BY ANDERS SMITH LINDALL for the Sun-Times
A local fan's homemade homage to Deadmau5
This was the year dance music at Lollapalooza achieved something approaching parity with rock. Its permanent home, Perry's stage, became a supersized tent drawing crowds well in excess of its 15,000-person capacity. And on Sunday night an electronic producer, Deadmau5, was given a headlining slot opposite Foo Fighters.
The day's second torrential downpour raked the park just as Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) took the stage, but he wasn't deterred. Neither were his fans, who fast turned the soggy field into a pulsing dance floor. Sporting variations on his signature headgear--a mask with large, Disneyish ears and vacant eyes--he spun a ceaseless mix of staccato rhythm tracks layered with pitch-shifted sounds that suggested robotic burps, watery squelches or springing rubber bands, plus occasional bits of movie dialogue or song samples like Elton John's "Tiny Dancer."
But on this day, the music was nearly overshadowed by the weather.
When the first round of soaking rain hit shortly before 6 p.m., fans took cover under tents and trees, seeking shelter however they could. One group discovered a golf cart abandoned by the cleanup crew and raided its cargo of plastic garbage bags for use as ponchos in a pinch.
Performing at the Petrillo shell, Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Shultz looked out and marveled at the sight of "20,000 people taking a shower together." On a side stage, Best Coast played on despite the weather, even as the grove near the stage became a constellation of muddy lakes.
As the cloudburst continued, thousands of the hopelessly soaked streamed for the exits.
Fans avoid the worst of the sloppy conditions while watching Damian Marley & Nas
The rain didn't deter Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley and Nas, the New York MC and reggae scion who with a band played a set that pulled material from the pair's collaborative album, "Distant Relatives," and their own catalogs. Each pushed the other, Jr. Gong seeming to reel in some of his usual party excesses and focus on his lyrical command under the rhymer's watchful eye, and Nas staying just as focused and fiery every time he grabbed the mic. More than the duo's topical material, though, the crowd was happy to just cut loose and dance to Marley's hit "Welcome to Jamrock" and his faithful cover of his dad's signature "Could You Be Loved."
Earlier on the same stage, the Irish punk band Flogging Molly brought equal passion to songs with a similar lyrical stance. But where Jr. Gong and Nas grappled with African poverty, black nationalism and American urban violence, Dave King and his mates sang about Ireland's bloody past, its tenuous present, and the increasingly dicey lot of the working class both here and there. Flogging Molly played a new, as-yet unreleased song that had particular resonance on that score, and King dedicated it to his year-old godson in the hopes that when he grows up he can find a job. What does it say about our nation that a man's most fervent wish for the next generation is simply to find employment? King's lyric answered that: "I'm a working man without any work," he burred as his band buzzed. "Is this the way it's meant to be? I signed on for the American dream ... let the revolution begin."