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Lollapalooza 2015 Day Two: A Raucous Ruckus

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 2, 2015 6:30PM

There were warnings it might rain, and fears the day could grow oppressively hot, but neither of those things actually happened. Usually Saturday at Lollapalooza is marked as the day when things truly get out of hand, but outside a bit of a ruckus at Perry’s Stage early in the day, that never quite happened either. We also kind of expected the die-hard Metallica fans to potentially mar the day, as Rage Against The Machines fans had a few years ago, trailing aggro attitudes through the park, but Metallica fans are older, mellower and wiser. They came to rock, but they wanted you to rock too. This all came together to create what might have been the most pleasant of Lolla Saturdays this writer has ever experienced. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

2:23 p.m. I decided to head on over to the BMI stage and check out Coin, a new act with which I'm not very familiar. They've got a lot of energy on stage to match their dance-pop tunes. I'm not sure their "aw shucks, thanks for liking us," routine is really working, and there's something horribly wrong with the bass tones. It's distorted and sludgy and it doesn't work with these bright, bouncy tunes. Is it some kind of technical glitch? It sounds like a dance party in a mud pit. —Casey Moffitt

2:31 p.m. A girl on our train has informed everyone that she’s wearing a diaper, so we’re all good. I don’t know what she means, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean we’re actually all good. but I am looking forward to the day only getting weirder from here on. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

2:42 p.m. I'm passing the Palladium Stage and catching the last song by The Givers, "Record High, Record Low." This is probably the territory where Coin wants to stake a claim. But The Givers have it all together. These tones are gorgeous, the band is playing on point and singer Tiffany Lamson is nailing it. It really shows me how much work Coin has in front of them. —Casey Moffitt

2:45 p.m. I've got to catch Sturgill Simpson's set. I'm in the mood for a little old-school honky tonk right now. It's taking off like a steam engine leaving the station. Simpson's got a really nice voice and the band is chugging along behind him. So far it's a smooth ride, and I'm buckled up looking forward to the ride. —Casey Moffitt

2:53 p.m. The headline reads: Rapper Travis Scott arrested after encouraging fans to jump barricades at show.

Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
We walk into the fest to the sound of Travis Scott yelling at security to back off and “not touch him.” Bad move, Scott. Word is he showed up 30 minutes late for his 45-minute set and immediately encouraged the crowd to jump the rails at Perry’s stage. By the time we got within sight, the stage was lined with bouncers in black and S3 security clad in green shirts. We saw one girl get yanked out of the pit in front of the stage and get carried off flailing as she fought security. Nothing like starting your day with a little disorderly conduct.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

3 p.m. Like Tove Lo, who appeared yesterday during the same time slot and on the same stage, Charli XCX has already proven her songwriting chops. But unlike Lo at this point, Charli XCX clearly already has the “it” factor that will vault her into mainstream stardom. What Charli XCX lacks is the focus to clearly direct all the rumbling energy of her live performance. Instead she relies on props—like an unfortunate inflatable guitar that made a pre-planned appearance early in the set—and staged interactions with her backing bands that clearly carry from one set to the next. But when she lets loose and goes natural, allowing her clear talent to bubble forth without impediment, the effect is stunning. She trotted out much of last year’s Sucker, an album we picked as one of the best of 2014 and still stand behind, alongside renditions of other hits she’s helped write and sing on, including Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” which, ironically, was a tighter and more energetic version than Icona Pop performed on this same stage a few years ago. We’re told Charli XCX will be DJing at the Samsung Galaxy side stage later on so I rearrange my schedule and plan on taking that in as well. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

3:15 p.m. Sturgill Simpson's lead guitar player, Laur "Little Joe" Joamets, is on fire. He is burning up the fretboard with wild solos that are bewildering. He's nimble, he's fast, but he's in complete control of his instrument with some really fun phrasing. His bright, clean tones cut through the rest of the band. I could listen to this guy play guitar all day. —Casey Moffitt

3:37 p.m. Sturgill Simpson's five-piece band is hitting all the right notes. Each member has found great tones that all work really well together. They sound great. I'm willing to bet I won't find a more talented collection of musicians than this act for the rest of the day. Maybe even the rest of the weekend. —Casey Moffitt

3:38 p.m. There’s a rumor that Metallica is going to join “special guest” Perry Farrell on the kids stage, so of course we go to check it out. When we get there, the young band The Helmets is finishing up their set with a killer Zeppelin cover. Dare I say vocalist Bryan Ferretti has the chops to one day challenge Robert Plant? And props to the girl on bass rocking the Suicidal Tendencies t-shirt. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

3:39 p.m. The Helmets are seriously giving Zep a run for their money. Singer Bryan Ferretti, the eldest member of the band at the ripe old age of 11, delivers perfectly and bass player Tye Trujillo is locked in with drummer Bastian Evans allowing guitarist Kai Neukermans to wail over the whole thing. Wait, we just realized Trujillo shares the same last name as Metallica’s bass player …. which might explain why the crowd is thick with folks sporting All Access Metallica passes. And why she’s sporting a Suicidal Tendencies t-shirt. It’s a family affair! But there’s no nepotism at play here,—the band is actually really great. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Perry Farrell, Robert Trujillo, and friends, photo by Jim Kopeny /Tankboy

3:57 p.m. Perry Farrell has taken the Kidzapalooza stage with a band of teenagers and a few adults, including Metallica’s Robert Trujillo on bass. They play two Jane’s Addiction songs during their short set—”Ocean Size” and “Mountain Song.” And I’m not even going to pretend it wasn’t kind of awesome, or that I will ever get tired of hearing Perry sing Jane’s songs. What is surprising is this is my first Perry Farrell sighting of the weekend. Usually I’ve seen him a dozen times by this point. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

4:04 p.m. It wouldn’t be Lollapalooza without a sing-song story about something intangible from founder Perry Farrell. This time around he tells us how cool it is that we bring our families to share the festival. “I like to take my family on vacation,” he says. Sometimes it’s to the ocean, sometimes to the mountains, he explains before playing the Jane’s Addiction classic “Mountain Song.” —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

4:13 p.m. I've just arrived at the Samsung Galaxy Stage to hear Death From Above 1979 announce they're from Toronto."Oh, these guys are Canadian," I say to my associate. "That explains a little bit." To which he responds, "You mean why they remind you of Anvil?"ah, HA! —Casey Moffitt

4:25 p.m. Drummer / singer Sebastien Grainger looks out over the crowd and quips, “This actually makes sense. Death From Above plus tame Impala equals Metallica. Kind of?" The band rips into the next track and the camera operator spends a good amount of time cutting between Grainger and a kid air drumming along to his performance in the crowd. That was kind of terrific, and I’m sad when they finally stop with the shenanigans and return to just projecting the band. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

4:37 p.m. Grainger has dropped into a real nice, focussed groove for Death From Above 1979 while Jesse F. Keeler wails with his gnarly tones over it. It reminds of early krautrock, like Can, and it's a sound that really works for them. I wish they'd keep it up. —Casey Moffitt

Great, now we're hungry. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
4:50 p.m. If you're going to take the gamble to sell unlicensed merchandise at Lollapalooza, wouldn't you try to sell something that would move a little faster than tie-dyed Metallica shirts? Who's in that market? —Casey Moffitt

5:10 p.m. Usually I don’t do this at festivals, but I think I'm going to grab a piece of dirt at center stage as close as I can get and wait for Tame Impala's set. I think this move is really going to pay off for a band with a sound like Tame Impala. I can hear Walk the Moon's syrupy dance-pop numbers from the Sprint Stage, but I'm far enough away where it doesn't annoy me too much. I'll just chat with my friendly neighbors here who are already staking territory for Metallica's set. —Casey Moffitt

5:30 p.m. I think I figured out why Walk The Moon is so famous; they’re basically Hot Fuss era Killers, but with none of the menace and Colgate-gleam smiles. And just a dash of that “epic folk” that has so completely infiltrated the charts. I still can’t completely wrap my head around why they’re so popular, but I ain’t hating on it either. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

5:54 p.m. Oh! This is why Walk The Moon is famous. I didn’t realize they were the “Shut Up And Dance” band. That’s cool. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

5:56 p.m. I head over to the BMI stage to see Elle King clad in a sequin gold tube top, funky hat and a white blazer matching the rest of her band. "I'm pretty well known for a cover that I do," she teases, and we’re not sure if she’s referring to Tom Petty’s “American Girl” or the dirty Khia song “My Neck, My Back,” “but I'm not gonna play that right now,” she declares. Instead she does what she says is one of her favorite songs, The Beatles “Oh! Darling,” perhaps a nod to Sir Paul’s set the night before. Her treatment is of course raspy and loud, matching her sassy rock/country style. She then challenges the crowd to prove that they’ve heard her record before, playing some of her own songs, including the hit “Exes and Ohs” which has the crowd singing along with hands—and their cell phone cameras in the air. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

6 p.m. Tame Impala has just hit the stage and they've launched into a wild instrumental number with a huge sound and far out light show dancing behind them. It's like the second coming of Pink Floyd, but without the awesome lead guitars. —Casey Moffitt

6:08 p.m. Tame Impala are delivering on and beyond all expectations. I kind of wish I still got high but even without that, this is pretty mindblowingly epic. Was it really just five years ago they were playing Double Door and they’ve already graduated to near-headliner status, and it’s richly deserved? Amazing. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6:25 p.m. Tame Impala is putting on a pretty impressive set so far. Sometimes some of these prog rock tangents are a little tedious. But right now bass player Cam Avery is laying down an almost disco groove and drummer Julien Barbagallo is pounding a steady, straightforward beat. It's a focussed rhythm that propel the song over these keyboard washes and Kevin Parker's breezy vocals. It's a formula that's really working for them. I'm not talking about a funky beat, specifically, but when this rhythm section lays down a thick groove it makes Tame Impala a better band. —Casey Moffitt

6:41 p.m. Tame Impala's Kevin Parker is babbling something about the sun. He's kind of talking in circles."That's some real rock 'n' roll banter, there," keyboardist Jay Watson retorts. I'm glad Watson said that. I don't know why, but I get a real kick out of a sideman busting a frontman's chops on stage. —Casey Moffitt

Charli XCX lays down some beats, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6:45 p.m. Samsung has this virtual reality device called Samsung Gear VR that they invited us to try, so we went to their lounge next to where Tame Impala was playing to check it out. We tried out the live-stream option, though they did have pre-recorded concerts as well. It was a little difficult to hear over the actual band playing just yards away, but the technology was pretty cool. You get the impression that you’re right on the stage with the band, and sometimes the image looks out into the crowd, right over security’s heads. Luckily the band started playing one of my favorite songs as I had the headset on, so I got the best of both worlds. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

7:54 p.m. I've just filled my belly and I'm heading over to the Samsung Galaxy Stage to take in Metallica's set. I'm wishing and hoping, with my fingers crossed, that I get "Whiplash" or "Creeping Death" tonight. I'm not optimistic, but if we can avoid anything from St. Anger, I'll be alright. I'm in no mood to get all stangry at the music festival. —Casey Moffitt

7:59 p.m. Hot dog! The Reggie's food tent has fried pickles? I've got to get one! —Casey Moffitt

8:08 p.m. I walk by Perry's Stage on my way to Metallica's set just to see what's going on over there. Carnage might be trying to set some kind of record for dropping "F" bombs from the stage. "Let's have the best time of our fucking lives," he bellows. Well, I'm on my way to check out Metallica, so that seems unlikely right now. —Casey Moffitt

8:15 p.m. I finally get to Metallica and they're playing "For Whom the Bell Tolls." This is a promising start. —Casey Moffitt

Metallica, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

8:25 p.m. Instead of VIPs hanging from the rafters on the side of the stage as they do during most mainstage sets, Metallica makes them stand on stage behind the band. Literally right behind the band. The two-fold effect of this is a couple dozen hardcore fans are having THE BEST TIME EVER while the band feeds off the proximity of their energy to funnel a basement show, scrappy feel into their set. The trick here is simultaneously putting on an arena-worthy performance. Which, somehow they do. But I shouldn’t be surprised. C’mon, this is Metallica and they’ve seen it all. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

8:32 p.m. Metallica is in the way-back machine, drawing a lot of tunes from Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightning. I'm all about their set, but boy are they sloppy. These tempos are everywhere and the band is having a hard time putting everything together. When they do, it's really great. And these tone are heavy. I love hearing all these old songs, but man, I wish they'd be a bit more sharp. —Casey Moffitt

9:12 p.m. What helped Metallica set themselves apart back in the day was James Hetfield's ability to attack those nasty riffs like a buzzsaw. His guitar playing on those early albums is furious.I've just heard Metallica play "Sanitarium," "Disposable Heroes" and "One" recently in this set, and watching Hetfield try to grind out those riffs reminds me of watching an aging power pitcher. He's lost a lot of velocity on that fastball, and he's struggling to develop his finesse. This isn't to say that he can't be effective. In fact, there are stretches where he's very good. Still, not having the ability to reach back and fire that killer fastball is going to bite you eventually. I guess what I'm trying to say is that James Hetfield is kind of like heavy metal's John Danks. —Casey Moffitt

9:21 p.m. Wait. Good god, does Lars Ulrich really have a pony tail? No, no, no. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

9:28 p.m. "Creeping Death!" Hot damn, I got it. OK, I can leave now. —Casey Moffitt

9:45 p.m. The crowd at the north end of the park from Sam Smith is sad, sad, sad. I want to pat these people on the back and tell them it will be OK. But it won’t. Because they fucked up and picked Sam Smith over Metallica. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Bleachers, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

10:05 p.m. The party continues at Culture Collide’s Chicago afterparty at The Hard Rock Hotel as we settle in and wait for a performance from Bleachers. Two hours later the band takes the stage and Jack Antonoff once again takes the most unlikely elements of ‘80s pop to remain relevant and fashions them into epic sing-alongs. My writing companion and I have each seen the band a number of times now, and both agree they just get better and better. While they didn’t bring a tear to my eye during this set, their energy is just so positive and ernest it;s impossible not to get caught up in it. The crowd is intimate by design, but the room feels like it’s throbbing with stadium-level intensity. My only regret is that their tourmate Charli XCX had a previous post-Lolla engagement that kept her off the bill. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

12:23 a.m. “Born in the ‘80s? Love music from the ‘90s?” Jack Antonoff sells the crowd on their cover of the Cranberries “Dreams.” He’s got such energy and positivity as a frontman that he doesn’t need to convince us of anything, we’re already sold. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

12:31 a.m. Bleachers play a new song, “Shadow of the City,” and I’m still entranced. I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the ‘80s genre that they emulate, but they’re crazy good live and I totally get it. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny