Standing outside for three days is a tricky proposition. Three days trekking back and forth between a mile of headliners is a tiring assignment. But three days spent stopping by all the side stages to check out great live music along Chicagos Magnificent Mile is just a great way to spend a weekend. Fun with friends. Amen. Hallelujah.
Lollapalooza arrived with an ominous rain but ended in a cool summer breeze. Whether this is because of climate change or a mighty fate is a discussion best left to Twitter and Fox News scientists. The fact remains: another year, another Lolla, another summer solstice of music festivals has come to pass.
Photo by Joshua Mellin
Cynics like to jeer the quality of lineups and headliners, but when it comes down to it, each day of Lolla offered a fair deal of older talent, new trendsetters, and a 72-hour dance party at Perrys. Toss in a loving atmosphere, great food, and some prime real estate along Lake Michigans sailboat lanes, and you, sir or madam, have got yourself a primo destination for music fans.
Or, at the very least, a chance to see the live version of some of your favorite albums. The Cure, Vampire Weekend, Grizzly Bear, DIIV, Alt J, etc., etc.. The list goes on and on, but fortunately for you, we’ve chiseled it down to another 13.
It’s never too early for a punk show.
Photo by Ian Witlen
It’s late Sunday morning: you’re exhausted, potentially hungover, and strongly debating not even getting out of bed for day three of Lollapalooza. To add, the last thing that a headache wants to experience is a punk rock show. But Palma Violets’ set proved otherwise as their thrashing electric guitars, punk-riddled harmonies, and careless chaos influenced the festival crowd to start the party a bit early. It was a basement punk rock show drawn through a rock n’ roll strainer, feeding out any over-distorted guitar work and nonsensical lyricism muttering from their ecstatic output.
Fists enthusiastically thrust in the air for newfound anthems like “Best of Friends”, and the crowd swayed, because it was still a bit too early to mosh, to a number of songs from the CoSigned outfit’s debut, 180. It was evident the London rockers had the time of their lives on stage, especially vocalists Chilli Jesson and Samuel Fryer, who pranced and jumped throughout the set’s entirety. Such energy works like wake-up juice for punk rock, and Palma Violets provided a new flavor for every sleepy Lollagoer. –Sam Willett
The Orwells tread line between showmanship and assholery
Photo by Pat Levy
The Orwells performed that rarest of rarities at Lollapalooza: the afternoon encore. And they more than earned it. Live, their already demented songs became completely unhinged, thanks to the wild eyes and gnarled stage presence of 19-year-old frontman Mario Cuomo. He threw just the right amount of slur on bratty breakout single “Mallrats (La La La)” and cackled appropriately throughout the slow dance-suicide of “Halloween All Year”, all while the rest of the band (Dominic Cuoso and Matt O’Keefe on guitars, twin brothers Grant and Henry Brinner on bass and drums) kept the music itself from getting too out of control.
So, that encore. At the behest of the crowd, The Orwells returned to The Grove stage for a gang-vocaled cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. It came at a fitting time, as I was just thinking that, in their main set, Cuomo reminded me of a goofier version of a young Iggy Pop. Pop was known for cutting his chest to ribbons with shards of glass; Cuomo removed his pants to reveal a pair of droopy Batman boxers. Pop (allegedly) exposed his dick onstage; Cuomo stuck to half of one pale ass cheek. All harmlessness went out the window, however, during the last moment of the song, when Cuomo unplugged the mic and Hail Maryed it into the crowd. Although the mostly teenage audience went wild over the stunt (some ecstatic kids near the sound booth caught it), to me it was kind of horrible. Microphones are heavy, especially when falling from the sky. What if they hadn’t caught it? What if it had knocked someone out? Or worse?
Photo by Pat Levy
Granted, I’m a good 10 years older and grouchier than The Orwells and most of their fans. And yeah, I’m sure Cuomo was just having fun or acting out his idea of what he thinks punk is supposed to be. So, I get that I’m probably alone in my distaste of the band’s final stage antic. But I dig their music and their electrifying live show. I really do. I just hope they learn to walk the line between showmanship and assholery without ever crossing it. –Dan Caffrey