Reverb is on the ground in Chicago bringing you highlights from this year’s Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park.
The Best: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. took the stage in full-body NASCAR suits on Sunday, only to remove them and reveal matching “Your Ad Here” T-shirts amidst a cascade of bubbles that showered the mid-day crowd. They launched into hit-after-earworm-hit, easily crafting the strongest performance of the afternoon. And then the rain came — twice. A series of intense storms swept through the festival, completely flooding streets and fairgrounds, so soaking everyone that it was impossible not to just laugh at the spectacle of it all. Mud pits were soon everywhere, and the more adventurous ones created impromptu slip-n-slides of filth while others snapped pictures and pointed. The shared experience of being bone-soaked and caked in mud created a sense of harmony which, by the time Deadmau5 (the stand out of the night and maybe the entire festival, easily defending his headlining slot) took the stage, made for one hell of a closing party.
Most disappointing: Whomever re-animated the corpses of the Cars needs to try again, and next time add a little soul. Co-headliners Foo Fighters could have done more to connect with their audience, as well. Although the set was plagued by an intense bout of rain mid-set, frontman Dave Grohl seemed to be going through the motions, trying to end before it rained again. Another major disappointment was the harried, rote performance by Arctic Monkeys, who are normally a reliably entertaining act. Not only did they fail to deliver any real emotion, their set ran exceptionally long and ate into nearly half of the time allotted to Explosions in the Sky who were unceremoniously cut off once Foo Fighters began on the other end of the field.
The strangest: During the day’s first intense storm, standing beneath a tall tree with several dozen other soaked, muddy fans while listening to Best Coast sing about the warm beaches of California. Frontwoman Bethany Cosentino, while being forced back to the middle of the stage to avoid being soaked herself, remarked that one day she’ll tell her grandkids about the time she sang songs about the sun while it rained at Lollapalooza.
Matt Hoffman is a Chicago-based writer and a new contributor to Reverb.