By the third day of Lollapalooza, things start to take a bit of a toll: The heat, the crowds, the lack of sleep, the non-stop physical activity of walking, dancing, etc. That said, Sunday’s pretty excellent line-up brought music lovers out in droves that almost seemed to equal the combined audiences from Friday and Saturday on what was another insanely hot and sticky (yet rain-free) day.
Getting into the park midday, I immediately made a beeline for the much-buzzed-about Dan Deacon, who I’d not yet had the pleasure of seeing live. While the lack of any form of shade at this particular stage at the hottest point in the day almost made me change my mind, I was rewarded for my perseverance by one of the most uniquely awesome live experiences I’ve ever witnessed. As the effective conductor of a dozen or so on-stage musicians, Dan Deacon kicked things off with a loud, crazy, bubbly jam – then abruptly called cut a short while in. “Let’s pretend the last 10 minutes didn’t happen and start the show over,” he explained to the sizable crowd. “I know I sound like a total dickhead right now …”
With that, he quickly proceeded to ask various members of his band to retune their instruments, then launched straight back into wowing the unfazed audience. In addition to the jubilant, magical Technicolor music (which later included the Providence, RI-based orchestra What Cheer? Brigade), festivalgoers were also treated to Deacon’s signature crowd-participation antics. In what is rarely if ever seen in such a massive scale, Deacon actually managed to have audience members: (a) place their sweaty hands on the sweaty heads of random strangers in front of them for a good few minutes, (b) form a human tunnel that spanned the circumference of the viewing area and dance through it, and (c) sit on the ground in an enormous circle while being led in an interpretive dance. Awesome stuff, only enhanced by the vaguely hallucinogenic properties of the hazy sun and secondhand pot smoke. (Best quote overheard: “It smells like dogshit and marijuana out here … I kinda like it …”)
Next up on one of the main stages, Vampire Weekend presented a upbeat and crowd-pleasing set in which they dedicated “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” to the recently departed John Hughes. Back at Perry’s, the brutal weather barely affected the wildly enthusiastic dance aficionados during the back-to-back sweet electronic chaos brought by Boys Noize and MSTRKRFT. Security were happy to spray down the kids with water; though I could have done with a lot less random water- and beer-tossing by way-sloppily inebriated festival attendees (always awesome for phones and cameras …).
Between food and beverage runs, I caught a bit of Snoop Dogg’s nostalgic and well-received mainstage set – seeing thousands chanting along to "Who Am I (What's My Name?)" was a personal highlight. Silversun Pickups followed at an adjacent stage – the perfect early evening set of swirly, fuzzy, sun-drenched indie rock. Among other much-anticipated acts on Sunday were Lou Reed, Gang Gang Dance, Bat for Lashes, and Deadmau5 (who indeed wore his mouse ears in spite of the heat). Co-headliners The Killers and Jane’s Addiction closed out the festival on opposite sides of the park – though I exited on the early side (trying to make an aftershow across town that featured L.A. Riots and MSTRKRFT at Bottom Lounge), I did see some helicopter action overhead -- I later found out this was part of some kind of impromptu battle of the bands in which Band of Horses went over their time allotment at the adjacent stage, so Jane’s proceeded with their scheduled time anyway (the helicopter shining a spotlight on their stage), resulting in a wall of rock noise for several minutes.
In all, a jam-packed weekend of some pretty diverse and first-rate music – dare I say, something for everyone … Weather aside, organizers did what I think is the second-best (first prize would go to Goldenvoice’s Coachella) job of creating a festival that really thought logistics through and did a great job of keeping things running smoothly. Would I do it again next year? In a word: Yep.