Lollapalooza: Day 3 at Grant Park, Chicago, 8/7/11
When you've spent your entire weekend at Lollapalooza, the third day is exhausting. A few fresh faces with single day passes milled through the crowd, but the vast majority of party people were obviously tired and hungover. The final day of the festival had some incredible acts slated to perform (like The Cars and Foo Fighters), so thousands of worse-for-wear music fans grabbed their sandals and sunblock for one last dance at Grant Park.
Over the course of the day, the crowd's vitality started to return...and then the storms came. But pounding rains didn't shut the festival down -- they only made the party wetter.
Shortly before the clouds started to gather over downtown Chicago, The Cars played a set of hits to a crowd cautiously navigating a very muddy field. Whatever rambunctiousness the audience had was dialed down to some raised hands and whoops between songs, which matched the stoicism of Rick Ocasek as he led the band through "Just What I Needed," "Let's Go," and and extended version of "You're All I've Got Tonight." Guitarist Elliot Easton turned in a long, impressive solo at the end of the set, offsetting Rick's relative quietness with some nimble playing.
Psych-rockers Portugal. The Man set up directly across from The Cars, and started in on some trippy atmospherics before jumping headlong into "The Sun." The Alaskan quartet focused mostly on their most accessible material, but an end-of-set rockabilly detour almost derailed an otherwise excellent showing.
Across the park, DJ and producer 12th Planet didn't have any missteps at all, giving the crowd at the dance tent a flawless set of futuristic and funky dubstep. Dubstep as a genre had a huge presence at Lollapalooza this year, and in terms of volume, outweighed house and techno by a significant margin. But, of all the DJs at the festival, 12th Planet had some of the very best selections of the weekend...for those that weren't scared off by the rain.
Ominous clouds came in at 5:30, leading to a downpour just before 6 pm. Most festies had nowhere to hide from the water and eventually gave up on trying to find shelter, finally accepting how soaked they had gotten. Already wet, the fields at both ends of Grant Park turned into giant mud pits, with a big portion of the crowd flinging dirt and sliding around on their bellies.
Right next to one of the larger pits, Damian Marley and Nas played through the early part of the storm, reinterpreting reggae classics and hip hop anthems alike. Nas rapped over a version of "If I Ruled The World" that sported some Caribbean flavor while Marley's cohorts waved a Jamaican flag.
The Arctic Monkeys didn't make as big of a fuss over their homeland or their stage presence, letting their music do all the talking. The British boys jetted through an economical set short on talking but long on fan favorites. Closing the set with "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor," "Fluorescent Adolescent," and "When The Sun Goes Down," the Monkeys were bent on making the wet crowd forget about the weather.
The Foo Fighters played against Deadmau5 at the close of Lollapalooza 2011, and so the crowd split up, some opting for big dance beats while the others opted for Dave Grohl and chugging guitars. The Foo Fighters didn't have the fanfare of Eminem the night before, sticking to a few onstage lights while they played through heavier material from albums In Your Honor and Wasting Light.
Big hits came in the form of "My Hero" and "Learning to Fly" before the band delved deep into their catalog to come up with some snarling rock and roll. Grohl was vibrant and energetic all night, and even though more rain threatened to wash out whatever vigor the crowd had left, the Foo Fighters frontman gave an exemplary performance that ended (of course) with smash hit "Everlong".
By the end, the fans were wet and tired, but satisfied. Thousands of attendees trudged in waterlogged shoes through downtown Chicago to trains, garages, and taxis hesitant to give anyone a ride. The crowd moved in a mass through the streets, some singing amongst their friends and talking about rumors for the lineup next year.
Until next time, Lollapalooza. It's been fun.
Personal bias: Wasn't as into the lineup this year as I was in 2010, but it opened me up to some acts I had previously written off.
The crowd: Muddy, and almost kinda happy about it.
Overheard: Muddy girl: "Is this really happening right now?"
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