Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

Lollapalooza Day Three: On the scene with Anders Smith Lindall (Updated)

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

It's Sunday, but Lollapalooza doesn't take a day of rest. The Sun-Times has been on the site since this morning, and we'll bring you every angle of the festival until the last strains of headliners Kanye West and Nine Inch Nails fade away tonight. Frequently updated reports follow the jump.

The first task today is running down additional details on the hairy happenings--both in the crowd and on the park's perimeter--that occurred as Rage Against the Machine played. For all of that, see "Raging during the Rage set" as well as DeRo's Saturday recap.

We'll be all over the park on the trail of today's musical highlights and lowlights, of course. As for security, they say their focus will shift from Hutchinson Field in the south (where Rage played last night and Kanye West tops the bill tonight) to Butler Field in the north. That's because Trent Reznor's industrial aggro-rock is expected to rile up fans far more than West will. "Kanye has a calm crowd," a security officer told me. "Nine Inch Nails, though--the drama's up there tonight."

Updated 2:00 p.m.: A short while ago I made my way to the First Aid tent to inquire about the severity of injuries suffered during last night's Rage Against the Machine set. There I met Jake Willens, who was treating a woman's blistered foot when I arrived and turned out to be the proprietor of MASE, the company that contracts with Lolla and many other local events to provide on-site medical services. (For the Willens account of First Aid response to Saturday's nights moshing and crowd surges, see our comprehensive recap of the Rage aftermath.)

Willens offered this interesting list of the most common illnesses and injuries his paramedic team encounters at a festival like Lolla: 1. Blisters on the feet. 2. Heat exhaustion, heat stroke. 3. Alcohol and/or drug overdoses. 4. Leg and foot injuries such as twisted ankles and knees or broken bones (usually the result of mosh pits).

At full strength this weekend MASE will deploy six ambulances and 40 paramedics, mostly off-duty EMTs from the Chicago Fire Department.

Wheeling and dealing

With today's tickets now sold out, expect the scalpers working Columbus Drive to hike their prices. Earlier one was offering a general-admission ticket for $60, while another was hawking a special-access "artist" wristband for just 50 bucks.

Wilco strikes back

Rage drew a much bigger crowd than Wilco last night when the bands played opposing headline sets, but it turns out Jeff Tweedy wasn't finished when he walked off stage. Just as we reported that Rage guitarist Tom Morello led Cubs fans in singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" yesterday afternoon, today Tweedy donned a souvenir jersey and took the Wrigley Field mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. It was said to be a perfect strike. Updated 5:30 p.m.: The rest of Wilco joined Tweedy to lead the seventh-inning stretch, and the Cubs won again.

Updated 5:35 p.m.: I've got a notebook bursting with tidbits on bands that have played this afternoon, plus interesting sights from the festival grounds and more. But I'm hustling out now to catch the end of Saul Williams's set--ain't that always the way at a festival like this; there's just too much happening and you can't be everywhere at once--so for now, here's two of my afternoon highlights:

Lollapalooza deserves credit for presenting foreign pop stars such as Manu Chao (2006) and Café Tacuba (last year), and festival bookers carried on the tradition this time around with AMADOU & MARIAM. The married pair from Bamako, Mali, plays some of the most vibrant, compelling pop on the globe, and with rhythms rolling, guitar lines twinkling and the duo trading vocals, they turned in a Petrillo set worthy of a far greater crowd.

IRON & WINE's frontman Sam Beam continues to transform from the soft-strumming bedroom confessor of his early home recordings to a widescreen visionary who helmed an eight-piece band on Sunday. Adding vibes, keys, steel guitar and Califone's Ben Massarella on assorted percussion to the standard guitar-bass-drums, Beam's ensemble pleased a big Butler Field crowd with waves of elegant, thrumming folk-rock.

Updated 6:50 pm: The south end of Grant Park is packed. Jammed. Slammed. Walking across it is like being one of 75,000 young salmon flopping up a tiny stream. Except rather than being cool and wet, it's hot and dusty.

That said, I managed to make my way to SAUL WILLIAMS's set long enough to see his closer, a brute-force reclamation--more an act of guerrilla cultural appropriation than a cover--of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." (Given the trepidation about what Nine Inch Nails and its crowd have in store tonight, here's hoping the title of that song doesn't prove to be an omen.)

Williams was dressed as Niggy Tardust, the quasi-tribal space traveler/trickster guise he adopted for his album-length collaboration with Trent Reznor earlier this year, and accompanied by a DJ, guitarist, keyboard tweaker and backing vocalist.

Those who caught more of his show than I did say he ripped through his signature cut "List of Demands," then veered into a riff on "change": "If you want health care, if you want change, you know what to do."

Fun Photo Minute

The Golden Girls (photo by Anders Smith Lindall)


The Northside Shuffle

The day began with a bit of confusion on the two main stages in Butler Field on the park's north end.Slated to play at 1:15 at the Petrillo bandshell, WEAKERTHANS canceled due to what a festival insider termed a travel snafu. As a result, WHITE LIES were moved from the bigger stage at 12:30 to Petrillo at 11:30, and local pop mavens OFFICE slid into the former Weakerthans slot.


Everywhere you look, it seems someone's sporting an Obama shirt, hat or sticker. Fitting, then, that a booth near Buckingham Fountain called the T-Shirt Deli was selling this cheeky bootleg tee: "My other Obama shirt is dirty."


Spotted backstage at Iron & Wine's gig: Producer Brian Deck, who said he's been working on new discs lately with Gomez and Lolla performer Margot & the Nuclear So & So's. More exciting, Deck reported that his much-loved psych-rock-art-blues band Red Red Meat (the precursor to Califone) is preparing a 20th anniversary reissue of its album Bunny Gets Paid. Likely to feature a bonus disc full of extra material, it's intended for release on Sub Pop in November.

Ring toss

Our colleagues at the Tribune have reported that if Chicago is awarded the 2016 Olympics, Lolla producers C3 Presents want a piece of the action. No surprise, then, that there's a Chicago 2016 booth on the festival grounds, dispensing temporary tattoos of the Olympic bid committee's logo and plastic bracelets like those made popular by Lance Armstrong's "Live Strong" campaign. (Coincidentally, the C3 folks got their start managing Armstrong's cycling career.)

Fun Photo Minute

Sign spotted backstage in the Petrillo shell. The last line of fine print reads: "No exceptions, except for Mayor Daley, who can stand here and watch the show all day long. So can our Senator (and future President) Barack Obama, or Sen. Dick Durbin. Or a US Congressperson from Illinois, or our Governor. Get the picture?" (Photo by Anders Smith Lindall)


Updated 2:25 a.m.: Thanks to Greg "GIRL TALK" Gillis, Balbo Street became an unhinged dance party. Thousands of arms waved with abandon as crowd-surfing bodies tumbled past; some fans climbed trees for a better view of the DJ on stage. Everyone in sight was shaking and grooving, and Gillis was glad to oblige, throwing the full weight of the booming sound system behind his witty mash-up jams.

THE NATIONAL hailed from Ohio before its members relocated to New York, and at Petrillo, you could still hear the heartland in the band's ringing guitars and driving rhythms. But that blue-collar core was overlaid with sad horns and keys, brooding accents that gave every song a feel of faded grandeur. "I'm so sorry for everything," Matt Berninger intoned darkly, the singer repeating the phrase again and again if doing so could erase all his regrets.

Finally Sunday, one of the festival's most anticipated sets had arrived. Would NINE INCH NAILS uncork a grand-scale spectacle to match the band's take-no-prisoners performances at the original Lolla? And would anything like the rowdiness of the previous night's Rage Against the Machine show happen again?

As it happened, the set opened with crashing waves of intense industrial rock that the crowd matched by surging forward, but security and medical personnel appeared well-equipped and in control throughout.

Numerous fans were pulled from the pit bruised and breathless, but many more came bounding out, grinning like they'd just stepped off the rollercoaster ride of their lives and couldn't wait to do it again.

Reznor crouched over his microphone, barking verses or coaxing falsetto refrains as his three-piece band churned out crunching industrial riffs and fat, snapping dance beats behind him and a huge video screen loomed.

From my vantage point, there seemed to be no serious injuries. The most shaken fans, almost all of them women, were put in the care of MASE medics who'd set up a triage area just off stage right. The extent of needed treatment I witnessed was rarely much more than giving those caught in the crush a protected place to sit, hydrate and gather their wits.

Then Reznor and Co. lost steam, and when the set detoured from its opening salvo of pummeling rock into a series of ponderous instrumental passages, the crowd's jittery energy seemed to drain away. Even a short distance from the stage, onlookers had plenty of elbow room and the mood was casual. Rather than being wound up from the weekend and awaiting one last cathartic release, many fans seemed worn out and ready to go home.

When I checked in with First Aid officials shortly after 9 p.m., two women were being treated on cots in the north medical tent. The south tent was empty and personnel were relaxed, their emergency radios quiet. In all, a paramedic estimated, 25 concertgoers were transported to local hospitals on Sunday.

By the numbers

In the end, I saw much or all of 49 sets over three days. In no particular order, my five favorite performances belonged to Explosions in the Sky, the Gutter Twins, the Raconteurs, Girl Talk and Amadou & Mariam.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

1 Comment

I disagree that NIN "detoured" during their set. I rather liked the calm, instrumental interlude from Ghosts I-IV. He picked right back up with some old faves and ended with a band on Hurt.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on August 4, 2008 2:25 AM.

Lollapalooza Day Three: On the scene with Jim DeRogatis was the previous entry in this blog.

Rage Fans: Chicago rock photographer needs your help is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.