Lollapalooza: Day 2 at Grant Park, Chicago, 8/6/11
PHOTO BY DENIS JEONG PLASTER
If the first day of Lollapalooza is marked by enthusiasm, the second day is marked by hitting limits. The Day 2 crowd was more pronounced and did not wait until late in the day to show up, and police presence increased to meet the new demands. Partiers lined the grassy areas by the sidewalks -- many in Eminem t-shirts -- a few passed out face down from drinking too much. A hazy morning settled into a humid day, while the massive party in Grant Park reached pandemonium levels.
It was almost dangerously hot at the dance tent, where Perry Ferrell played a set of huge-sounding house and trance to a fist-pumping crowd. The tent had huge panels removed in the middle of the night, so there was more of an open-air quality than it had the previous day. The sun shone directly into the tent while Perry and wife Etty stepped out in front of the DJ booth to do a duet (of sorts) and rev up the already-heaving crowd.
The disco kids raved while the headbangers watched a reunited Death From Above 1979 crank out big bass riffs and bashing drums. Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler made more noise than seemed possible from a duo that hadn't played together since 2006, running through almost the entirety of their only album, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine for a group of excited fans.
"This is so rock and roll," said Grainger from behind a drum kit. "This festival is the kind of thing that guitar magazine pullouts and mud pit sex fantasies are made of."
The Deftones followed DFA79 with an even bigger guitar sound, backing off some of their dreamier tendencies to go straight for the scream-heavy fare. It's been a few years since The Deftones graced a Lolla stage, but their fans were still out in force. By the time the band got to hits like "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)" it felt for a second like the late 90's never left.
Just outside the area where Chino Moreno and company were pummeling their audience, diminutive British up-and-comer Ellie Goulding was playing her brand of sweet, danceable pop. "You guys are one of the best crowds yet!" she said in between songs, buttering up a crew of serene new fans that didn't need to be persuaded. With her high, rich voice, Goulding's performance was oner of the standouts of the day.
A quick trip over to check on CeeLo Green revealed the singer dressed like the Legion of Doom in black armor and shoulder spikes. After singing his hits (and an inexplicable midset DJ mix of rock guitars), Green left the stage to the strains of "Don't Stop Believing"...but didn't sing any of it.
The crowd at that end of the park had shown up early to get a good spot for Eminem, but ended up being bowled over by local heroes Atmosphere. A huge crowd gathered for the Minneapolis hip-hop vets, and Slug chatted it up like they were just hanging out at a basement show.
"Hey, do you guys mind if we play some of the old shit?" Slug asked, and the crowd erupted in cheers before Ant dropped the beat for "Guns and Cigarettes". The goodwill kept up through every rhyme and Rhodes lick, and from front to back, the performance felt natural.
With all the traffic gathered for Eminem (it was difficult to get within a block of the stage) Atmosphere gained a few new fans, but everyone was impatient for Em to arrive. The entire field was filled as the screens flashed to life with a prologue, documenting Eminem's personal journey to this exact performance.
Eminem was full of energy, but barely addressed the crowd, running through new material that boasted huge, grandiose beats. Whatever sense of humor Slim Shady had in his more infamous past has disappeared, and while it's evident that he still has skills, the malevolent joy that used to be his calling card has been nixed out in favor of a self-seriousness that left his audience at a distance in more ways than one.
The journey ends Sunday night, but there's a stellar line up leading to the finale. Stay tuned for coverage from Day 3.
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