Chicago — Saturday the sun finally showed its face for the entirety of the day’s festivities, helping to dry up some of the remaining moisture left behind by the preceding days’ rains. Lollapalooza 2016’s third day also saw an increase in population, decked out in bright neon accessories and colorful costumes. While the main attractions of the day were sets by old favorites like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and founder Perry Farrell’s band Jane’s Addiction, there was an abundance of new bands to be seen throughout the day, some even taking top slots later in the evening.
Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio has carved out a nice little niche for himself as a solo artist, blending afro-pop influences with a unique blend of electronica that wavers somewhere in between the 80s stylings of Pet Shop Boys and the freak-folk synths of Animal Collective. He was looking especially dapper at his early afternoon Pepsi Stage set on Saturday, looking like he could’ve fit in well with a Sunday morning crowd at one of the many churches I used to live near back in New Orleans, his perfect bowtie complimenting his khaki blazer quite nicely. Baio wasn’t given much time to perform but he made the most of it, giving us a nice sampling from his debut LP The Names (released last year)—including “Endless Rhythm,” “Matter” and the ever-popular “Sister of Pearl”—as well as a taste of his earlier solo work with “Sunburn Modern,” off of his Sunburn EP released between VW’s second and third LPs. Though we love seeing him flanked by his Vampire Weekend cohorts, Baio shines as a solo artist, and sings and writes with a truly unique voice.
New York nostalgia rockers DROWNERS took the BMI Stage early-mid afternoon, just as the day’s heat was beginning to peak. The four key members were joined by a fifth member—a keyboardist—and in the shady glen along the park’s eastern side that hugs Lakeside Drive they all looked dashing in their coordinated outfits, focusing on the dominance of dark hues accessorized with dark sunglasses to match. Having just released their sophomore LP On Desire earlier this year, much of the forty minutes they were given were devoted to showcasing their newer material, including their three opening songs “Troublemaker,” “Cruel Ways,” and “Conversations With Myself,” as well the two songs they decided to close with, “Someone Else is Getting In” and “Pick Up The Pace.” Though the relatively small crowd was passionate throughout the short set, the times they were most animated were during the songs lifted from the bands eponymous debut LP, with “Long Hair” and “Watch You Change” getting extremely positive responses, but were no match with the sing-along that took place during their hit single “Luv, Hold Me Down.” Despite all the shade they enjoyed at BMI, they did look really hot onstage (insert obvious double-entendre here), but their energy was unprecedented, and all that black clothing does a good job of hiding sweat stains.
The award for best humorous banter from an onstage frontman has to go to Domenic Palermo, the leading man of Philadelphia shoegaze quartet Nothing, who took immense pleasure in attempting to troll the modest crowd that had gathered at the BMI Stage on Saturday afternoon. Throughout the set, he proclaimed his band was both Jane’s Addiction AND Radiohead, which was met with a mix of groans and laughter, and he also thanked everyone for coming out to “the other side of Chicago to see [them]” and thanked “BMI for helping [them] out,” before almost immediately turning on the audience for applauding him by remarking, “you don’t even know what [BMI] means, do you?!” Between the laughter, the band dished out a healthy helping of old-school shoegaze that was given a modern edge over the band’s seven-song set spanning forty minutes and including material from both of their full-length LPs. Highlights included “Chloroform” (‘This song’s about being kidnapped’), “Eaten By Worms” (‘This song’s about being dead’), and “ACD (Abscessive Compulsive Disorder),” which was preceded by a plea from Palermo to “do something loud,” because the audience was too quiet for his liking. The band closed things out with “Dig,” the sole charting single from their debut “Guilty of Everything,” which left the crowd in a sort of bewildered, semi-joyful daze that only proper shoegaze can deliver.
Fraternal UK duo Disclosure—made up of the Lawrence brothers Howard and Guy—have enjoyed a rapid rise to fame since their breakthrough debut LP Settle back in 2013. Last year they returned with their sophomore album Caracal, and now enjoying headlining slots at festivals all around the globe—including this year’s Lollapalooza, closing out the Bud Light Stage on Saturday night. Disclosure are unlike many of the other electronic acts you might see or hear at festivals for they stay true to their roots as a band, and while they are excellent DJs (as are many other EDM acts), they’ve elected to stick to performing with instruments rather than solely with turntables. They are accomplished drummers, vocalists, and bassists, among other things, and since their albums are deeply woven with vocal collaborators, often is the case that their talents must shine through the performance of their musical arrangements while the vocal tracks are played on top. This trend did not make listening to any of their collaborations any less enjoyable, such as “Magnets,” which features New Zealand pop star Lorde; or “Omen” featuring UK crooner Sam Smith, whose essence was infused into the visual spectacle of the song as neon silhouettes of the singer appeared on either side the stage. A few of the featured vocalists did make appearances, as in the case of British-Ghanaian singer Kwabs (“Willing & Able”) and London-based American singer Brendan Reilly (“Moving Mountains”), while Howard Lawrence provided live vocals for tracks “F For You” and “Jaded.” To cap it all off, Disclosure’s visual setup was not to be beat, featuring glittery strobes and carefully designed digitally-painted landscapes that completely overshadowed the more ostentatious light displays featured at the Perry’s Stage down at the other end of the park.
We’ve got one more day here at Grant Park covering Lollapalooza’s 25th Anniversary, so stay tuned to BestNewBands for Lolla ’16′s final day and all the great new bands it has in store!
Reviews by Corey Bell. Photos by Sarah Hess for Best New Bands