Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lollapalooza 2012 recap: Part two

By Frank Krolicki

Picking up from where I left off on the first day of Lolla '12, I set off for Saturday in Grant Park preparing for another full day of festivities. I expected navigating through the usual intense heat and debauchery that goes hand-in-hand with the music at the fest, but I didn't anticipate Lollapocalypse.

And by that I mean having to evacuate the grounds, which actually didn't turn out to be that big of a deal. But that's what happened mid-way through day two. As everyone knows by now, the threat of a major storm forced the fest's organizers to temporarily shut things down and make everyone leave, leading to a ton of people milling around aimlessly on and around Michigan Ave. for a while before things got going again after a couple hours.

Lolla Farmers Market, home of grilled cheese on a stick
Other than that, there wasn't too much out of the ordinary during the final two days of the fest. As with day one, there were definite highlights but very little remarkable as far as the performances went (at least the ones I saw). On the food front, Saturday brought my first experience with grilled cheese on a stick (pizza flavor, courtesy of Brunkow Cheese) and Sunday with a raspberry-lemonade-flavored cream puff (courtesy of Puffs of Doom)--both tasty. I still wanted to get a slice of Lou Malnati's every single time I walked by their stand. And I still avoided Perry's Stage (now a completely separate area) because every time I walked by, it still looked to me like going in would be like experiencing one of the nine circles of hell.

Below is a recap of the music I did decide to experience on Saturday and Sunday.

Scrappy young punks FIDLAR started off my day, hitting on all the cliches one would expect from scrappy young punks: beer, weed, slacking off. If that's what you were looking for I'd imagine FIDLAR would do perfectly fine, but to me, there wasn't anything particularly exciting or interesting to latch onto.

Delta Spirit, though, offered plenty to get excited about. The San Diego-based band's sweeping, spirited, soulful rock was about as perfectly-suited for a music festival as music can be, and the band were clearly giving it their all. The set fell during probably the most intense, sweat-inducing heat of the entire weekend--which may have stifled some enthusiasm from the crowd--but it didn't seem to restrain lead singer Matthew Vasquez, who belted his vocals like there was no tomorrow and even ran down among the crowd to drench fans with buckets of water.

A bit later, while waiting for Chairlift to begin, I noticed the sky getting dark. I also noticed equipment being cleared from the stage. Uh oh. Not a good sign. Of course, then came the evacuation and the Brooklyn duo's set never got to happen on Saturday, but they didn't fortunately get to make it up on Sunday. The fest opened back up after a couple of hours, but since I wasn't really interested in any of the day's headliners, I took the storm and evacuation as a sign to call it a day.


Point to Infinity
My Sunday at Lolla began with Point to Infinity, a young four-piece from Texas who won their slot through a contest hosted by DoSomething.org and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation. They played snappy, optimistic indie pop and seemed happy to be there. Really happy. It was cool to see a band that didn't seem jaded in the least--they were simply having fun, and the small crowd of early-birds at the Google Play stage were having fun with them.

A bit later over at the Red Bull Soundstag, it was time to take advantage of some open space on the hill while taking in the sounds of London's Bombay Bicycle Club. The music was a nice-enough soundtrack for relaxing in the sun, but I couldn't help but think I might get a bit bored with it in most other situations; with a couple exceptions, all of the songs were sort of blending together into one pleasant-yet-samey sound.

White Rabbits' songs also mostly blended together into one pleasant-yet-samey sound, although in their case the pleasant was a bit less sweet and a bit more jagged, bringing to mind Spoon's style of indie rock. I actually called them "Spoon without the hooks" at one point, and didn't necessarily mean that as a bad thing--just that the set had a more hypnotic effect than a rousing one.

Dum Dum Girls
Dum Dum Girls' girl-group-meets-garage rock brought plenty of hooks, though, served up by the ladies all decked out in black, with frontwoman Dee Dee's luminous platinum blonde hair the only thing on stage looking like it belonged under the sun's bright rays. The band's noisy confections didn't offer much different or extra from what they do on record--and Dee Dee didn't have much to offer in the way of banter--but the set was a joy to see and hear regardless.

Over at the Red Bull Soundstage, Iceland's experimental dreamweavers Sigur Rós were doing their best to cancel out the horrible post-rain stench plaguing that muddy area of the grounds. That unpleasantness combined with the hot, bright sun and many audience members more interested in carrying on loud conversations than listening to music, created an entirely inappropriate setting for the band's fragile, complex sound, but still they managed to entrance.

The Gaslight Anthem's revved-up rock was apparently enough to attract throngs of people to the Google Play Stage, or maybe it was simply the fact that the evening was approaching and the masses were flooding into the fest. Either way, it made it almost impossible to move, and while I couldn't make it anywhere close enough to see the band, the few songs that I was able to hear definitely delivered the call-to-arms sound the band excels at.

My personal Lolla '12 experience came to an end soon after that, and now we've all got a year's wait for more, but I'm sure visions of Perry Farrell and his festival of madness will be dancing through our heads again before we know it.

What did you think of this year's fest? Best parts? Worst parts?

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