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Lollapalooza Mon Aug 08 2011
If you hear anything about Lollapalooza on Sunday, I'm sure it will be that it
rained..twice..hard. But the true brilliance of the rain, was the ingenuity of
Lollapalooza goers to adapt to the torrential downpour. From stacking tables on
top of each other to rooting up fencing to take shelter, fans everywhere seemed
to construct make shift forts to wait out the rains. And after the rain abated, fans
rallied, soaked but ready to take in the last day of Lolla. When the second wave
of storms hit in the middle of Foo Fighters, the field was a mud pit but fans rocked
away with impressive dedication. -Niki Fritz
Noah and the Whale and City and Colour conveniently played back to back sets at the Bud and Sony stages. First the British indie folk band started the afternoon with
its upbeat and almost poppy music. With the help of an enthusiastic crowd, lead
vocalist Charlie Fink sang the group's newest hits while fiddler Tom Hobden often
stole the show with his fiddle mastery. With the finish of Noah and the Whale's set
the crowd instinctually flowed over to City and Colour, where the Canadian indie
band started jamming within seconds of Noah's end. City and Colour's cool lyrics
and smooth sounds captivated an already sweating audience. -Niki Fritz
The Cars are one of those bands that greatly shaped my music taste and education, so of course checking them out was a priority. I remember buying their debut album at a used music exchange, mainly because the cover looked cool, and instantly being hooked on Ric Ocasek vocals and pop hooks. It was no surprise when my teenage brain put together the fact he helped produce some of my favorite bands at the time (Weezer, No Doubt), that everything in music is usually tied together by influence, and if you love Weezer's blue album, you'll love The Cars. The band took the stage and cranked out hit after hit, despite the fact they looked a bit tired and past their prime. Given the fact everyone in the band are in their late 50s/early 60s, they get a pass for not being the most energetic band at Lollapalooza. And their impact on pop music was evident when the crowd sung along to "Just What I Needed" like it was a current radio hit. Personally I loved hearing one of my favorites, "Moving in Stereo" live, the thumping guitar line slinking across the field. Their sonically flawless set just solidified why The Cars are such an important part of the foundation of pop music.
American songstress Lissie filled the not-yet-mud-filled Google+ stage on Sunday
afternoon with a wide array of fans, from folks lounging in the grass to escape
the heat to young fans singing along in the front. Her music and look is mildly
reminiscent of Jewel in the good ole days, with more rock attitude and the ability to
drop the f bomb convincingly. She mixed a country vibe with some intense guitar
rifts and hand made lyrics for an enjoyable set. -Niki Fritz
There wasn't a more fitting band to play after the first massive downpour of the day hit Lollapalooza than Arctic Monkeys, who kicked of their slightly shortened set with their perfectly titled "She's Thunderstorms." Despite the torrential rain, the worse since Lolla has set up home in Chicago, the band had the massive muddy crowd pumping their fist along to their punk tinged Brit rock sound. The crowd was in good spirits as the band played a tight and solid set of their best work, including stand out tracks "I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor," "When the Sun Goes Down," "Still Take You Home," and "Crying Lightning," another wonderful post rain song. The Arctic Monkeys were the perfect band to rally the troops and raise the spirits of the rain soaked crowd who still had a few hours of Lolla to go.
I have to be honest in the fact that I didn't actually see Explosions in the Sky, but heard their cinematic instrumental rock lazily floating across the field. The entire south field was full of people and you couldn't even walk down the steps, so myself and a few other writers chose to stake out a spot on the hill behind the media tent where we could see a clear view of the Foo Fighters stage. Explosions in the Sky sounded lovely, a perfect soundtrack for the sunset over the park. Their music was full of rich layers, dense in sound, and reminded me of Broken Social Scene's Lolla set during the same slot back in 2006. The sky had cleared (for the time being, unbeknownst to me), people were starting to dry off, and as the last rays of sun peeked through, Explosions in the Sky left a trail of shimmering cymbal crash and heavy guitar reverb across the field.
Everything looked back to normal for Foo Fighters headlining set, the crowd pumped and the sky had seemed to dry up as Dave Grohl burst onto the stage and kicked things off with "Bridge Burning" before pounding right through "Rope." All of a sudden I felt a few drops of rain on me, nothing but sprinkles, and then in a matter of seconds the sky opened up and another intense downpour began. My umbrella was little help, people around me grabbed chairs and boxes to cover themselves, but it was no use. We were all soaking wet, and at that point you can either embrace the situation or bail. Grohl, the majority of the packed field and the dozen or so media members around me chose to stay, as the Foo Fighters launched into the epic ballad "My Hero." It was one of the most memorable music moments I've ever had, and will probably go down as one of the best live songs I've ever seen. The entire crowd sung along in solidarity as Grohl encouraged everyone to make the best of it and have fun. Even the usually sedated media area sung along, as we clung to each other like drowned rats under makeshift shelter. The entire field was in this together, a fight against mother nature that we didn't lose Sunday night. It was breathtaking watching an entire sea of people, fist raised in the air, their voices carrying loud and clear across the storm.
It continued to rain for a little while longer, finally clearing up as Grohl and company churned out a visceral bare boned set. Nothing fancy, just fast and intense rock 'n' roll. On tracks like "Breakout" and "Stacked Actors" the pure raw energy that the band produces was palpable across the field, myself included. I actually headbanged along, something I haven't done at a live show in a very long time. The Foo Fighters music has that epic feeling of "fuck it," to just have fun and be a fan, the most basic enjoyment of music. And when you are soaked to the bone, jumping around with good friends and screaming along to "The Pretender," nothing else really matters. And life and music, at least for that moment, is pretty perfect and wonderful.