Lollapalooza 2009: Saturday (Review)

    What a difference a day makes. Day Two of Lollapalooza felt almost like an entirely different festival from the previous day, primarily because (a) it did not rain, and (b) the crowd seemed to have multiplied by 10 (which probably means the weather kept a bunch of people from coming out on Friday). Saturday also featured near record-breaking heat and humidity – something that, while hard to ignore, seemed to have a far lesser impact on the festival experience than did consistent rain.


    With no inclement weather, it was far easier to explore and appreciate the surroundings. Grant Park is immense, green, and pretty beautiful. The famous Buckingham Fountain serves as a sort of nucleus for the park/festival, and running the length of one whole side is Lake Michigan, dotted with sailboats. Lines for food options were pretty short and efficient, and pretty much any gastronomic hankering could be satisfied (lobster corndogs, anyone?). Bathrooms remained pretty under control, and in general pathways were pretty bottleneck-free (with one notable exception I’ll get to).


    After a quick meet-and-greet with the on-site medics (uh, yeah, don’t text and walk…), I headed back to Perry’s for Andy Butler’s Hercules & Love Affair DJ set. It certainly didn’t disappoint, but it might have been a little on the mellower side in comparison to most of the other electronic acts. Still, it seemed that the more disco-y, blissed-out set was much appreciated by the heat-exhausted crowds lying in the nearby grass.


    Next, I headed over to check out Santigold … and never made it. After about 15-20 minutes of trying to fight my way through the masses, I sadly accepted defeat and made my way back to Perry’s. I did hear that she blew the crowd away, and I took solace in the fact that she was performing at an afterparty I was attending that night. For the next hour or two, I sampled from the musical buffet: L.A. Riots kicked the energy level up a few notches at Perry’s, Rise Against rallied hardcore fans at one of the big stages, and Lykke Li brought her own brand of unconventional indie-pop to a significant-sized crowd (on a stage conveniently located directly in front of one of the food courts).


    After a quick food break, I rushed back to catch Diplo’s DJ set – only the third time I witnessed him DJ in less than 24 hours. The first was Friday night’s aftershow at the awful Congress Theater, where Major Lazer and Crookers were headlining; despite being billed as “Major Lazer Soundsystem,” it was mostly a reggae-flavored DJ set sans Switch but including hype man. The second was Saturday afternoon’s Playboy Rockstar Brunch, where Diplo’s eclectic 90-minute set impressed madly and worked surprisingly well in such an intimate space. His Perry’s set was peppered with greatness (if a few teensy technical glitches) and ended with, not shockingly, “Paper Planes.” Though all the buzz these days may be about Major Lazer, Diplo definitely proved his ability to incite the crowds.


    Beastie Boys’ headliner replacements Yeah Yeah Yeahs closed out one of the main stages with an amazing, expansive performance that included an acoustic “Maps” that the entire audience joined in to sing (and easily forgave Karen O when she momentarily forgot the lyrics). It was a pretty impressive crowd, but I’d venture to guess the throngs were thicker at the other end of the park for co-headliners Tool.


    Lollapalooza godfather Perry Farrell performed again, this time on his namesake stage and with “special guests” (who played earlier that day) Kaskade. Other highly anticipated performances Saturday included Bassnectar, Arctic Monkeys, TV on the Radio, Coheed and Cambria, and Animal Collective.


    Post-festival, I headed to the Rock the Vote performance at Chicago’s Hard Rock Hotel to see Santigold take the stage with the Wu-Tang’s GZA. Unfortunately, although Passion Pit were due to play a set immediately preceding, attendees were “treated” to a way too long DJ set filled with every and any ‘80s pop song (“I Think We’re Alone Now” — really?) and ‘90s mainstream hip-hop track known to man. At least the drinks were free. When Santi and GZA finally took stage, there was some collaboration that mostly consisted of Santigold providing backing vocals for GZA’s raps and a rendition of Major Lazer’s “Hold the Line” (on which she’s featured). Yeah, it’s always awesome to hear GZA bust out “Liquid Swords” or remind us that “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit,” but it seemed the majority of people had come to check out Santigold and left disappointed after the too-short and inconsistent set. Nice to see they have love and respect for each other, though.


    Here’s to surviving Day Three …



    Photo galleries from Friday, Saturday, Sunday.