Features Music Lollapalooza 2009: Photo Diary

Music: Lollapalooza 2009: Photo Diary

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears


The Gaslight Anthem

Of Montreal

Perry Farrell

LA Riots

Gang Gang Dance

Lou Reed

The Chicago streets outside Grant Park


Lollapalooza kicked off Friday, August 7th in downtown Chicago's rain-soaked Grant Park. Festivalgoers included the predictable assortment of Chicago hipsters, glass-eyed stoners, drunken dads, and tie-dyed festival-hoppers. Within a few hours of arriving, that rain which started as a minor inconvenience actually began to heighten the collective revelry. Crowds quickly grew more wet and less sober; it seemed most everyone had checked their self-consciousness at the door. A twenty-something near our camp quickly scrawled "I Need Acid!" on his shirt and wandered off, returning with a smile from ear to ear and several tabs on his tongue.

It was typically difficult to get closer than eight or ten rows from the front of the stage, especially at the later shows. Video screens helped to allay this problem, however, and there was never any point when I was physically unable to see an act.

The following two days were categorized by nearly unbearable heat and dryness. The Chicago Fire Department had misting stations set up and water was readily available, but it still seemed as though most of the sold out crowd was experiencing some combination of dehydration and inebriation. On Sunday night, the always-modest Brandon Flowers shouted at an exhausted crowd, "I know it's hot and I know it's a Sunday, but c'mon! You're seeing the Killers!" As the festival ended, some 85,000 festival-goers poured into the streets, their cheers completely drowning out any protests from motorists and law enforcement.

Hey Champ

The Chicago-native dance-hall trio put on a lukewarm set, twice advertising their Myspace and spending most of the performance writhing around the stage arrhythmically.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears

Austin, Texas's jazzy sextet played the crowd well to open the day. Few in the crowd seemed familiar with the band, but plenty were grooving all the same to the James Brown-esque funk and brass. Joe Lewis introduced the last song of the set by saying, "this next one's called ?Big Black Snake'. Y'all know what this is about."

The Gaslight Anthem

The band took to one of Lolla's two largest stages and played to what was undoubtedly one of the biggest crowds of their careers. Lead singer Brian Fallon looked shocked by the turnout and appeared to be having the best time of anyone at the show. They played a fairly evenly distributed set of songs off their first two LP's and various singles, ending with "Backseat" off "The '59 Sound." The band's performance was energetic, earnest, and one of the festival's most memorable.

Bloody Beetroots

The Italian electronica duo took their places in Perry's dance tent donning their infamous Venom masks and swiftly whipped the crowd of candykids and drunken revelers into an all-out rave. This was perhaps one of the most intense shows of the weekend.

Of Montreal

Kevin Barnes is the closest thing our generation will ever get to a Marc Bolan-esque character. The band took the stage and played a fairly predictable set of fan-favorites while putting on their standard surrealist theatrics, complete with the spearing of a pig-woman and demon-crucifixion.

Kings of Leon

The Friday night headliners put on a pretty standard set. Their sound was golden and they played most of their famous singles (though noticeably slowed down for whatever reason). The then-tired crowd seemed neither surprised nor disappointed by the performance.

Living Things

The St. Louis glam-rockers had a hard time getting their smallish audience into any of their songs. Their matching leather jackets and eighties hair-cuts, combined with a flat sound and lead singer Lillian Berlin's unenthusiastic sips (and subsequent spits) of beer all seemed to chip away at their musical potency. Even dropping their one famous single, "Bom Bom Bom," illicited only modest crowd recognition.

Animal Collective (DJ Set)

Perhaps the most disappointing set of the weekend, a huge crowd congregated into Lolla's fairly small dance tent, only to be treated to Avery Tare and Panda Bear literally picking songs off an iPod. Lame.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

All the naysayers who doubted the YYY's would make a competent replacement to the Beastie Boys (who dropped out due to Adam Yauch's cancer surgery) were immediately hushed as Karen O stormed onstage in an ornate bird costume. The band sounded spot-on and put on one of the best shows of the weekend. Nick Zinner even included a riff from the Beasties' "So What'cha Want" at the end of "Phenomena".

Gang Gang Dance

Though the show was plagued with technical problems early in the set (broken guitar strings and malfunctioning pedals) the Brooklyn percussive quartet quickly fell into their psytronic groove. The crowd hippy-danced and flung beach balls as a random roadie stood onstage and smoked (tobacco?) from a banana. Their sound was full and their performance evocative; this was probably the best non-Gaslight show of the weekend.

Vampire Weekend

They took the stage to one of the festival's biggest crowds donned in collar shirts and swimming trunks, which perfectly complimented the hot weather and their lighthearted, summery tunes. The band played their entire self-titled album, dedicating their song "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" to legendary "Sixteen Candles" director John Hughes. Their sound was excellent and it seemed like most everyone in the audience knew the words.

Boys Noize

Alexander Ridha took the stage rocking his signature unibrow and assailed his audience with masterfully mixed tracks both familiar and new. In a nifty homage to one of his idols, he dropped the guitar riff from Michael Jackson's "Beat It" into the middle of a track, causing the audience to go absolutely wild. The German DJ seemed to be having the time of his life and that energy was nearly tangible as the crowd raved into the night.

The Killers

To close the weekend, the Killers headlined and played an expected array of singles and hits. Like Friday's headliners (Kings of Leon), their set was neither phenomenal nor inadequate.

Words & Pictures: Edson


Words by Edson on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:05 a.m.

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Posted by Edson on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:05 a.m.

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