I got busy this weekend between covering Outside Lands and the Phish setlists coming in from Alpine, and in the meantime, our friend Jimmy Coulas from Scents & Subtle Sounds finished his coverage from last weekend’s Lollapalooza music festival. Word is that Jimmy is launching a redesigned blog in the next few days, so he’s been busy. Read on for his final thoughts from the festival, and stay tuned for more contributions from our buddies across the country in the very near future. We’re opening this bitch up.
I caught Mumford & Sons at the Lincoln Hall show a few months ago and was blown away by their performance, so I was excited to see that they were playing Lollapalooza. Their debut album Sigh No More is a strong mix of ballads and foot stomping folk rock. The band’s set at the Playstation stage was strongly attended and the London quartet was in fine form. Lead singer/guitarist Marcus Mumford ditched his guitar and hopped on a drum kit for a rousing version of “Lover of Light.” The boys from London finished off their spirited set with a rocking version of “Dustbowl Dance.” Good stuff.
Past that, I was very curious to see how the psychedelic sound of MGMT would translate on the big stage. The band didn’t waste any time in breaking out new material from their fantastic sophomore effort Congratulations. “Brian Eno” is not only a great tune, but an obvious nod to one of the bands heroes. The first great moment of the set came as “Electric Feel” turned the sizable crowd into one big dance party. The band rounded out the set with a mix of tunes off the album that most people responded more positively to, Oracular Spectacular. The one-two punch of “Kids” & “Congratulations” put the finishing touches on a fine set of music.
And for me, Soundgarden brought a triumphant closing set to a perfect encore to a great weekend of music in Chicago. The band came out with guns blazing and delivered a dose of sludge rock that we haven’t seen since grunge ruled the mid 90’s. The band played a career spanning set that saw them delve deep into their catalog. But songs like “Spoonman,” “Blowup the Outside World,” and “Black Hole Sun” took the audience on a trip back in time. The highlight of their set for me was an unbelievable version of “Outshined”, which gave me goose bumps as the band destroyed the classic tune. As the band walked off stage and let feedback end the final song, “Slaves & Bulldozers,” Soundgarden had proved that this 90’s version of rock ‘n roll potentially isn’t dead.
The saying that “bigger is better” doesn’t always hold to be true, but this years Lollapalooza proved to be an exception to the rule. Perhaps the biggest and best change as far as logistics go was the decision to close Columbus Drive. This opened up what turned out to be an express lane for fans to get from one end of the park to another in a much easier fashion than years past.
Not only were fans given more space to roam and a really great lineup, but the food selection was out of this world. The two Chow Towns afforded fans a little taste of the culinary delights of Chicago. My personal favorite was the Pork Belly Tostada from the Wicker Park hot spot Big Star.
With five years under the belt in Chicago, Lollapalooza has become well oiled machine. Each year the organizers have found a way to make it better and this year proved to be no different. Of course, there will always be gripes about the crowds, but maybe a third entrance will be added to help ease some of the people traffic.
Let’s hope that next years Lollapalooza isn’t necessarily “bigger,” but more importantly better. I had a great experience this year and I’m sure Perry Farrell and company have already started planning for next year…