Lollapalooza 2013: Day two recap

Although it was beset by last-minute cancellations from big-name artists, day two of Lollapalooza made the most of perfect weather and featured spectacular performances. Fans even bore witness to a little bit of history Saturday, as headlining act The Postal Service played what frontman Ben Gibbard claimed would be the group’s second to last appearance ever.

The Postal Service delivered a powerful 90-minute set that covered all their hits and essentials.  Meanwhile, across the park, Mumford and Sons’ set was punctuated by a brilliant fireworks display behind the Red Bull Sound Select stage, mesmerizing the field full of onlookers.  It was a great way to cap a day filled with great music and a little bit of confusion.

In the morning, I awoke to unfortunate news.  According to several music blogs, the experimental hip-hop group Death Grips failed to show up to their aftershow Friday night at the Bottom Lounge, and early reports suggested they would not be playing Lolla as scheduled Saturday night.  This came a day after rapper Azealia Banks pulled out from her headlining set, also on Saturday, due to illness.  Banks’ cancellation was not a big setback for me, but for Death Grips, a band known as much for their controversy as their music, this was somehow unsurprising yet still disappointing.  They were definitely high on my list of bands to see, with their live shows known for being raw and visceral.  Fans at the ill-fated Bottom Lounge reacted with anger, apparently trashing their drum kit, despite being given refunds.  Olympic snowboarder Sean White’s band Bad Things closed out The Grove stage in their stead.

Besides these minor setbacks, Saturday at Lollapalooza was a perfect day, with gorgeous sunny weather and temperatures in the 70s.  Early acts like Planet Hemp and Wild Cub played to sun-soaked crowds, while electronic DJ GRiZ turned things up at Perry’s in the afternoon (look out for my interview with GRiZ in the next day or two).  Local Natives returned for their second Lolla performance in two years, playing hits off their newest LP “Hummingbird,” as well as old favorites from their widely acclaimed debut “Gorilla Manor.”  Local Natives’ sound is best described as jaunty and playful, with songs that inspire movement through relentless drumming and call-and-response lyrics. I caught their set two years ago as well, and I’m happy to report they are still a joy to see.

The late afternoon and early evening schedule was mixed up a little, due to the aforementioned cancellations. This meant Haim was moved ahead of psychedelic rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra, who dazzled the crowd with hits old and new. Haim, a band comprised of three sisters, delivered a high-powered set of full-throttle rock ‘n roll.  Their music incorporates bluesy riffs interspersed with powerful beats, and they were just as entertaining between songs (someone threw a bra on stage at one point, eliciting priceless reactions from the trio).

One thing that has become an issue throughout my weekend at Lolla is the sheer size of Grant Park, which often acts as a limiting factor in my quest to see as much as possible. A brisk walk from one end of the park to the other will take a good 10 or 15 minutes, and also involves wading through large crowds. Many times, I wished I had a scooter or could hitch a ride on a paramedic golf cart. This has made it impossible to deliver the sort of coverage that I did for Pitchfork, where I saw more than half of all the bands there. Alas, such is the life of a lowly journalist with only two good legs.

Stay tuned for more excitement and the final recap of the weekend, plus a special interview with electronic artist GRiZ.