Gunther Guthrie

Biggest Missed Collaboration Opportunities

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Photo by Jack Edinger

Lollapalooza brings so many artists together in one place. It’s so easy for like-minded people to meet and talk music, and with that comes so many chances for collaboration and guest spots in sets, especially with people who have already worked together. Sure, there was the guest spot from Rihanna with Eminem, but why didn’t we see Killer Mike join OutKast? Killer Mike was performing Day Three with El-P and Run the Jewels, so he was totally available to jump onstage for “The Whole World”. Of course, with Outkast seeming like they were just going through the motions, it makes sense they didn’t want to change the script.

Same can be said for Big Boi possibly joining Phantogram during their set. He couldn’t step in on a Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors track? Even if it’s just one track, that can take a set to the next level. Especially with Phantogram going up against Eminem and Calvin Harris.

The final big collab could’ve come on Day Three with Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino. The rappers worked together recently on tracks and just announced a full EP together. Come on, Gambino. Can’t share the spotlight enough to give us all a sneak peek at the new tracks? Perhaps you could’ve help save Chance the embarrassment of having to bring out R. Kelly instead. Missed Chance indeed.

–Nick Freed

Harshest Death Disco Since Opening Scene From Blade

Ethan Kath

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Crystal Castles founder Ethan Kath was a late, surprise addition to Lollapalooza’s crowded Sunday lineup. His solo crusade atop Palladia was also the perfect apéritif of paranoid tension before Skrillex’s buoyant dubstep digestif. Kath’s programming threw battery acid in the face of mainstay EDM. It harkened to dirty days of contemptuous cyberpunk nihilism and K-holes. He engaged his decks with the fervor of a rogue cold war general launching a sneak assault on post-industrial contemporaries. This was terra incognita, uncharted and dire. Revelers were not sure where this trail began, nor whom they would be when the attack was over.

–Dan Pfleegor

Best Signage

Toothless Gosling

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Photo by Michael Roffman

Every festival has its share of homemade signs — especially Sprawlapalooza. This year, The Office‘s Dwight, Michael Scott, and Kevin danced amidst the crowds, a Hasselhoff head popped up every so often, and one of Monty Python’s knights who say Ni really dug Nas. None, however, could hold a candle to the strange enigma that was … Toothless Gosling. It’s a simple construct, really: Take the smiling Drive star and remove his teeth. But why? That’s a question I’m hoping thousands of people asked themselves repeatedly all weekend, doomed to never find an answer, even if they tried to hunt the person down for one. Hey, I never did, and it’ll forever be one of those “If it weren’t for my horse…” thought trails that’ll haunt me until the day I check out. Food for thought: Should we make #ToothlessGosling a thing? No? Any takers? Rats.

–Michael Roffman

Best Signage: A Second Thought

Prison Mike

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

Not only did someone create a Michael Scott sign, but they went for Prison Mike — arguably one of Steve Carrell’s finest moments as an actor. Even better, they captured Prison Mike’s best mug. We might have to make this a draw. What do you think?

–Michael Roffman

Best Use of Strings/Worst Use of Projections

Kings of Leon

First thing’s first: “Supersoaker” opened Kings of Leon’s set with what can best be described as Gatorade jizz. As the Followills chugged through their back-to-bar-rock hit, streams of neon blue and yellow liquid shot over their heads on the giant projection screens behind them. We don’t want to know what off-screen places the fluid came from or where it went to, but the whole thing looked a little gross. Then again, “Supersoaker” might be an analogy for Caleb Followill’s dick, so perhaps the imagery was appropriate. Things felt equally sleazy during “Family Tree” when Jared Followill’s slinky bass line was accompanied by a zoom-in on a cheap motel sign, making it all feel like the opening of Silk Stockings.

But what’s important is that the Kings played well, or at least solidly, depending on your opinion of the band. The licks were serviceable, the mixing even, the stage banter gracious. Then came a mid-set dash of elegance with the addition of a string section, who added even more yearning to “Comeback Story”, “Milk”, “Knocked Up”, and encore opener “Crawl”. So often orchestral flourishes steamroll the simple arrangements of a rock band, but KoL showed remarkable taste and restraint—something not often seen at a festival that’s quickly becoming an exercise in maximalism.

–Dan Caffrey

Greatest Transition

Skrillex into Darkside

darkside Lollapalooza 2014: Top 40 Moments + Photos

Photo by Michael Roffman

Eight-bit explosions, loud thuds, screaming — what is this? Skrillex. Bud Light Stage. Hell. I walk faster towards The Grove, where I escape into Darkside just as smoke and two single lights turn Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington into silhouettes. Slices of guitar, puddles of electronic ambiance, and hypnotic strobes feel straight out of David Lynch’s tapestries — think: Lost Highway on Lean — offering a door into Lollapalooza’s Twilight Zone. All night, Jaar and Harrington face each other, working kinetically while they tease their followers with paranoid climbs that extend to the point of insanity, when weak minds might scream at its owners, When can we get out?!

So yeah, it gets a little deep in there.

But the real genius behind Darkside is that they’ve blurred the lines between so many genres. Art house alternative, experimental, electronic, or jam band — take your pick. They do it all, and they do it best, and none of it sounds pre-meditated. Sure, “The Only Shrine I’ve Seen” and “Paper Trails” have traces of their studio counterparts, but the former’s injected with an arsenal of dub that hurdles everyone into the air, while the latter becomes an extended composition that takes its time in gliding everyone’s heads over an ocean’s surface. It’s the rare cooldown that keeps the heart pacing and the nerves at ease.

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Photo by Reagan Hackleman

It’s a strange concoction of Nick Cave, Suicide, ’90s Gabriel, Animals-era Floyd, and the very best of Tangerine Dream. Speaking of which, maybe it was just me, but I could have sworn Harrington was riffing on their Thief soundtrack (specifically, “The Heist”) during “Paper Trails” — perhaps as an ode to Chicago? Wishful thinking most likely, but I honestly wouldn’t put it past them. They’re inventive enough and their show is dynamic enough to allow little Easter eggs like this. And as Philip Cosores insisted upon this past weekend, those little differences turn acts from good to great in the long run.

–Michael Roffman

The “Kanye Is International, I’m the New King of Chicago” Set

Chance the Rapper

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Photo by Heather Kaplan

Chance’s headlining set Sunday night was widely discussed before it even happened, with plenty of festivalgoers wondering what the hometown hero would do with his time at Perry’s, and Chance was sure not to disappoint. The way he commands the stage is totally in line with how a headliner should, keeping the crowd involved throughout and maintaining a high level of energy from start to finish. While bringing out R. Kelly is a move that no doubt will please the major demographics at Lollapalooza, at this point it has roughly as much prestige as bringing out Sharkula. While it’s admittedly difficult not to start shmoney dancing when “Ignition (Remix)” comes on, it was Chance bringing out fellow SaveMoney mate Vic Mensa that really felt like a Windy City triumph. Two young rappers with impressive and growing catalogs coming together to pay homage to the city they call home, the city that gave them the platform to get where they are today. With Kanye now existing in a realm of mostly Paris trips and appearances on the E! Network, Chicago is Chance’s for the taking, and his show Sunday evening proved that he’s more than up to the task.

–Pat Levy

Best Representation of the Zombie Apocalypse

Lollapalooza, 11 p.m.

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

Picture it: a vast, garbage-strewn wasteland. Young people, many of them teenagers, stumble about, groping for signs of life. Bodies are covered in dirt, flower crowns askew. They move in packs, pulling more bodies by the hand or by the waist, forming human chains. They shriek when their cell phones run out of battery; shriek when they slip and fall in the mud; shriek when they are lost, shriek when they are found. There’s lots of shrieking. There’s also hugging, kissing, petting, crying, skipping, falling, rapping, singing, dancing, smoking, littering, loitering, tripping, running, and vomiting. The vomiting is usually projectile.

The beginning of the zombie apocalypse, or closing time at Lollapalooza? Hard to tell.

–Leah Pickett


Gallery

Photographers: Heather Kaplan, Joshua Mellin

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