Lollapalooza vs. Mother Nature
Stormy weather can't stop the music
08/08/2012 10:00 PM
Forget Black Sabbath, The Black Keys, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White, and the hundred or so other acts that played to packed Grant Park crowds this weekend: the weather was the real star of Lollapalooza 2012.
It lived in predictions amongst screaming, worried college kids huddled next to Buckingham Fountain railings on Friday night; dominated social media feeds and on-site news broadcasts as the massive storm shook the city on early Saturday afternoon; and peppered stage banter pumped before muddied masses post-storm Saturday and Sunday.
The weather tested both the city and event organizers’ disaster preparedness, but also the mettle of festival-goers who shelled out up to triple-digit prices only to see some of their favorite bands canceled when the fest was temporarily suspended due to Saturday’s storm. Luckily, both sects survived relatively unscathed. The evacuated park was repopulated by 6 p.m., sets were shuffled, and the city granted the fest permission to extend 45 minutes, allowing acts to play beyond the city’s 10 p.m. noise curfew.
Though a troublemaker, Mother Nature played a prime role in setting the mood for the weekend’s best shakers (and provided requisite mud for attendees to wallow in and use as covering, of course).
Friday temperatures inched skyward, adding appropriate sizzle to the day’s standout set by Cincinnati, Ohio’s The Afghan Whigs.
Reunited after a decade-plus hiatus, the grunge-era anomalies heated-up the south-side main-stage that afternoon with their sexy and gritty post-punk and classic soul amalgam. Singer Greg Dulli’s sandpaper voice has refined with age, allowing him to become a consummate frontman who is equal parts Paul Westerberg and Marvin Gaye.
Reunion successes continued that evening as Black Sabbath powered through hits spanning their early years. Guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler were on fire, proving that age can’t slow heavy metal. Unless you’re Ozzy Osbourne. The metal god-turned-reality-show-star started strong, but he slowed vocally and energetically as the evening progressed. It was a minor, expected turn in an otherwise flawless set.
Post-storm calm and cool on Saturday evening provided an exquisite backdrop for Twin Shadow’s electric performance.
Charismatic George Lewis, Jr. and backing band perfectly channeled early Prince, The Smiths, and the best Romantic-era bands from the 1980s on a small, smoky side stage tucked away in a wooded area on the fest’s west side. It was an epic, dichotomous display — grand and intimate; proud and sincere — that bested their performance at last year’s Pitchfork Music Festival tenfold.
Sunday’s light, picture perfect demeanor worked its way into everyone, from the headband-wearing, neon-garbed, muddied masses to the performers.
A reunited At the Drive-In showed that a 10-year break has done nothing to slow them.
Seemingly dwarfed by the large south-side main-stage that housed their afternoon set, the post-punk legends delivered a manic, tight, blasting set that encompassed their entire catalog. The performance was plagued by technical difficulties, but vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala turned lemons to lemonade, using the downtime to crack oddball non sequiturs, jokes at the audience’s expense, random tidbits about Latino culture, and more. It was hilarious. Should Bixler–Zavala’s current job fronting The Mars Volta (with At the Drive-In guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez) fall through, the man needs to find a late-night talk show to host. Pronto.
Photos by MAX RASCHE/OurVinyl.com