With the roads surrounding Grant Park re-opened and only a hint of exhaustion and soreness remaining, it’s time to reflect on the glorified chaos that was Lollapalooza 2011. The line-up for the 20th anniversary of the festival was impressive, unfortunately however, it was impossible to see all of the bands who rolled into Chicago. Fortunately, the bands I was able to see made up for the disappointment of having to make such difficult decisions when mapping out a daily schedule. I’ve included some highlights after the jump.
Two Door Cinema Club
Playing a mid-day set in the blazing Midwestern heat lead singer Alex Trimble joked, “Irish people aren’t supposed be in this kind of heat, and neither are gingers, so I’m dying up here.” Two Doors set however, couldn’t have been better suited for the heat of a summer festival. Playing such hits as “Something Good Can Work” and “I Can Talk,” the crowd soaked up the music, happily cheered, and sang along seeming to forget about the scorching temperature.
There are plenty of talented British MC’s today (i.e. Example, Dizzee Rascal, Plan B, Wretch 32 etc.) however, very few have been able to break into the mainstream music scene in North America. Tinie Tempah however, is the exception, not one but two of his singles have surfaced in the Billboard Hot 100. During Lollapalooza his presence within North America was apparent, as he brought out a respectable crowd to the Google+ stage. After Tinie Tempah’s crew hyped up the crowd by launching swag into the air Tinie Tempah burst on stage. The audience was treated with an exceptionally powerful presentation of the rhymes and beats which make-up his 2011 Mercury Music Prize nominated album, Disc-Overy. If Tinie Tempah’s performance at Lollapalooza is an accurate representation of his skill and love of performing, North America should get ready to fully embrace many more tunes from him.
Coldplay topped off Friday evening with a spectacular show, and for anyone who has seen them perform live before they know to expect nothing less from these Brits. The band performed songs from all of their albums, including their yet to be released LP and provided an extraordinary laser show which lit up the skyline. Chris Martin ran around stage working the crowd, checking in every so often making sure everyone was having a great time, and not surprisingly he repeatedly received a positive response. With these aspects combined Coldplay’s set captivated the audience. While I couldn’t actually see any of the band members without the help of the jumbo tron from the spot in which I was standing, Coldplay still provided me with one of the highlights of the festival.
Festivals are a great way to discover and listen to new musicians. The ability to wander around from stage to stage and sample various artists is one aspect which I absolutely love about Lollapalooza and festivals in general. Early Saturday afternoon I moved with ease over to the Google+ stage as Grant Park was quite empty before 1:00. At the stage I was able to catch the last half of Julia Easterlin’s set which was absolutely stunning. The recent Berklee College of Music graduate was backed by drummers and a bassist, while she took command of her loop machine. Easterlin provided the crowd with original material as well as a cover, all of which were enhanced by her ability to layer her vocals providing a richer sound to the songs. Easterlin’s performance was a definite highlight of Lollapalooza 2011.
I’ve been a fan of An Horse for quite some time however, I had never seen them live and wondered if they could provide the stage presence required at a festival. After seeing them perform the answer is clear, even with two band members An Horse can command a stage. The band was able to provide a large sound which demanded the attention of the crowd. The set was made even more enjoyable through Kate and Damon’s ability to seamlessly work together, demonstrated through their unique harmonizing approach and interaction with audience. Highlights of the performance included “Brains on A Table” and “Horizons.”
Seeing Friendly Fires live was for me the best part of Lollapalooza 2011. The back catalogue of the band is undeniably danceable, when paired with the live energy of the Friendly Fires in a festival setting the result is magnificent. While some may consider their antics gimmicky, I consider them to be endearing. Lead singer Ed McFarlane flawlessly danced around stage and into the audience without missing a single note or lyric. Backed by guitarist Edd Gibson, drummer Jack Savage, a bassist, and a significant horn section, Friendly Fires had the crowd engrossed in their performance. Highlights of the set included “Jump in the Pool” and “Hawaiian Air.”