The first day of Lollapalooza is on the books. The Chicago Sun-Times has seven writers on the grounds of the annual music fest: Music writer Mark Guarino (MG), digital editor Brandon Wall (BW), Sun-Times reporters Tina Sfondeles (TS), Rummana Hussain (RG), Adrienne Samuels Gibbs (ASG), Mike Lansu (ML) and Sun-Times intern Veronica DeStefano (VS). Our photographers Alex Wroblewski and Ashlee Rezin are capturing the images each day.
It’s a tradition
Friday? Obviously it rained.
All things considered, Friday’s attendees got lucky. The forecast called for possible hail and lightning and all they got was a 20 minute shower, certainly nothing on the scale of the storm that forced a festival evacuation in 2012. —BW
An Irish band that some say is the next U2, performed Friday. a crowd of a few thousand gathered, many waving the flag of Ireland while also rocking out to the cheery yet somber music. The band played a healthy set- around 1.5 hours – to a crowd that frequently called them heroes. it wasn’t unusual to see more tears than sweat. Plus, everyone knows that none beat Kodaline when it comes to singalongs and lovely harmonies and during Lolla they didn’t dissappoint. The tour de force was the last song of the set, “All I Want,” the tune that was featured in this year’s teen hit “The Fault in Our Stars” and is an instant tear jerker. As the crowd joined hands and swayed to the song, I got chills. Everyone says they are the ones to watch. I’m glad I listened.- ASG
Giant afternoon crowd at Iggy Azalea’s set which is super, super bass heavy. Also a lot of teenagers running around. #lolla
— Tina Sfondeles (@TinaSfon) August 1, 2014
Oh, Perry’s Stage. It’s the place where young teens come to dance all day, usually in mud pits. For some reason the rain did not create mudpits at the stage, which I think is a bit bigger than past years. I tried to make my way to the middle of the crowd but was inundated by teenagers swinging past me, ramming into me and running to the front. Seriously this happened several times. There were also many, many young fans passed out (at 4 p.m. mind you). But once Iggy took the stage, the inebriated crowd actually listened. Backup dancers and all, Iggy put on a good show. The bass was pounding and fans were dancing. It was a good time, if you have the patience to deal with young, intoxicated and (obnoxious) young partiers. —TS
Iggy Azalea performed on Perry’s Stage, the premiere stage for the acts targeted at the young trendy crowd. She went on just as the rain began to taper off a bit, and her crowd was a mix off those who were there because they wanted to rest beneath trees and those there who actually knew something other than “Fancy.” Her stage presence was lackluster and her performance was marred (in my perspective) by several groups of fighting fans. Nothing major, but annoying enough to cause people to walk away. — ASG
Interpol’s lead singer Paul Banks was very smiley during his Friday set. Perhaps because the band had disappeared for a bit and was back in action with a new album. “Slow Hands,” one of their biggest hits, was their last tune. They’re a bit moody for sunshine but fans seemed to enjoy the band’s enthusiasm, and the fact that they seemed willing and eager to play their early hits. —TS
Lucius and Lorde made references to the crazy props people held up in the crowd. Naked, blow-up dolls were among the crudest. A sign with Waldo’s face on it and “Wanted” above his head was a clever one. Country flags were popular, with some Costa Rican men holding a Costa Rican flag with “Free Costa Rican Kisses” scrawled across it. GoPro cameras on ‘selfie sticks’ were also popular for people trying to get the scene, the show and themselves on tape. —VS
Bombay Bicycle Club
The light rain that rinsed down [Note: “Rinse Me Down”] the Friday afternoon crowd didn’t damper the spirits of Bombay Bicycle Club fans. The six-piece band from Crouch End, England, kept the crowd clapping along to its guitar-fronted grooves. UK songwriter Liz Lawrence joined the band on two songs. — ML
Irish blues singer Hozier brought his brand of toe-tapping dad rock for an afternoon set at the Palladia stage. Passersby stopped and watched the show behind the Petrillo band shell’s flower pots, adding to the unexpectedly large crowd that gathered to watch the five piece. The only downside was the high number of cigar smokers and PDA on the outskirts of the crowd. Young frontman Andrew Hozier-Byrne, 24, released his first single, “Take Me To Church,” in 2013. This year, he released two more singles, “Arsonist’s Lullabye” and “Sedated.” — ML
— Mike Bruno (@MikeBruno808) August 1, 2014
A small but diverse crowd gathered at The Grove stage to watch British funk / soul band Blood Orange. The quiet crowd erupted the first time the saxophone played, and many began dancing for “You’re Not Good Enough,” the hit single of 2013’s Cupid’s Delux. Frontman Dev Hines, 28, formerly of Lightspeed Champion, has also worked with Florence the Machine and The Chemicals Brothers. The singer / producer’s diverse background helped keep the crowd dancing, young or old. — ML
If you’ve never seen Lorde live, you probably wonder what the 17-year-old phenom is all about. Will she sound good live? What’s her stage presence? The New Zealand teen wowed an audience of thousands with her killer robotic dance moves, hair flips and oh yeah, a very strong live voice. She had a double track going for most of her songs, but sang over it, strongly and with a lot of confidence. She stopped to talk to the audience frequently, first because she was having some earphone issues, then to constantly thank the very large crowd for coming to see her. She sat down on the stage before singing “Ribs,” a song she said helped her feel better about growing old (cough, even though she is oh so young). She thanked the crowd, calling them a crowd bigger than her whole home town, her high school and the airport. It was a sweet moment for a singer on the rise and the crowd was very receptive, belting out all the lyrics. She also had an interesting fashion choice: black overalls with a black and white Calvin Klein sports bras. It was a stark difference from teens in the audience, who largely wore midriffs and barely there shorts. Hmm…perhaps yet another statement for the wise beyond her years singer. —TS
Lorde was hit or miss in her presentation and at times it was difficult to discern if fans were making fun of her or if they genuinely appreciated her spastic, jerky dance movments. One parent in the crowd even asked, “Is she ok?” Dance aside, Lorde’s fans were there for her. “Royals” of course, was a major hit. And “Team'” elicited chuckles from kids who are also over being told to put there hands up in the air, but it’s a concert, so what the heck else can they do? That slight confusion aside, she gave new life and meaningto big-haired, bushy brown waves of un-dyed hair which many girls adorned simply with a crown of plastic flowers (the new look, according to May’s Allure magazine.) Half tops and highwaisted denim shorts roundedout the look of the ladies who Lorde. —ASG
English indie rockers Arctic Monkeys closed the night on the Bud Light stage. The large crowd erupted when the band took the stage and began playing “Crawling Back To You.” The four piece continued its guitar-heavy rock as the phrase “#Rock Enroll” lit up the windows of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Building in the background. Frontman Alex Turner, 28, had most of the crowd quietly singing along to the band’s recent singles, but didn’t really get the crowd moving until the sixth song, “Dancing Shoes.” — ML
— Tina Sfondeles (@TinaSfon) August 2, 2014
Rihanna showed up. That was the big news of the night! And not a total surprise. Rumors had been circulating since last week. Well, it happened and the crowd freaked out. A girl behind me kept screaming, “Oh my God! I can’t believe it!.” And then there were a lot of “wooooos.” Rihanna, dressed in a sparkly dress with a black scarf over and a black ‘20s looking headband first joined Eminem on “Love the Way You Lie,” followed by “Monster” and “Stan.” I don’t think fans expected a whole three songs from the duo, but they were nothing but pleased. And don’t think the show was just about the pop princess. Eminem played all of his hits. It was like a timeline of his artistic life, full of energy. Also, a lot of gunshot noises at the end of songs that made everyone jump. —TS
Eminem has scared me twice with gunshot bangs after songs. #lolla
— Tina Sfondeles (@TinaSfon) August 2, 2014
https://twitter.com/rummanahussain/status/495304300483325952 A modest audience turned up for Warpaint, whose ethereal voices soared over the Lake Shore stage and swirled into the sky. The Los Angeles band may have made a listener “sad” with their haunting lyrics but ultimately, they offer hope. As their hit professes, “Love is to die, love is to not die. Love is to dance.” https://twitter.com/rummanahussain/status/495367147497873408
— Rummana Hussain (@rummanahussain) August 2, 2014
Many flocked early Friday evening to watch Lorde, the young New Zealand phenom who even moved the Boss to break out into a cover of her popular hit “Royals.” But there were middling crowds gathering in pockets far from the wild-haired teen. Some of those who opted out hung out at the Samsung Galaxy stage to see the Broken Bells, which is one-part James Mercer– the lead singer of The Shins–and one-part Brian Burton, aka. Danger Mouse. Granted, some in the audience were angling for a good place to watch Eminem. But they got a solid show by the boys who belted out their lesser known tunes such as “Vaporize” with as much passion as their well-known songs, “The High Road” and “Holding on for Life.” The mellow, laid back vibe got even playful before the hour long set’s end when three large pink balls resembling the orbs from the band’s self titled album were unleashed into the swaying mass.
— Rummana Hussain (@rummanahussain) August 2, 2014
When Eminem took the stage in 2011, vocal tracks and a no-name back up singer took Rihanna’s place when the Detroit rapper sang “Love the Way You Lie.” This year, RiRi surprised the Lolla audience by turning up for the 2010 song as well as the duo’s more recent “The Monster.” Rihanna even stood in for Dido’s hook for “Stan,” much to the pleasure of everyone watching. Thanks to social media, at least a few people (me included) ran halfway across Grant Park when they heard Rihanna was paying a visit. Sorry Arctic Monkeys. —RH
Rebecca Blackmore sat alone on a blanket near the baseball fields, all the way in the back at Perry’s Stage. She sat there calmly, perhaps wisely to watch Iggy Azalea’s set. “I was pretty far up there in the crowd and this girl threw up right next to me. And she looked really young,” Blackmore, 26, of Pilsen said. “I was just thinking she needs to get out of here. So after that I thought, well I’m going to go back and you guys have fun.” Blackmore deserted her friends at Iggy’s set, but was very zen about it. “I can hear just fine from here,” Blackmore said. —TS Javier, Pedro and Leslie Ruiz walked near Buckingham Fountain after watching Irish artist Hozier. They’re originally from Chile and came to Lollapalooza to support a fellow Chilean artist. “We came today because a friend of mine is a drummer for Francisca Valenzuela,” Leslie Ruiz, of Hyde Park said. The family, including 8-month-old Pedro were a bit miffed to realize they’d missed all of the kids activities, which ran until about 4 p.m. But they planned to try to stay up late. “We’ll see if he can stay up long enough to watch Eminem,” Javier Ruiz said. —TS
The rain made Lolla better. It was hot as blazes before the downpour, and security personnel were going bonkers trying to coordinate which of three levels of security would be the ones to remove passed out person a or passed out person b. The rain put a chill on all that, bringing out a breeze that carried through to Eminem’s performance. And all those people who wore wellies or cowboy boots to the shindig? Right on. — ASG The thing about inebriated concertgoers is they can sometimes be nuisances as the one who threw up on the shoe of a young man new to the city. But sometimes, the overserved can be endearing, like the earnest young woman who told a reporter how she bravely stuck her hand down a Porta Potty after her iPhone fell in, evoking the infamous toilet scene in “Trainspotting.” And sometimes, a drunken reveler can be downright sweet, like the hiccupping young man with the brogue and Irish flag who was grateful when he was told he was not at the stage he thought he was: “Thanks, Love.” How polite! – RH Flower crown count: As expected, flower crowns were everywhere. Kimonos were also a big hit, with Eminem’s surprise guest, Rihanna, also wearing one. Overalls are still on the up-and-coming with Lolla, but likely will see major traction next year. We lost count of most things after about 5 p.m. Our approximate totals: Flower crowns: 161 Kimonos: 61 Overalls: 46 —VS Flower Power. Part Two. Floral halos rested atop the head of countless young women at Lolla last year and apparently, many got the memo to recycle their looks this summer. The petal-friendly headgear was spotted on a woman every few seconds on Friday. Not seen (at least from the eyes of this astute reporter) was a hipster man sporting posies in his ZZTopesque beard. Oh well. There’s still two more days. Fingers crossed. —RH
— Rummana Hussain (@rummanahussain) August 2, 2014
My Lolla posse and I arrived at the gate, which was really a strange opening in some barricades feeding us towards the Congress entrance, around 11:30. The entrance process was fairly quick and only took us around 7 minutes. (embed code for tweet below)
— Veronica DeStefano (@Veroniconda_18) August 1, 2014
Like most years, they made you hold up your wrist as you began the walk to the actual bag check and scan area. They were going through bags and wallets, and the spoils of unexperienced Lolla goers were shown in the Jimmy Johns sandwich, half-filled Gatorade bottles and enough aerosol sunscreen containers to restock a Walgreens shelf. After bag check, they patted people down. Females were directed to women volunteers for this, with the majority of the volunteers being female. They even made sure to pat in my cleavage, just in case girls were hiding things in their bandeaus. You then went to scan your wristbands and went through the turnstiles into the park. People doing ID checks and giving out alcohol wristbands were just beyond the turnstiles. — VD
It wasn’t the smoothest entrance for festivalgoers on day one. It was pouring cats and dogs by about 3 p.m. as fans waited in a giant line to get through security. Security seriously scrutinized young festivalgoers and their Camelbaks. I watched security actually open them up, sniff them and pour them out if they were suspected alcohol. This is the real deal, this year, ladies and gentleman. Also, they opened all Gatorade bottles and sniffed them too! Word to the wise: alcohol smells. Don’t try to sneak it in. Besides the long security line and strict no-alcohol policy, several hundred festivalgoers were denied entrance when their fresh new wristbands flashed red. It happened to me. I was told to go into the “ticket help” table, which was actually a line spanning several blocks. For some reason people were very calm about waiting in this snaking line in the pouring rain. We weren’t given an explanation of what happened, just a C3 employee re-scanning our wristbands and sending us to a station to try again. I was told it won’t happen again tomorrow. My theory: someone forgot to activate a large number of wristbands. Oops. Total time to get in: 60 minutes (exactly) — TS
The festival was trying their hardest to encourage the Lolla Cashless concept with a tent by Buckingham fountain to help people register their bands. In the merch tent, half the registers took Lolla Cashless while the others did regular cash and credit/debit. We went to merch first and there were already a couple iPads for the Cashless system down. My wristband scanned right away and I typed in my pin and I was off with a new crop top.
— Veronica DeStefano (@Veroniconda_18) August 1, 2014
But, it took my friend about 3 minutes to go through the process when she was buying her food with the wristband because the machine wasn’t scanning her band for awhile. Many people in lines for food switched to cash money when they saw other people struggling. — VD
In case you’re creating a budget for your weekend, you should know the cost of things at Lollapalooza. A 12-ounce can of Budweiser costs $6, and a 16-ounce will cost you $8. There are coozies for sale for $3. Those tend to go fast as the weekend goes on and this year’s pay homage to Lollapalooza’s 10 years in town. Also, a lot of people are buying giant bottles of wine in a plastic bottle for $25. And there’s a craft beer tent that will cost you $9 for such “craft” beers as 312 and Green Line. —TS
With an ominous forecast hinting of a mad downpour and pelting hail, for a moment, it appeared as if there was a possibility Lollapalooza would have to suspend the raucous shows and close the pearly gates for the throngs of believers late Friday afternoon. But as the crowd whipped opened the umbrellas, threw on makeshift rain coats out of Hefty bags or just said, “Screw it” and got soaked, the rain gods showed some mercy. The clouds quickly parted, the bands forged ahead and almost everyone forgot 2012 — when the crowds were evacuated for stormy and dangerous weather conditions. If anything dampened the mood of festival-goers, it was minor computer glitches that kept some from entering Grant Park later than they would have liked. –RH
Standing room only
I cannot begin to describe how excited I was to see Chvrches. I left Interpol with plenty of time to make the trek across Grant Park. I knew I wouldn’t get a prime seat, but I was hoping to at least see the band.
No such luck. This was my view as I turned the corner –
This year, the Samsung sponsorship left iPhone users light in the wallet because they had to pay $5 for whenever they wanted their phone charged, but Samsung Galaxy, Note, etc. users could get a fully charged battery for free to replace their Instagram- and Snapchat-zapped one. If you rented a locker, you had unlimited access to the phone charging.
I have AT&T and I went to having great LTE service to nothing for hours around 3 p.m. ish. It would sort of come back for me to receive some messages but then it would be gone before I could send any out. My friend with Verizon had pretty consistent coverage the entire time. —VS
“Find your friends”
Listen. With tens of thousands of people crammed into Grant Park and the accompanying terrible cell phone service, sometimes you need to keep it old school when it comes to finding your friends. People have fashioned all sorts of inane signs to draw attention. Among those spotted Friday were…
Game of Thrones’ Hodor (see photo)
A disembodied Derrick Rose head
A Christmas tree and stocking
Too many lightsabers to count
Blue Cross Building lights up
As usual, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois took advantage of the Lolla crowds to deliver a message: get health insurance.
In case you’re wondering, this is a manual effort. A designer draws a plan up by hand, then electricians open and close the shades to carve out the sign. It takes about 10-15 minutes per floor. The YouTube video below explains how they do it.
Escaping Grant Park is always an adventure, for some more so than others. Chicago’s overnight crime observers heard all sorts of interesting chatter on the police scanners.