Anna Holmquist: I woke to find that Chairlift had been given a slot at 7:30 on the final day of Lolla to make up for the evacuation cancellation. This set the tone for the rest of my day.
Taylor Brennan: Staying out super late to watch the Company of Thieves after show at Hard Rock Café took its toll. I felt like I had a music hangover, complete with ringing ears, headache, and bright red sunburns. But with only one day to go before Lollapalooza closed its gates for a year, I decided a little hair of the dog was in order, and walked right back into Grant Park.
White Rabbits – Bud Light Stage – 2:30
TB: White Rabbits was intriguing before the band played a note. With two drummers (unorthodox, but I’ve seen it pulled off well before), three singers, and a lot of noise; it was clear White Rabbits had something unique. The band has a distinguishing sound that sets it apart from other bands, but song to song all tend to sound similar. Each started out with a timid vocal line over quiet guitar picking, before building into a wall of guitar effects. The band had more impact when loud, but still failed to elicit a huge response from the audience. Maybe others were suffering from the same music hangover that I was. The song “Percussion Gun” seemed to be the one familiar among the crowd, and when the frenetic drum beat started, the crowd livened up. Though White Rabbits commanded the audience from this point on, it was already late in the set. The band held onto the goods for too long, and a good portion of the attendees had checked out by then.
Gary Clark Jr. – Playstation Stage – 3:15
TB: Having just seen this up-and-coming blues master at Bonnaroo two months earlier, my plan was to catch something new. However, the crowd moved like molasses through the mud, so I was able to see a few of Gary Clark Jr.’s opening songs. Gary Clark Jr. does one thing, and he does it very well. He’s right at home on a bill with The Black Keys and Jack White, all masters of the blues riff that hit like a Rage Against The Machine song. His band played incredibly tight, and his gravelly baritone was mixed perfectly, but the real reason he had an audience the size he did is his guitar playing. He played that thing like it owed him money.
Sigur Ros – Red Bull Soundstage – 4:00
AH: I stood for over an hour waiting to hear the Icelandic group take the stage. I wished that the band had a nighttime spot instead of one at 4 p.m., since its music is night music. Nevertheless, Jonsi Birgisson and company created beautiful music. Birgisson’s bowed guitar and stunning falsetto gave me shivers despite the sun’s heat and the press of the enraptured crowd around me. It was magical.
TB: At first, I thought the entire hour long set for Sigur Ros would be falsetto, Icelandic chanting. The set started so quietly and spacey, I couldn’t imagine staying awake for the entirety, but each song built on the last. The audience responded to each song with additional fervor, so it was hard not to pay attention by the middle of the set. Sigur Ros combines the beauty and purity of an orchestra with indie flare. I thought it would be the perfect music for a silent student film, and considering our proximity at the time to Columbia College, the band’s live set may end up as one. Though Sigur Ros started quiet, it soon swelled like a sonic tidal wave just waiting to crest. When the wave came crashing down over the South side of Grant Park, it collapsed with brass bursts and guitar delay, absorbing into the muddy grounds. It is important to mention that they had one of the best accompanying video screens, with quick cuts and cool visuals.
At The Drive-In – Red Bull Soundstage – 6:00
TB: With performers like Cedric Bixler Zavala, you never know what you’re going to get. As the lead singer for At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta, live sets tend to reflect his mood. Sunday, Bixler Zavala seemed to be in a good mood, strutting on stage with the rest of his newly reunited band, singing along to Danzig’s “Mother” which was playing over the PA.
“Good morning,” he said. “We are Latin Danzig!” The band blasted into “Arcarsenal,” the lead-off track to the band’s biggest album. Throughout the ferocious set, Bixler Zavala moved, shook and vaulted himself around the stage, not as much as he did in his heyday, but it was enough to satiate the hungry crowd.
While a few in the crowd grumbled that guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez seemed vacant or subdued, it’s important to remember that it’s been more than 10 years since At The Drive-In broke up, and Rodriguez-Lopez is nearly 40 years old.
Nobody criticizes Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder for not swinging from the rooftops during his sets any more.
It’s just that At The Drive-In hasn’t been playing for over a decade, so some fans or critiques expected that the group would emerge from this time capsule without aging. But don’t tell that to the bands two singers, Bixler-Zavala and Jim Ward. Ward sounded as if no time had passed, howling raspy high notes with ease. Bixler-Zavala sang more than screamed, after honing his chops with TMV since 2002, but his voice was not without the gusto he’s known for when at his best. He had fun with the crowd, teasing them for their lack of understanding of his Spanish references, and making light of the several technical difficulties experienced by bass player Paul Hinojos.
Despite all of the distractions, old and new fans waiting years for this moment were not disappointed. The band closed its set with a blistering version of “One-Armed Scissor” and walked off stage unceremoniously ten minutes early, proving that punk still lives, it’s just a little older.
Florence and the Machine – Bud Light Stage – 6:15
AH: Did Florence Welch come to us from another land? Her dramatic performance made her seem like a Queen of The Woods; she danced across the stage, commanded the audience to get on each others’ shoulders, and held a competition for the best PDA session. And did I mention her voice? Welch’s voice is a separate entity. It is its own being. Seeing her in a billowing dress, arms spread wide, belting into the microphone, is a picture I won’t soon forget.
Childish Gambino – Google Play Stage – 8:45
AH: My love for Donald Glover runs deep. I first saw him as Troy on Community, and then discovered that he’s also a rapper with a kind of weird voice, fancy wordplay, and a live band. The crowd waved glow sticks and jumped around as Glover paced the stage. His performance was the perfect way to end my weekend at Lollapalooza.
Jack White – Red Bull Soundstage – 8:15
TB: Jack White is just one man, and right now he’s playing solo after releasing his first record in his name. But he’s far from alone. At the start of his festival closing set, White walked on stage, standing out from his well-dressed backing band of men in simple, all black clothes. The stage set-up was simple yet powerful, as everything onstage was bathed in blue light, keeping with White’s well known affinity for color-scheme. After a quick instrumental jam, the group tore into a ferocious “Sixteen Saltines” off of the new album. His voice was raw and perfect, and his guitar was unbelievably powerful. But above all, this set was loud. My ears would punish me for days after the set, ringing with the faint words “it was worth it.”
Before the half-way mark of the set, Jack White brought a back-up singer to share vocal duties on “Love Interruption.” While the two sang, stage hands, also dressed to the nines, moved gear about frantically behind them. As they finished the song, his other backing band of all women swapped places with the men. White’s men, an impressive backing band with impressive resumes, were dressed like suave, 1920’s gangsters. At first glance, White’s women looked like vintage porcelain dolls. Once they started playing, I realized they were anything but fragile. The drummer was relentless, playing crazy fast as the long sleeves of her kimono like dress flailed about.
After a quick interlude, they busted into “Blue Blood Blues” from one of White’s other bands, The Dead Weather. This line-up would also perform the two biggest hits of the night, “Steady As She Goes” by The Raconteurs, and the set closer “Seven Nation Army,” White’s biggest song of all time from his early days with The White Stripes. The massive crowd could barely wait for this one, chanting the famous bass line long before the show even started, and again before the encore.
When the song finally started, White egged them on, inviting them to take part in his crazy, vaudeville infused, barn-burner of a set. Leaving the stage, White thanked the crowd, and then the hearing impaired interpreter, signing “Thank you” to her. “Get home safe, go home to your mothers and fathers or whatever you have,” he said after he and both his bands took a bow that ended both the set, and the 21st installment of Lollapalooza.