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Lollapalooza Tue Aug 07 2012
The last day of Lollapalooza crept up on me, even with the dehydration, sore feet and sunburn. I spent the last day trying to fit in as much of the festival that I had previously missed as possible. Video games in the Playstation Lounge. Crazy dance party in the air conditioned Sony Tent. Grilled cheese on a stick in the Farmer's Market. The line-up on Sunday had more acts I wanted to catch than any other day but there's also loads of non-musical stuff to enjoy around Grant Park over the weekend, so I made sure to take in as much of the festival as possible to get the most out of my Lolla experience.
As I saw mud people roaming the festival on Saturday I wondered where the mud was actually coming from, as every stage I went to had somewhat squishy but mostly dry ground. Well, I ended up finding the mud Sunday afternoon. Apparently all of the mud ended up at the Red Bull Soundstage, accompanied by a distinct stench. I've been a fan of Icelandic band Sigur Rós for about a decade now but for some reason had never seen them live before Sunday. I'd been a bit worried that the combination of their afternoon time slot, the mud and the smell would mar their set for me, but once they hit the stage all was forgotten and I was lost in their gorgeous music. They really do deserve to be enjoyed at night, with a dark sky and skyline lights behind them, and I wish their set was at least a couple hours later than their early 4:00 pm slot.
Somehow At the Drive-In does not feel like a nostalgia act, even though this reunited band's last album came out over a decade ago. Referring to themselves as the "Latin Danzig", the band performed one of the most energetic sets of the weekend. There was a hardly a moment where frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala wasn't jumping in the air or running about the stage. During their hour-long set the band suffered from a few technical difficulties, but were saved by a little stand-up from Cedric, most notably a tirade against Skele-Toes shoes. I could have watched this band for hours, and all I could do was think of how much I regret not seeing them the first time around.
Sunday night held the biggest schedule conflict for me for the entire weekend. Unfortunately three of the acts I most wanted to see at Lolla ended up playing at the same time: Jack White, Justice, and Childish Gambino. This may be an unpopular choice, but I've already seen Jack White and Justice live countless times, so I opted for Childish Gambino. The fact that he was performing at the smallest of the three stages was an added bonus. The stage was packed and I had somehow ended up near the front, but decided that it was too hot up there and ended up moving back to the trees, where the crowd was more spaced out. I am officially an old person, but it ended up turning out in my favor because I could see a lot more of the stage from back there and I had significantly more room to jump around.
This was the set I'd been waiting for all weekend. Of course, I'm sure many were there due to Donald Glover's "Community" fame, but what really makes this guy so endearing and relevant to his typical twentysomething fan are his hyper-specific pop culture references. He opened his set with "Outside", the first track off his debut album Camp, which starts off with a reference to Land Before Time puppet toys from Pizza Hut (a staple of my childhood). It's no wonder the entire crowd screamed the lyrics to every one of his songs, even knowing every word to tracks from the just-released mix tape Royalty (By the way, the last track of the mix tape includes Tina Fey rapping. You should get on that immediately.) Childish Gambino has been in the entertainment industry for some time now, and he knows how to put on a show. The show even included a "Rolling in the Deep" sing-along. This was one of the best sets of the weekend.
While many may remember Lollapalooza 2012 for the rain, wind, and ultimate evacuation, there were plenty musical moments that will stand out in my memory: Black Sabbath against the skyline Friday night, Die Antwoord's crazy costume changes and crowd-hyping, Santigold pulling the audience on-stage for a dance party, and laying on the lawn listening to The Shins are just a few stand-outs. Despite the elements, it was an enjoyable weekend.