Lollapalooza 2012: A Rain-Soaked Saturday

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 5, 2012 5:00PM

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"Yeah, Mud BITCHES!" Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul takes photos of muddy concert-goers reentering Grant Park for Lollapalooza. (Samantha Abernethy/Chicagoist)

Saturday at Lollapalooza kicked off bright and sunny and very, very hot. We were there as the gates opened so were privy to the mad dash of a handful of fans rushing to be the very first ones in front of the stage. It was the kind of unrestrained enthusiasm that helps you remember just how powerful music can be. Unfortunately they had no idea that front row seat was going to prove useless in a few hours. Saturday was truly one of the more memorable days we experienced at Lollapalooza; it’s just too bad it wasn’t the music that made it that way. - Tankboy / Jim Kopeny

Early on the Kidz stage Saturday were the local quartet Purple Apple. This group of high school girls (and a former babysitter on drums) have already got six years and a songwriting deal with Sony ATV under their belt. And for good reason. These aren’t Disney channel pop songs, this is real rock and roll, and the girls have the stage chops to go along with it. They’re all honestly beautiful (I think we’ll be allowed to call them hot in a couple more years), and hold their own with the confidence of a woman twice their age. To say they show promise is an understatement, as they’ve already got a solid album and EP to their name. They’ve got talent, and we can’t wait to see where they take it. - Michelle Meywes

We've caught Jeff the Brotherhood ("of the traveling jorts..." seriously, what's up with the short jorts?), a couple of times before and they never disappoint. However, we often found ourselves wishing Jake and Jamin Orrall would move around a little more instead of standing still while perfectly executing their brand of gritty garage rock. The dormant mother in me desperately wants to tell Jake Orrall to maybe push his hair off his face and stand up straight. This time, though, Jake Orrall brought more banter and a lot more movement. He even jumped off the stage into the photo pit to rock the first row's faces off. Perhaps it's because, as Jake pointed out, this is a lot more people than they usually play for. We're happy to see the Nashville duo coming into their own. - Samantha Abernethy

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The Givers. (Image Via Youtube screen grab)

We checked out Givers, hoping for more sugary pop songs like the infectious summer jam "Up, up, up". That's pretty much what we got, although their playing seemed a bit sloppy at times. Singer/guitarist Taylor Guarisco apologized for technical difficulties toward the end of the set, saying, "Everything, all of the instruments, are vibrating away from us." Despite that, it was still super fun, and we were bopping along. Plus, we have to give them credit for the best (only?) successful use of flute outside of orchestras and "Aqualung." - Samantha Abernethy

The sharply dressed Aloe Blacc took the Red Bull stage with a horn introduction at what felt like the hottest point of the day. Tall, dark, and handsome in a suit jacket and white news cap, he got down to business with a “feel good” soul song. With local group JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound getting things started at the Sony stage at the beginning of the day, the south end of the park was soul central. Both had crowds dancing despite the heat, and Blacc even asked for the crowd in front of the stage to get some Soul Train lines going after his more mellow jam, “You Make Me Smile.” Energy was high for his whole set, but the big finale came with his big hit, “I Need A Dollar.” He stretched the song out for almost 10 minutes and broke into a reggae jam at the end that slid into guitar rock and a freestyle rap where he called out Wall Street and had the crowd singing along “the rich get rich and the poor get poor.” - Michelle Meywes

I should have noticed something was amiss when the backstage bar was suddenly closed down with no explanation but I decided to head off the festival campus to pick up some supplies for the remainder of the day at that point. I made it a few blocks away when I got a phone call from Michelle Meywes informing me the grounds were being evacuated but no one knew why. (It took awhile for an official announcement to be made.) I stopped some Chicago Police Officers on the street and discovered they were just as surprised as I and had no idea what was going on either. - Tankboy

Down came the rain and washed the Lollers out...

“Aren’t you guys evacuating with everyone else?”

When the evacuation happened, we had the benefit of being ahead of the curve. We were outside the gates before an official announcement was made and, looking back, we're not sure how we would've fared otherwise.

Michelle and Sam met up in the media lounge to grab a bottle of water between bands. As we sat down to collect ourselves before venturing back out, some guy came over and asked why we weren't evacuating. We had no clue what he was talking about. Then a security guard came over and said we had to leave because severe weather was coming. We thought he meant just the press area, but then another guard told us to leave the park and go to a parking garage under Michigan Avenue. As we walked past Perry's stage, no one was moving. A decent number of people were on their way out, but most people were just milling about.

They had the extra nighttime exit gates open, and we got through the gates by Perry's Stage right as they made the official announcement on the loudspeaker. For us, it was somewhat easy because we got a head start and were well ahead of the masses, but there was a lot of confusion. People were just crossing Michigan Ave., and the cars were honking. People were lost and confused, and no one was quite sure what was happening. We just headed north.

Then the Lollapalooza iPhone app sent out two alerts, so we had the official evacuation locations. Since they didn’t announce those locations over the loudspeaker, we’re not sure how anyone would have known where those were if they didn't have the iPhone app, or didn’t have cell service. Furthermore, if we were in from out of town, we don't think an address would get us where we needed to be. It doesn’t seem that they took into account how many people aren't from around here and don't know their way around.

We, like a lot of people, rode out the worst of the storm in a bar. As we journeyed north on Michigan Ave, we didn’t see one person going down any of the many stairwells to the underground garages. We did hear a lot of chatter around us of different bar names, so we’re guessing that many of those people spent those two hours drinking…and returned to the festival drunker than if they had stayed!

When we returned to the festival grounds at 6 p.m., we came in the north end, and security was lax. They didn't check bags on return, and they abandoned the wristband scanners. Security guards checked for armbands and tried to get us away from the door as quickly as possible. While Jim and Michelle headed to Fun., I rushed to the Bud Light stage hoping Alabama Shakes would start. I saw people scooping buckets of water from the canvas on top of the stage, and it was obvious no music would be played there soon, although a lot of people were already lined up around the stage.

I took off for the press area to find out more information on the schedule changes. I found out through Twitter that Alabama Shakes and a few other bands—the Dunwells, the Verve Pipe, the Temper Trap and B.o.B.— had been canceled in the schedule shuffle. I left to track down Jim and Michelle at Fun., and unfortunately walked up just in time for their big summer hit "We Are Young." We say unfortunately because as soon as it started, every person nearby stormed toward the stage singing at the top of their lungs. The crowd spilled beyond the stage, through the trees and into the street and Chow Town. Clearly the band should've been on a bigger stage.

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People evacuating the park. shellster129

As reports that Lollapalooza employees were being called back to their post around 5:25 p.m., we cautiously started heading back to the festival grounds. To Lollapalooza’s credit we were expecting absolute madness as close to 100,000 people tried to make their way back in, but making it through the double line of security was surprisingly hassle free. And at first we thought that was just because most people had gone home, but the crowd in the field for the headliners a few hours later proved that the majority of people did make their way back in. There was mass confusion over where to go though, since no one knew what bands had been canceled or what bands had been rescheduled. I made an educated guess that Fun., based on the ubiquity of their single “We Are Young,” would be among the bands spared cancellation, so we headed over to the Google Play stage to discover we were right. Still, no one knew when they would go on or anything about the schedule beyond that so we just hunkered down and waited.

I saw Fun. at Schubas a few years ago when they were touring behind their debut and then they were an earnest and impassioned band. The group we saw yesterday was certainly still impassioned, but they’ve definitely adopted a pop showmanship absent from their previous incarnation. What we couldn’t tell is if this was an honest or calculated stance by the band, in an attempt to grab the brass ring, but given how much love the crowd was showing the band I’m not sure my opinion matters on that point, at least not in the context of a festival set review. And, to be honest, watching the response to “We Are Young,” including people just walking by launching into a sing-along, sent chills down our back. Not every band gets the chance to become a pop cultural touchstone that provides real emotional resonance with people, so we’re willing to stay along for the ride with Fun. - Tankboy / Jim Kopeny

Hearing Kele Okereke’s distinctive vocals from across the south field had us quickly gathering up our things and heading into to the soggy mud pit that Butler Field had become. Bloc Party took the stage about 10 minutes earlier than their updated schedule time, where we discovered the Sony video screen had fallen victim to the storm. The UK indie band was as solid as ever though, despite the delay. "From the old classics to the new classics,” Kele said before launching into a new song from the upcoming album, Four. The group finally has a new one coming out later this year after three years of silence (and a Kele solo project). We have high hopes for this one since not much has lived up to the spark they had on their 2004 debut, Silent Alarm. Their set contained all the hits, though, from “Modern Love” to “Banquet” and a big closing with “Helicopter.” - Michelle Meywes

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Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis. (Image via Youtube screen grab.)

At the appointed hour the south end of the field filled with people, many of whom didn’t care one whit that they were standing ankle deep in mud, as they jostled shoulder to shoulder in anticipation of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. We stuck around for the first few songs, but having seen the band just a few years before at Lollapalooza we realized that we weren’t witnessing a musical moment, we were in the midst of an expert piece of theater performed by professionals that are really good at their job. I don’t doubt that the band believes in what it does, and I’m on record saying that I truly enjoy their music, but this particular show didn’t elevate me to some higher plane. So instead I wandered over to catch Santigold’s set, but her performance was hindered by an extremely delayed start time so we just decided to take advantage of a chance to exit the park ahead of the muddy masses and resume our festival experience in the morning. - Tankboy / Jim Kopeny