Storms subsided and the sun returned... though mud remained an issue on the third and final day of Lollapalooza 2012, a Sunday that saw performances by Jack White, Sigur Rós, Florence & The Machine, The Gaslight Anthem and many, more...
Upon arriving downtown on Sunday, it definitely felt like we were experiencing the largest crowds of the entire sold out, three day festival.
As I ventured from Monroe south to Balbo to enter Hutchinson Field, the stench from Saturday's heavy rainfall and resulting swampy conditions was strong. Crews clearly worked overnight putting down kitty litter and plywood to soak up some of the standing water and mud near the entrances to the park which helped.
But there was no helping the muddy conditions that permeated festival grounds on the south end making for a long afternoon in front of the Red Bull Soundstage, one of the festival's two main stages.
Conditions near Perry's stage were also a bit muddy though concertgoers there actually seemed to seek that out dancing in the mud and walking around covered in it for most of the afternoon.
Sunday's crowd was also the most drunk and obnoxious of the weekend, especially as I stood waiting for Jack White's headlining set where I saw multiple fights (the first that I really saw all weekend).
One final, random question about hipster fashion: When did "Mom shorts" reenter the collective fashion chic? I'm by no means Calvin Klein but this is just isn't a good look. I felt like I was attending Lollapalooza '85 at times. I blame Jessica Simpson... But I digress...
Onto the music...
White Rabbits - Following Jane's Addiction's aftershow Saturday night at the Aragon Ballroom, I was moving a bit slow on Sunday and got my latest start at the festival of the weekend... Which is a shame because I walked up about halfway through White Rabbits' set and really liked what I heard. As I entered the festival from Monroe St., I could hear the trademark drum beat of "Percussion Gun." The band has a cool sound that seems to sort of put a psychadelic spin on a slightly toned down version of Queens of the Stone Age and I need to get more familiar with them.
Imaginary Cities - I was at about Buckingham Fountain heading north to catch Gary Clark, Jr.'s set at Petrillo Bandshell when I was lured by the crunchy guitar of Rusty Matyas and the sugary sweet vocals of Marti Sarbit to the BMI stage. I was completely unfamiliar with the band as I walked up and it turns out the song that piqued my interest was "Temporary Resident." It had kind of a Pixies vibe and I really enjoyed it.
Gary Clark, Jr. - This was definitely the biggest crowd that I personally experienced at Petrillo Bandshell all weekend. Clark mixes blues and old school rock and roll for a raucous sound that really heats up his live sets. "Give it Up" was definitely heavier on the rock element with an emphasis on soulful vocals while "Please Come Home" focused on a rousing guitar solo. "Please Come Home" is drenched in the blues and watching the set at Petrillo Bandshell, for a moment it felt like I was back at Chicago Blues Fest.
Sigur Rós - Ethereal is the word I keep hearing used to describe Sigur Rós and it fits. The Icelandic band moved deftly between lush soundscapes and seering bursts of guitar. "Olsen Olsen" is a great example of the way the band can meld such extremes across a song. It showcased Jón Þór "Jónsi" Birgisson moving from gorgeous vocals to a guitar solo he pulled off with help from what appeared to be a violin bow.
The Sheepdogs - Ignore the fact that this band is Canadian because they're making some fine southern rock and I could hear everything from the grinding rock of the Drive-By Truckers to the meandering guitar of the Allman Brothers or the Grateful Dead in their music on Sunday... plus vocalist Ewan Currie reminds me a bit of Daryl Hall. Scheduled for a September 4th release, the band's self-titled, major label debut is produced by Patrick Carney of the Black Keys and if their live show was any indication, will most certainly be worth checking out.
The Gaslight Anthem - This was pop/punk at its finest (with maybe a small hint of emo). The crowd clapped along going fairly crazy for the impassioned vocals of "The '59 Sound." The band's most recent album, Handwritten, was released at the end of July and from it Sunday came "Too Much Blood." The song definitely features more of a rock sound than punk and on it, the New Jersey band definitely sounds like they may have been paying a bit of attention to fellow Garden Stater Bruce Springsteen. Weaving in a bit of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "The Backseat," with lyrics like "You know the summer always brought it," was an appropriate way for the band to close out a sunny, Sunday, summer afternoon on the Google Play stage at Lollapalooza.
At the Drive-In - One of only a small number of reunion shows the band has staged, they were in top form on Sunday at Lollapalooza, having lost none of the intensity that's always marked their live sets.
Vocalist Cedric Bixlar Zavala is easily the best frontman that I saw all weekend. During a five or so minute lull where the band dealt with technical difficulties, Zavala kept things light cracking wise and making jokes about everything from Shaggy to Deicide (though his impersonation of Shaggy on "Boombastic" was actually frighteningly good).
Zavala channeled Iggy Pop as he jumped from amps and drum risers throughout the set and the band sounded great. "One Armed Scissor" closed the show but the highlight for me was "Enfilade." The band really stretched the song out (Zavala played what appeared to be some combination of a keyboard with a talk-box effect). The pulsing bassline and searing guitar on "Enfilade" was just ridiculous and with the possible exception of Black Sabbath on Friday night, At the Drive-In rocked harder than anything I saw all weekend.
Jack White - The area in front of the stage took longer to fill up than it did in advance of Black Sabbath on Friday or Red Hot Chili Peppers on Saturday (quite possibly due to the large amount of mud) though it ultimately ended up just as packed as it was the rest of the weekend.
Despite his involvement over the years with a number of bands, I've never seen Jack White live so I was looking forward to his set.
Ever the eccentric, he performed Sunday night with two band lineups: an all male lineup (called Los Buzzardos) for the first half and an all female lineup (called The Peacocks) for the second half/encore.
All in all, both bands were great (as should be expected of a Jack White backing band). My favorite members of each band respectively were Daru Jones (a powerhouse drummer) and Ruby Amanfu (a Grammy nominated artist based in Nashville who's sultry backing vocals joined with White's on "Love Interruption").
White culled from just about all of his many musical guises opening with "Sixteen Saltines" from his recently released solo album Blunderbuss, hitting as well on White Stripes material in "Black Math," Raconteurs tracks like "Top Yourself" as well as the Dead Weather song "Blue Blood Blues."
It was interesting to watch early how White changed up several of the more well-known White Stripes tracks that he played. For instance, "Hotel Yorba" was less rollicking, opting instead to feature the song's country roots. And with The Peacocks providing pedal steel and violin, the song sounded like a true country song. Before that, "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" featured backing by Los Buzzardos and a reliance on duelling pianos instead of crunchy garage rock riffs.
But it was during White's encore that I saw the crowd go as crazy as any all weekend. Getting things rolling with The Raconteurs hit "Steady as she Goes," White picked up the pace maintaining the momentum as he launched into more traditional versions of White Stripes hits like "The Hardest Button to Button" before closing with "Seven Nation Army."
Tags: At the Drive-In, Cedric Bixlar Zavala, Daru Jones, Ewan Currie, Florence and The Machine, Gary Clark Jr., Imaginary Cities, Jack White, Jón Þór "Jónsi" Birgisson, Lollapalooza, Los Buzzardos, Marti Sarbit, Of Monsters & Men, Ruby Amanfu, Rusty Matyas, Sigur Ros, The Dead Weather, The Gaslight Anthem, The Peacocks, The Raconteurs, The Sheepdogs, White Rabbits, White Stripes