Chalk it up to a heart-on-sleeve pre-determined route, dragging my feet to as much angst as possible between Frightened Rabbit, the National and Arcade Fire, but Lollapalooza’s final day was ready to tug on some sentimental strings from the get-go, charmingly thrown in my face midday as a girl hopped a mud pit full sprint, forced me to say “love it” in high-five unison and proceed to bolt on the end of her breath through some elbows to catch that part when Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison explains what it takes to “Keep Yourself Warm.” 

Granted Hutchison was full of jokes, too, mocking fans’ applause, stating “Clap if you don’t like clapping,” to fill banter time, but The Midnight Organ Fight-heavy set he orchestrated was so steeped in sex and heartache, that by the time he and his Scottish crew translated the affectations live, there wasn’t a soul on that side stage that didn’t leave without a rasp in their throat.  Or mud on their feet. 

The National took a more brooding route, naturally, Matt Berninger rolling out everything from High Violet to Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers poems like the mic was his wife’s ear arrest on their bedroom pillows, with the only aggression displayed toward it when it came time for closer “Terrible Love,” and the desire to whip the thing on the concrete screaming “It takes an ocean not to break.” 


Not everything was a shoulder-slump.  Cypress Hill offered a prime ironic mood break with a mash-up of CSNY’s “Judy Blue Eyes,” breaking the quad-harmony do-do-do outro with a sultry summer Latin breakbeat, that hit it large back in March called “Armada Latina.”  And Perry’s grassy discothèque was a 2001 dilated pupil time-capsule, sweat and skin abound, if you disregarded JFK of MSTRKRFT’s attempt to bring house to the new frontier. 

Yeasayer could’ve gone either way, preceding all of this, depending on what time you reached their set at the Budweiser stage.  From the launch, you got vocalist Chris Keating yelping that “wishing never solved a problem,” in the emotional call-to-arms “Tightrope,” off the Dark Was the Night AIDS benefit compilation.  While the latter half gave non-Odd Blood time to their tribal freak-folk debut, All Hour Cymbals, billowing out harrowing harmonies and polyrhythmic keys and bell jabs all summer day pow-wow induced.

And Soundgarden would’ve shifted things entirely, as the crowning throwback rock shoe headliner of the entire weekend.  But Arcade Fire’s Win Butler was looking so militantly cathartic up North with his half-shaved head and Suburbs title track, ready to take a sea of 70,000, most likely ‘burbs-spawned kids, back to their depressing upbringing, dead-eyeing an “In my dreams we’re still screaming” chorus.  One part Bowie, one part Conor Oberst froth, and all parts doused in American (The Woodlands, TX) urban sprawl via Canada. 

Even when they slowed it down and dipped back into Neon Bible or Funeral, it’d be a weeping string torture through “Crown of Love” or an organ ball-and-chained “Intervention,” ached out beautifully further with some chorus lines from wife Regine Chassagne and crew.  You’d be fit to be a fool not to know where they were taking it, inciting a sloshy wave of hands to scream that part where we all wake the fuck up and “adjust.”    –Gavin Paul, Photos by Dana Loftus (Arcade Fire, The National, Yeasayer)

  1. [...] Lollapalooza, the alternative music festival that launched in 1991 as a summer traveling tour, and then was reborn as an August weekend fest in Chicago, is pitching its tents in Santiago, Chile this April. Bringing the festival to international turf has been one of founder Perry Farrell’s dreams since Lollapalooza began 20 years ago. [...]