Chicago – The day started off beautifully: the sun was shining, the crowds were pumped, and music was flowing in every direction. Alas, it was all too good to be true. Chicago weather had a different plan. Halfway through the day, the rain came poring down, but that’s not to say the rainy afternoon blues fell upon Lollapalooza. The music went on, people danced in the rain, singing along to their favorite new bands. All in all, day one of Lollapalooza was spectacular.
There’s nothing like starting your day off with a cup of coffee and some good old rock and roll. Thanks to Highly Suspect, that’s just what I did at the BMI stage. The Brooklyn trio was coming off a seven-week tour, with Lollapalooza being the last show before heading home. The guys were pumped, and it showed. Their set was energetic, and despite the early start time, they gathered a full crowd. Highly Suspect brought rock and roll to the shady knoll, while Lake Michigan glistened in the sun behind them. They played songs off their EP Black Ocean, including the single “Bath Salts,” and some new tracks, such as “Mom” and “Mr. Asylum.” I chatted with the guys after their killer set about their new material. Stay tuned for the interview!
After Highly Suspect, I jotted over to the Bud Light stage to see UK band Temples. The guys started a little late due to a rain delay, but thankfully the crew got the all clear to get things rolling. Cheers welcomed the removal of tarps from the amps and speakers, and when the five English lads came strutting onto the stage, in awe of the crowd before them, an even greater boom of hollers spread. Singer James Edward Bagshaw expressed his wonderment in not only playing Lolla, but in being granted the opportunity to play on one of the main stages. He quipped, “The audience starts where it usually ends for our gigs!” Playing plenty of songs off their debut album Sun Structures, Temples turned the sunny lawn into 1960s England. It was as if we were in Hyde Park, listening to the “latest craze,” psychedelic rock.
Temples may have beat the rain, but other bands weren’t so lucky. Australian trio Jagwar Ma caught some of it over at The Grove, but they made it clear a little rain wouldn’t ruin their afternoon. Singer Gabriel Winterfield shouted from his mic, like a cheerleader, encouraging the audience to dance to the music. It worked. For a moment, The Grove became a smaller, more subdued version of Perry’s. Speaking of Perry’s, I attempted to check out Iggy Azalea, but the crazy rave kids were too much to handle, officially making me “that adult.”
Luckily CHVRCHES gave me just what I needed to make up for missing the fancy rapper, adorable accents and all. The Scottish threesome took over the Lakeshore stage, filling it with colorful lights, lovely synth-pop, and glitter. Just as they took the stage, the clouds cleared, and lead singer Lauren Mayberry sparkled in the sun, singing tracks off the album The Bones of What You Believe, with “The Mother We Share” being a clear crowd winner.
After CHVRCHES’ fantastic set, I again made my way over to the BMI stage. There I saw Royal Blood put on what I declare the best set of the day! After shredding all over the stage, singer Mike Kerr said, “I’d like to introduce you to the rest of the band.” Laughter ensued as Kerr acknowledged the other half of the duo, drummer Ben Thatcher. The British rockers performed their single “Little Monster,” and ignited the first real mosh pit I’d seen all day. As their sound of bled out, more and more people could be seen walking over to catch the twosome’s hard rocking antics. Many Lolla artists watched from the side of the stage and throughout the crowd, including members of Highly Suspect. Just when I thought Royal Blood was done with their set, they both walked to the edge of the stage, raising their hands as a means to beckon cheers. The crowd roared for more, and the two obliged, melting plenty of faces.
I dipped out of the festival early to catch Wildcat! Wildcat! at an official Lollapalooza after show. The LA trio opened for Spoon, bringing their self-described indie hip-pop to the cozy Metro. No doubt the room was filled with Spoon fanatics, but nonetheless, they found themselves grooving to tunes like “Mr. Quiche.” W! W! also had quite the treat for Chicago. They weren’t intending on playing “The Chief,” but while roaming downtown, they stumbled upon a saxophone player by the name of Erik Brink. They asked Brink if he’d care to join them in their Lolla performances, and of course he said yes! The Chicagoan, who wore a smile big enough to fill the music hall, added a killer solo to the song from their self-titled EP. (You can read more about this in BestNewBands.com’s upcoming interview with W! W!) Wildcat! Wildcat! were the perfect close to my first day of Lolla.
There’s still two more days to go, so continue to check in for all our coverage on our twitter and at here at bestnewbands.com! I’ll be tweeting and instagraming at @sarahhasanh, too. If you’re at Lollapalooza, tweet at us. Let us know what new bands you’ve discovered.
All Photos By Sarah Hess - http://www.smhimaging.com/
After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.
You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.