Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

On the Scene at Lollapalooza: Saturday afternoon

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Early Saturday, Lollapalooza's Chilean connection paid dividends for Chicago concertgoers in the form of Chico Trujillo. The seven-piece band plus singer Aldo Asenjo calls themselves "chilombiana," a Spanish portmanteau referring to the group's roots in cumbia, a Colombian folkloric rhythm, and its context in the omnivorous world of contemporary Chilean rock. But you didn't have to know any of that, or be able to understand the lyrics, to enjoy Chico Trujillo's relentless energy. More a cheerleader than a bandleader, Asenjo channeled the spark of his mates' chattering drums and percussion, the irrepressible bounce of ska in their guitars, their bursts of trombone and trumpet, and keyboards that mimicked the twinkle of a steel drum. Here's hoping next year's Lollapalooza Brazil broadens this musical exchange.

It's doubtful Chicago rockers Disappears has ever commanded a sound system as massive as the one they played through while opening the main stage shortly after noon Saturday, but it made the band's blend of slinky spy funk, motorik drone and outright noise sound huge without losing nuance. Working an array of foot pedals, Jonathan Van Herik's guitar evoked thudding rotors, shrieking bullets and a clangorous machine. Recent addition Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth on drums was both punishing and precise, never letting the songs bog down even as their layers piled up. And by employing so much reverb you couldn't make out his words, singer Brian Case sounded like a commander on a bullhorn, calling out across the rubble to rally his troops.

Off stage, security is focused on the festival's perimeter.

Lollapalooza has further beefed up its defenses against fence-jumpers this year, pushing its barriers westward all the way to the Metra electric tracks; on the east, multiple fences await anyone with designs on unpaid entry, including across the traffic on the lake side of Lake Shore Drive. Maybe as a result, I only saw one crasher yesterday, but I'm told there were many more. A crew member driving one of the golf carts that serves as a festival shuttle told me, unprompted, that I should write about the flash mobs that organized yesterday on "Tweeter" (her term) to crash the festival. She said large groups would gather and wait for an opportunity, sometimes hiding in bushes, before assaulting the perimeter in a coordinated burst. Those caught were kicked out and some even ticketed, she said.

Indeed, at least one video now on Youtube purports to show the aftermath of a flash mob that crashed the gates yesterday, though making out what it depicts is difficult to say the least.

It's not a new problem, of course--see our coverage from last summer--and Lolla founder Perry Farrell even seemed to make light of it in an interview with WGN-TV's Dean Richards earlier this week:

Farrell: We've got now sold-out all three nights and days at 90,000 person capacity. Then if you count all the kids that jump over the fence--

Richards [joking]: Oh, you know that happens?

Farrell: Sure we do [laughter]. I've got some funny ideas on how to stop them, but they're kind of cruel so we've never implemented them. Like having paint on the other side of a double fence, so when they jump in they're marked for life. [laughter]

If it's any indication, security along Lake Shore Drive appears even tighter today, with red-shirted guards stationed every hundred or so feet, and pairs of Chicago police officers on regular bike patrols.

Updated late Saturday: Below are two more new videos that popped up on Youtube tonight. Rather than fence jumpers, both appear to show very large groups of people rushing access points and using their sheer numbers to overwhelm security. The first looks to have happened this afternoon near Monroe Street, the second this evening, possibly on a footbridge over the Metra electric tracks.

Updated late Sunday: Yet another dramatic video of a large crowd rushing, scaling and then taking down a fence.

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We stole music because CDs were overpriced and the record labels were intransigent. I did that. I even spoke out about about the righteousness of it. One of the results is that concert tickets became too expensive because touring became an artist's only way to make money. Now we're stealing concert tickets. No one is more opposed to the behavior of the major labels and the concert industry than I am. I just wonder where it's all going to end.

seen security guards hurt and 2 kids in critical condition after hit by cars on LSD trying to gate crash. fest needs to move to another city since Chi can't behave

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on August 6, 2011 3:07 PM.

Saturday @ Lollapalooza: Grouplove, Ximena Sarinana, more was the previous entry in this blog.

Lollapalooza: It's easy being on Green Street is the next entry in this blog.

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