Sunday, August 9
Ra Ra Riot
As expected, Sunday’s heat topped well into the 90s, but that wasn’t about to impede Lollapalooza’s crowds. Before Ra Ra Riot’s set in the early afternoon, audience members were vying for the tiny sliver of shade directly in front of the Chicago 2016 Stage.
There was a definite question as to whether Ra Ra Riot’s intricate arrangements, which are better suited to a smaller venue, could translate well in an outdoor festival. The answer was determined in the first half of the set when Gabriel Duquette’s drums and Mathieu Santos’ bass completely drowned out cellist Alexandra Lawn’s and violinist Rebecca Zeller’s contributions.
Always the showman, Kaiser Chief’s lead singer Ricky Wilson’s stage antics didn’t disappoint. Ten minutes into the show, while most other bands are still warming up, Wilson was already stage diving and rocking out with one of the Budweiser Stage’s American Sign Language interpreters.
Cold War Kids
Later in the afternoon, at the opposite end of Grant Park (and the opposite spectrum of audience energy level), the Cold War Kids took the stage. Though the crowd seemed to be into the performance, singer Nathan Willett did little to engage the audience. As a result, their excitement barely registered beyond a little bit of crowd surfing. They at least sort of made up for it by testing out some brand-new material.
Dan Deacon’s highly entertaining set, which included an Earth Wind and Fire-sized group that he affectionately named the Dan Deacon Ensemble, was a bit of a throwback to Woodstock due to the incorporation of New Age team-building tactics. Between songs, Deacon asked the audience to build a human tunnel that would loop around the entire crowd and partake in a synchronized interpretive-dance circle. “If you concentrate, it will work!” he told the audience.
Though managing more than 20 musicians proved to be stressful at first (Deacon asked for a do-over within the first 10 minutes), by the end Deacon was relaxed enough to just go with the flow (“I know people think you should rehearse…but we’re a bunch of slobs, so it’s cool”). For the finale, he brought a couple of tubas into the mix for a marching-band-inspired number that the crowd went absolutely insane over.
Neko Case’s mid-afternoon performance mellowed out the crowds and provided some much-needed relief for those who opted to set blankets out on the lawn and take a break. She treated the audience to some brand-new material in addition to some of her old favorites and also joked about how laid back her set was in comparison to some of the other acts. “Here’s another fist pumper,” back-up singer Kelly Hogan joked as they started into “Middle Cyclone.”
When Lou Reed’s set was delayed, some of the crowd members started getting antsy. “Lou! Loouuu! In a minute I’m going to see Snoop Dogg!” some man with a leg cast started shouting at the stage. Within minutes, Reed emerges and immediately starts into “Sweet Jane.”
He later delved into some of his deeper material like “Paranoia Key of E,” which then morphed into its own 15-minute jam session with “Waiting for the Man” coming out on the other end. Reed finished his set with “Walk On the Wild Side,” proving to the crowd that his performance was well worth the wait.
Considering that the original Jane’s Addiction lineup hasn’t played Lollapalooza since the event’s inception in 1991, its performance was definitely anticipated to be the over-the-top show-stopper that would close out the festival.
From the moment that Perry Ferrell jumped onto the stage in a gold lamé suit, the audience went crazy (with a crowd-circling helicopter only adding to the chaos). Not even the advice from two specialists warning drummer Stephen Perkins against playing could keep the reunited group from giving one of the best performances of the night.
Though the group started out lively, Ferrell’s commentary between songs started to get a little mundane and even started veering into dirty-old-man territory. The group initially looked like it was going to end the set with “Stop,” but then a few minutes later came back out and brought Joe Perry with it to do an acoustic version of “Jane Says,” which gave the crowd a finale to remember.
– Katie Fanuko