Sunday we slept in, and didn't make it out to Grant Park until a little later than we wanted (but whatever, it was the home stretch). We entered through the north side of the park, where I noticed a familiar voice greeting festival goers. You might know her as Allison Hagendorf, the "voice of Fuse" (as she introduced herself in the prerecorded message playing over and over at the gate). Devotees will recall she used to host "The Green Room" on a little site called BAEBLEMUSIC. SERIOUSLY.
Nailed it. It kind of summed up a day that would wind up being pretty Baeble-has-filmed-it heavy early on.
So first up, we caught Mumford and Sons, who sounded spot-on. Then we caught Yeasayer, who looked like they were loving the outdoors. They claimed that the skies have never rained on a Yeasayer show, and they were pretty much spot on. What had started as a drizzly overcast dissolved into brilliant sun when they took the stage. I don't agree with the claims that they were kind of blah, but the crowd seemed to play an integral part in the making or breaking of sets and their "feel". So whatever. Oh yeah, and we totally got covered in glitter by some kids. HIPPIES.
Frightened Rabbit sounded pretty good, and so did Mutemath, but it was hard to focus on anything but the insane crowd gathering for MGMT. Literally, what seemed like the entire festival crammed onto the north field to experience one song, although that song was different for everyone (probably). The dudes came out wearing entirely too much clothing, and staggered those "hits" throughout the set, ensuring a favorable crowd throughout. I've never seen so much crowd surfing, a kid literally hit the photo pit every fifteen seconds when I was in there. Most of the photographers started ignoring the band in favor of capturing the insanity of the crowd. "This one is going to get messy" one member of the security team told me. He was totally right.
The National sounded pretty gritty, with Matt Berninger near-screaming his voice to death, but it was just a distant cry for us. During their set we staked out a spot in front of the sound booth to avoid the crowds movements when the big dogs took the stage. That later turned out to be a solid choice... one of the neighborhoods (I think it was #3) caused a severe rush to the stage (and it would have easily trampled us). Instead, we simply watched it roll by in awe. The Arcade Fire played a set very similar to the one at MSG, so it wasn't quite as special for me. But the energy, the crowd, and the enthusiasm were all there in spades, and it seemed like despite Soundgarden's massive following, The Arcade Fire won the night with sheer willpower.
After it was all over, the energy kind of hung in the air rather than dissipating into nothing. Hearing the remaining kids on the garbage strewn field, chanting "Wake Up" in small bursts (and doing stuff like below) was a nice final note on the weekend. Lollapalooza, although heavily commercialized, still brought the spirit of a true music festival, shirtless, shoeless, dirty, drug addled kids seeing a clusterf*cks worth of music and getting muddy and stupid. So what if there is a little less alt-rock weirdness and a little more gourmet deep-dish pizza? I'd still go back, and it wouldn't be for the food. -joe puglisi