Saturday was a bit of a different flavor for us... the initial excitement of being in Chicago had worn off and it was up to the festival alone to propel us through the weekend. I was under the impression the combined weight of Gaga and Strokes would trump the rest of the weekend, and Friday would wind up being the most attended day (it was the only one that sold out initially). I was very, very wrong. By midday Saturday things were as packed and nuts as they had been the previous evening, and that was only the beginning of the afternoon. Lolla was in full swing.
Part of it can be attributed to the sneaks... tons of fence jumpers were tackled and handcuffed in front of us, but my guess is that a large number slipped through the cracks. Some kids on the train boasted that security had referred to one of them as "that Solid Snake kid" (of videogame fame). Should have taken video of some of the beatings, but it seemed cruel at the time. Others did not share my hesitation to tape others misfortune with the authorities (although I will add that this video TOTALLY STOLE MY JOKE, because it is totally original and no one has ever thought of it before me).
We made it in the gates in time to see Stars take the Bud stage. They played with their usual bravado, exaggerated hand gestures and all. They also had no shortage of props... the band walked out with white roses, which they consistently flung into the audience, and a few confetti guns which seemed to go off at completely random intervals. Oh, and Amy Millan seemed pretty wasted, but that is pure speculation on my part (but she probably was).
The days attendees seemed younger by comparison, with a noticeable lack of wristbands for drinking, and a sharp increase in pop punk t-shirts and drug abuse. So The XX had an ominously large crowd, as I would guess lots of kids thought it would be awesome. It wasnt. The sedated tunes of their record work much better in the studio than outside in a field, especially considering they have about as much energy as a coma patient when onstage. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
Grizzly Bear, however, sounded fantastic and played the hell out of their set. But that was no surprise, the Brooklyn darlings seem to excel both in intimate venues and on large stages. After their set I took a quick trip to the media area to talk to Vonnegut about the Atlanta music scene (thanks for the beer, guys!), and to our pals Wild Beasts about the end of Two Dancers, and their plans to record some new material for next year. So yeah, I walked the length of the entire park to get there, and then again to get back. I kept forgetting how huge the grounds really were... so many things happening at once. Mind boggling.
I made it back to see Spoon, who were also excellent as always. The guys played a cover for their friends Wolf Parade, which I caught with my phone, as well as all of "I Turn My Camera On" (I just kept it running). I managed to turn it sideways this time, but half the time Im struggling with one hand to put the cap on my water bottle, so its a little shaky. AMATEUR HOUR.
Cut Copy sounded like a party, but the real highlight of the evening (and possibly the festival) was Phoenix. The excitement for them was (as I tweeted) a definite code orange. The crazy kids always congregated stage left for some reason, and after chanting "Camera guy! Camera guy!" and getting his attention, they learned his name, chanted that for a while, and then told him to take off his shirt. And he did it! This Bud is for you, Camera Guy.
In stark contrast to the unengaged performance of the previous night, Phoenix really touched the crowd... literally, Thomas Mars descended into the hungry crowd like some heavenly figure, high-fiving and drawing panicked scurrying from security. The band was having so much fun, it was hard not to love everything that was happening. The antithesis of New York Lower East Side rock-n-roll, these Frenchies somehow managed to make The Strokes look like a bunch of a-holes. To be fair, as cneyland put it, "It cant be that hard". Well played.
All in all, another thoroughly satisfying day. It ended on a friends roof in a very satisfying combination of vodka, juice, and panoramic views of downtown. Living the dream. And Sundays formidable lineup was still to come...
Part three: tomorrow. -joe puglisi