Hot. Humid. Not A cloud in the sky. Great music. If you guessed that the city and site described was Lollapalooza in Chicago then you’re the big winner. On an idyllic day in the Windy City, some of the best new bands in music descended to Grant Park (the site of the Buckingham Fountain made famous in the opening to Married In Children) and performed in front of nearly 100,000 of their closest friends.
Weather aside, the heat was coming from the stage throughout the festival’s day. Arriving to the eclectic sounds of Philadelphia rockers Dr. Dog, the day certainly started off on a solid note. The band performed songs off their latest album, Be The Void, in addition to songs scattered throughout their catalog. Scott McMicken’s voice carried well despite playing to an open field, which he probably learned through the band’s experience of playing festivals or through mentor Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Regardless, the band’s move from lo-fi garage rock to a more eclectic, fuller sound that proved that they were worthy of a main stage slot.
Meanwhile, the other side of the park, indie darling Sharon Van Etten dazzled a tightly packed crowd at the PlayStation stage, which is the smaller stage in the same area as one of the festival’s main stages (in this case, the Bud Light stage). The Brookyn-based rocker appreciated playing at the festival.
“There are some great bands that are playing here this weekend and Lollapalooza was always a festival that I always wanted to play as a teen,” she said to the crowd’s approval. “Now to be here in my ‘30s, wow.” Everyone who was there echoed that sentiment. Van Etten played a mean guitar in addition to the omnichord (for those of you who don’t know what that is, click here) and her backing band was terrific. They were in sync with what Van Etten was doing, which made not only for a tight set, but was by far and away one of the best early moments of the festival.
Like Van Etten, Seattle indie folk troupe The Head And The Heart also played at the smaller Sony stage (same as the PlayStation, but on the Red Bull Soundstage side) and served as a delicious appetizer to The Shins who were next up on the main stage. The band’s pleasant brand of folk was well received. Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell looked better equipped to play at this weekend’s Pickathon in Portland more so than Lollapalooza. Even so, the sextet kept concertgoers attention throughout their hour-long set, which served as the right amount of time to get fans into the music, yet not lose their attention by boring them.
(Photo Courtesy Billboard.com)
As great as the aforementioned bands were, the highlight of the day was hands down our Artist of the Week Passion Pit. The Boston-based electropop outfit played a 75-minute set that mixed songs from their first record and their acclaimed new album, Gossamer. This was one of their first shows back after canceling several due to singer/impresario Michael Angelakos needing some time off. Even with the break, Angelakos, who was clad in a button down shirt and tie, didn’t seem to miss a beat and his positive energy transferred into the audience.
The dark tone of Gossamer seemed to get lost in translation as fans were dancing, jumping and doing practically anything and everything with their bodies (whether was due to the drugs and booze is up to you to decide) as Passion Pit served as their soundtrack. As they closed with “Little Secrets” it was easy to sense that the band not only was on fire, but also seemed pleased with how well their music went over with the sea of fans who watched their set.
Onto day two, where the sun will undoubtedly be stronger, humidity more disgusting and bands needing to up their game in order to compete with what was a stellar start to Lollapalooza.
All Photos (c) Daniela Montelongo except as noted.