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Playback: Lollapalooza 2012

Lollapalooza came to a close last weekend in Chicago with Kaskade, Jack White and Justice capping off the final night. Even though an epic storm rolled through mid-day on Saturday and had everyone evacuate, nothing was going to stop this festival from being a success. Whether you want to relive the festival, or you didn’t get a chance to go to Chicago and you want to hear some of the artists that played, here is a full report of Lollapalooza 2012.

Friday, August 3rd

If there is one thing I can be counted on, it’s being late. So of course I showed up to Grant park ‘festively’ late and missed Animal Kingdom and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs but made up for it by getting right down to business and catching a bit of Tame Impala’s set while heading over to see Metric. Tame Impala slipped by my musical radar these past few months somehow, but I was pretty blown away when I saw them play on Friday. They’re kind of like a modern day Beatles mixed with some elements of Spoon and Toro Y Moi. Their single ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ has this epic far-reaching rock sound that is absolutly clutch in a festival setting. Pretty amazing, and highly recommend seeing them live. Their album “Lonerism” comes out October 9th in the US and can be pre-ordered from Rough Trade Records.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Apocalypse-Dreams.mp3|titles=Apocalypse Dreams]

Tame Impala – Apocalypse Dreams

When I got over to Metric the first order of business was to get a drink in my hand. And although I’m a whiskey drinker, it seemed like sweet-tea vodka made more sense in the heat. Lollapalooza was being sponsored by Tito’s Vodka, which also made it a lot easier to get my hands on a vodka drink over a whiskey drink. Anyway, before I get too sidetracked, the point of this little story is that as I’m double fisting sweet-tea vodka’s in cups that advertise the “Tito’s” logo in front, none other then Tito himself rocked up to say hello. I know this isn’t music related, but I just have to say, Tito is one of the nicest guys in the alcohol business. I only got to talk with him for a few minutes, but the Tito’s brand image of a laid back dude from Texas that just wants to make great vodka, is totally true.

After the run-in with Tito, half of the group I was with decided to go to Madeon while a couple of us decided to hit up Die Antwoord. While I don’t regret the choice, I heard that Madeon was one of the top shows of Friday. I guess that’s just the nature of a festival… you’re going to miss some good shows.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Finale.mp3|titles=Finale]

Madeon – Finale

After a relatively tame audience experience at Metric I was ready to get all up in the crowd and dance myself clean to Die Antwoord. We’ve been big fans of Die Antwoord ever since they blew it away at Hard NYC on Governors Island a couple years ago and I knew that they were going to kill it this time too. Yo-Landi Vi$$er, with her super hi-pitch voice and dirty mouth, was nuts… flashing the crowd and brandishing her middle finger whenever the opportunity presented itself. It was just one of those really fun shows that everyone from front to back was dancing to.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/09-Babys-On-Fire.mp3|titles=Baby’s On Fire]

Die Antwoord – Baby’s On Fire

It was hard to follow up any show Die Antwoord put on, but Passion Pit proved to do just that. And not in a high-energy in-your-face dance-your-head-off kind of way… it was good because it was just good old indie pop you could rock to while the sun was going down. Passion Pit always delivers in an open air setting.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/The-Reeling.mp3|titles=Passion Pit – The Reeling]
Passion Pit – The Reeling

Towards the end of the Passion Pit set I made the long walk across the park to catch Nero on Perry’s stage. I was really impressed with Nero. Of course you expect it to be a fun show with hits like “Promises” and “Crush on you” but I was surprised when the rest of their set was more killer than filler. They were remixing everything from bass filled southern rap to Hall & Oates, all of which had one goal in mind… Dance.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Reaching-Out-Hall-Oates-sample.mp3|titles=Nero – Reaching Out]
Nero – Reaching Out (Hall & Oates sample)

Closing out the night was Black Sabbath, Bassnectar, and The Black Keys. My goal was to see at least two out of three. And when I heard that Ozzy went off the stage early, so I think I made the right choice.

Bassnectar was absolutely off the chain. I had no idea that this guy was so popular, and I was sort of skeptical of his position headlining on the first night, but he put all skepticism to rest once he got under way. The field was packed from the stage to the trees and there wasn’t one person just standing around. it was insane.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Vava-Voom-ft.-Lupe-Fiasco.mp3|titles=Vava Voom (ft.Lupe Fiasco)]
Bassnectar – Vava Voom (ft.Lupe Fiasco)

The Black Keys were definitely a bit less mental, but that says nothing about the quality of the show. I think as far as Friday night goes, The Black Keys had the biggest crowd on the largest stage, and they truly are a headlining band. The finale included fireworks during there performance of “Money Maker.” All of it added up to a very satisfying first night at Lolla.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Gold-On-The-Ceiling1.mp3|titles=Gold On The Ceiling]
The Black Keys – Gold On The Ceiling

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADmocV25pQU&feature=relmfu[/youtube]


Saturday, August 4th

Got to Saturday bright and early at 10:45 before they opened the gates so I could do some walking around the festival and get a feel for things before people came in. Of course, my hangover from the night before had me sipping on water in the shade and riding around in a golf cart for the better half of the morning. The good news is I was able to check out a few bands before I had to retire for a disco nap and lunch.

Chief Keef was the first band I walked past and I couldn’t help but indulge myself to a little hip-hop. I have to say, I’ve never heard of Chief Keef before, but there was a certain amount of Chicago pride (he’s from Chicago) along with some serious bass that made the small crowd of early (and very dedicated) fans appreciate the show all the more.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/I-Dont-Like.mp3|titles=Chief Keef – I Don’t Like]
Chief Keef – I Don’t Like

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/I-Dont-Like-ft-Kanye-West-Pusha-T-Jadakiss-Big-Sean.mp3
|titles=Chief Keef – I Don’t Like (remix ft. Kanye West, Pusha T, Jadakiss & Big Sean)]
Chief Keef – I Don’t Like (remix ft. Kanye West, Pusha T, Jadakiss & Big Sean)

It turns out that by the time I saw Chancellor Warhol and Bear in Heaven and headed out for a quick lunch, a severe storm started moving in from the west which ultimately shut down the festival. There were a few unfortunate side-effects to that, the most devastating of which was that no one was able to see Alabama Shakes perform. boo.

When the doors finally opened again it seemed like Grant park was flooded with a wash of people covered in mud but ready to party. I made my way over to see FUN. just in time to hear “We Are Young.” score! Calvin Harris followed FUN. and I was keen on catching the first half of the set and then seeing some of Bloc Party next door.

Sidebar: Totally unrelated to music, I was milling around backstage at Bloc Party when I ran into two muddy Irish girls whom I thought it would be funny to take a picture with. Then David fucking Arquette rocks up in a little sports coat and a smile and I ask if he could get in the picture. He agrees, to which the mud covered girls seem a little bit surprised (if not annoyed) because apparently they have no idea who he is. After the picture people around start realizing who it is and suddenly one of the Irish chicks realizes that he was married to Courtney Cox and starts chasing after him. This is where I learn that David Arquette isn’t just fast in the Scream movies, but quite nimble on his feet in real life too.

It’s rare that you get to see Bloc Party in the states so I was pretty happy to have the opportunity here. The show combined with the Chicago skyline shortly after sunset as a backdrop was hard to put into words.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/One-More-Chance-Alex-Metric-Remix.mp3|titles=Bloc Party – One More Chance (Alex Metric remix)]
Bloc Party – One More Chance (Alex Metric remix)

I have to admit, I had to be forced to go to see Avicii by the people I was traveling with. I was assured that it would be the best of the closing acts. Avicii is quality, I agree, but his music has always been a bit to mainstream for me. In any case, I’m glad I was was dragged over to see him play. He spins out of a giant fucking head that has all sorts of shit projected on it. The light show was only half of the show though. The other half was a continued energy through each song which was punctuated by his hits. Of course I was waiting to here is number one song, “Levels,” and was pleasantly surprised when he mashed it up with Gotye’s track “Somebody That I Used To Know” giving it a fresh new twist. People went absolutely berserk when he played that song! I’m not joking… every single mother fucker up in that crowd was singing along. Shit was cray!

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Levels-Avicii-vs-Gotye-mashup.mp3|titles=Avicii – Levels (Avicii vs Gotye mashup)]
Avicii – Levels (Avicii vs Gotye mashup)


Sunday, August 5th

Rainy overcast muddy Saturday was in the books and sunny Sunday was about to begin in Chicago. I think everyone was 10% happier and a lot less muddy.

Eased into the day with some music from The Devil Makes Three followed by White Rabbits. Then headed over to catch Little Dragon mac it to her audience. Yukimi is such a little hottie.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/All-Hail1.mp3|titles=The Devil Makes Three – All Hail]
The Devil Makes Three – All Hail

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Instant-Karma.mp3|titles=White Rabbits – Instant Karma]
White Rabbits – Instant Karma

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Sunshine.mp3|titles=Little Dragon – Sunshine]
Little Dragon – Sunshine

On the east side of the Sony stage there was a nice little hill that you could perch up on and listen to the sounds of Sigur Ros and Toro Y Moi weave in and out of each other while you soaked up some sunshine. It was a pretty rad combo.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/New-Beat.mp3|titles=Toro Y Moi – New Beat]
Toro Y Moi – New Beat

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Hoppipolla.mp3|titles=Sigur Ros – Hoppípolla]
Sigur Ros – Hoppípolla

Florence + The Machine was a nice follow-up to the chilled out sunshine music of Toro Y Moi and Sigur Ros. Surprisingly I have never seen Florence live, so getting backstage for my first Florence show was pretty exhilarating… she is WAY taller than you think. Anyway, got back into the crowd and put my dancing shoes on for a couple of her popular songs then cut out a bit early to catch a little bit of the Miike Snow set.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Cosmic-Love-Seven-Lions-Remix.mp3|titles=Florence + The Machine – Cosmic Love (Seven Lions Remix)]
Florence + The Machine – Cosmic Love (Seven Lions Remix)

There was a bunch more energy in front of the Miike Snow stage. Everyone went nuts to “Black and Blue” “Animal” and “Paddling Out.” Their music really does a good job of making the jump from album to live performance. All the live instruments being played on stage as well as Andrew Wyatt belting out on vocals helps make it a high energy show.

Sidebar 2: Between Avicii, Little Dragon, and now Miike Snow I’m suddenly realizing how many Swedish artists are at Lollapalooza this year (weird?)

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/audio/2012/08/Paddling Out.mp3|titles=Miike Snow – Paddling Out]
Miike Snow – Paddling Out

And it all leads to this…. although Jack White and Kaskade are very decent closers, there was only one show I wanted to see to finish off Lolla. Justice.

The French duo set the stage for epic-ness. Centered was their famous glowing white cross flanked by two huge stacks of Marshall amplifiers. The perfect statement for their flavor of rock inspired dance music. The two were stood on a dj platform above the glowing cross dealing out a conflagration of hard synths covered in distortion and crushingly heavy bass-lines.

Up until this weekend, I’ve always pictured Justice as two very serious electronic artists with little or no sense of humor. I learned that although they might be serious about the music they produce, they have quite a sense of humor. On Sunday they were spotted driving around on a little golf cart.. dead-pan, and mostly ignored by oblivious festival goers. And then during their set they made it pretty obvious that they were doing nothing more than pressing play and fist-pumping throughout the show. It was kind of liberating in my opinion. Instead of pretending like you are doing more than pressing play and checking your email or playing angry birds for the rest of the set like so many EDM producers do, Justice owned up to it by putting their hands up in the air for most of the set (“Look ma, no hands”). And then there was the part where they played their remix of Soulwax’s track “NY Excuse” where the lyrics proclaim “This is the excuse that we’re making. Is it good enough for what you’re paying?” I guess I miss judged their sense of humor a bit.

Instead of pretending to be creating all of this music live that they’ve clearly spent a lot of time producing beforehand, they focused all of their energies on putting on an incredible theatrical show. There was the insanely electronic and rock infused stage that looked like it could have been borrowed from a Star Wars set and the near seizure inducing light show to complement the ever-present glowing cross (an ironic symbol in itself). At one point, the cross opened up to reveal a glowing keyboard for which both guys took turns sitting at to ‘perform’ epic solos. The visual experience was given the same amount of attention that the audio experience had. It was pretty brilliant.

They played a bunch of their new stuff including ‘Civilization,’ but their old stuff like ‘DVNO’ and ‘D.A.N.C.E’ set people into a fucking rage (my sunglass got kicked off by a crowd surfer at one point, ‘it’s all good bro’). Their live show captures a kind of furious energy that can’t be recreated on a recorded album. My favorite part was how they kept dropping the line ‘We Are Your Friends’ from their collaboration with Simian Mobile Disco throughout the set. “We. are. your friends… you’ll never be alone again!” Nuts. Definitely the best show of the night if not the weekend.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Onnon.mp3|titles=Justice – On’n’on]
Justice – On’n’on