Ashley’s Longer-than-necessary-review of Lollapalooza 2013 (Sunday at any rate):

5 Aug

To preface all of this, I did not sleep the night before Lolla this year. Not by choice, but by a series of unfortunate events that led to my inability to fall asleep until ten minutes before my alarm went off Sunday morning. The day had begun brilliantly.

Being the ultra-goth that I am, I decided to try highlighting my hair before I left. I have no idea what possessed me to do that, but it was an interesting clash with the all-black ensemble I decided to wear. There’s nothing like 70 degree weather in August to encourage one to play their part. I, of course, rocked the Threadless “Friday I’m in Love” Tee:

Anyways, enough about me. On to more about…well…me, and my impressions of Lolla:

This might have been the quietest, most reserved Lollapalooza I have ever attended. I’m nearly positive now that scalpers must have purchased every single ticket, and were unable to unload all of the Sunday’s they now found themselves with. It’s the only explanation, given how quickly the fest sold out this year, compared with just how relatively few people there appeared to be there. And maybe this was just all appearance, but I’ve never been able to get so close to every act I saw at Lolla before, and this is my fourth year attending.

Palma Violets:
The mixing for these guys was absolutely horrendous, but they appeared to be having the time of their lives. I missed the one song by them I knew, but every other song rocked just as hard and had the same amount of energy, I just couldn’t hear the lead vocalist to save my life. The last song was interesting, because two members of the band didn’t play on it, so they just spent the entire time on stage jumping up and down like idiots, standing on the crowd rail and generally having a great time. I’ll be listening to their album today, their enthusiasm won me over.

Angel Haze Wild Nothing:
I really wanted to see Angel Haze before she, hopefully, blows up. Unfortunately, they stuck her at Perry’s for some reason, and Perry’s has no buffer time between acts because it’s usually all DJs. Making the decision to see her over one of my favorite bands of all time was difficult, and after standing there, waiting for 10 minutes, I knew I couldn’t do it. So, I made it to Wild Nothing just as the first song was beginning. I don’t regret it, even if this now makes them the fourth band I’ve seen live three times (Joining U2 (4), Bruce Springsteen (3) and The Killers (3)). Jack Tatum becomes a better front-man each time I see them, which is a good thing based on the very first time I saw them at Pitchfork Festival. At Pitchfork, that was a lot of awkward silence and him being honest and upfront about the fact that he is very nervous talking in front of the large crowds. Here at Lolla, he even attempted a mild joke, asking the crowd, “When is Jane’s Addiction playing?” Unfortunately, not many people laughed :(. They only played one new song for us, “Ride”, but it was fantastic live. The most I have ever seen Wild Nothing “rock”. Plus, you could see how sincerely honored they were to be playing on the same stage as The Cure. The whole band just seemed really hyped, and Tatum mentioned several times how excited he was for the opportunity.

MS MR, HAIM and Charli XCX are my trio of lady-led bands that I have been pumped to see debuts from all year. Charli’s was mind-blowing…MS MR’s…wasn’t. My disappointment level was so high that I almost didn’t see these guys live. Which would have been a shame, because their music is good, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Live, every song was strong, high-energy and an improvement over the album. And, unlike some, I really enjoyed their little “Dance Yrself Clean” cover, even if it was a mess. I’ll give the debut a few more listens and see if it doesn’t grow on me.

King of the Beach didn’t really blow me away, but I loved the band’s energy.  Their follow-up, Afraid of Heights, however, is a great, solid album and I was really excited to see them live after hearing it. They didn’t disappoint. The songs were frenetic, bouncy and generally fast and furious. One of my biggest disappointments in not attending the rest of the weekend was that I was really anxious to see Foals outside at a festival this year. The two bands may not sound alike in the slightest, but Wavves made up for missing Foals, because I got my summer dance party I was looking for. It just felt like October, was all.

Grizzly Bear:
I’m never going to like Grizzly Bear, but at least I didn’t fall asleep during their set this year, like I did last time >_>. It helps that I did enjoy Shields and they played quite a few songs from it. The show was generally more energetic than the last time I saw them, and I just feel like they were a bit better over-all than the last time. But most things are better when you’re awake, I suppose. Though, I’ll be honest, during their set, I was starting to feel that lost night’s rest. If I had one nit-picky thing to say, it really bugged me that they didn’t acknowledge that they were opening for The Cure. It just feels like any band that’s subbing for a headliner should treat it like an opening act gig and at least pretend like you’re happy to be doing it. Instead, they actually encouraged people to go see Phoenix. Considering that there was likely a significant portion of their audience there to see The Cure, it just seemed an odd thing to do, I don’t know. But, minor thing, it was not the deal-breaker that killed my relationship with The GRIZ.

The Cure:

I really don’t even know what to say. I got into The Cure right at the end of their last U.S. tour. As the years went by, I became more and more convinced they were never coming back, at least not to Chicago. Every year I waited, breath held, for the Lolla lineup announcement, to see if C3 had finally managed to book them, and every year I went disappointed. Until now.

The problem is, I have never wanted to see a headliner that badly at Lolla. I was excited to see RHCP last year, as it was a childhood wish of mine to see them live someday and seeing Black Sabbath was a nice treat. But, there has never been a situation on the level of what was happening to me yesterday. And, I’ll be honest, it ruined the lead-up to Lollapalooza this year. I didn’t like the other bands I was seeing that day, any where near the level I love The Cure, except maybe Wild Nothing, but I’d already seen them twice. So, it was with a lack-of-enthusiasm for anything else, coupled with the knowledge that I was likely only getting a two-hour long Cure show that I arrived at Lollapalooza that Sunday morning. I’ll try to never do this to myself again, because the day ended up being brilliant. Every act was better than I expected and this will go down as one of my three favorite days of Lolla ever.

But, The Cure! Oh The Cure. Where to begin? I was standing there, in a sea of people, closer than I’d ever expected to get and then there was a sound that came from the speakers as the lights dimmed. I looked to Travis and a huge grin broke on my face as I recognized what those synthesizers were heralding, “Plainsong!” The band filled on stage, Robert Smith last, and looking more like a crazy cat-lady than I think I’ve ever seen him, and the music began. I don’t know if I have ever had a concert experience begin with quite the wave of emotion that hit me then, and I doubt I will ever again. Not U2, not Bruce Springsteen. And I think the reason is, maybe I like those two acts more than The Cure, but I always knew I would see them some day.

And it just kept going like that. Me, giddy, singing along to every word (except “Wrong Number”, I didn’t know that one) and generally being the happiest person in the world. The set-list was poppy, and I expect people hated it, but I could not have been happier. I have weird taste in The Cure, if weird taste means I basically love everything they’ve ever released. That morning, I had made a joke to Travis about how much I wanted to hear “Mint Car” and “End of the World”. It had been a joke, but it also created a nice diversion, because once those two songs were played, I was so happy that I forgot about every other song by The Cure I love. Which meant that every time they played a song I liked 100x more than those two, I was in shock.

Which leads to “Disintegration”. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to hope they’d play it, but when I heard the first note, I immediately began crying. It’s only one of three times I actively remember crying at a concert, but I was just so happy I couldn’t really help it. And then after “Disintegration” was over, I wanted to cry from sadness, because at only 9:40 PM they were leaving the stage. I knew then that they weren’t going to be rebels. They were not going to break curfew. We were only getting a two hour long show.

The pop encore may have been my favorite part of the whole thing, simply because each song they played became one more that I wasn’t sure they’d do. I was never sure when they were going to leave the stage again to do the inevitable Boys Don’t Cry encore. As time slipped by and they didn’t leave, I began to fear they weren’t going to do it. I tried not to make eye contact with my husband as he grew more and more frustrated. I had promised “A Forest” and it was appearing I was going to be made a liar.

There’s only one thing I can guess happened that led to the “short” set-list, and that was that C3 made The Cure promise they would be off stage at 10. I’ve seen plenty of bands go passed 10 o’clock. Green Day and Soundgarden come immediately to mind, but I guess The Cure are just too notorious. The way Robert kept talking, I’m guessing they were told the plug was getting pulled at 10, because he seemed genuinely afraid that they wouldn’t be able to finish “Boys Don’t Cry”.

That’s about it for the set, the band itself, my God. Robert Smith needs an intervention like you wouldn’t believe. No one in the band is dressing like that anymore. I feel like it would help their image so much if he maybe just did something a little different. And really all I’m getting at is, he needs a hair cut like mad.  Besides that small detail, he was absolutely fabulous.  He still does all of the little hand motions and silly dances.  He still rolls his eyes around like crazy. And his voice.  Oh my, his voice.  It hasn’t changed.  It was so powerful, and so wonderful.  Simon, though sporting an outcast costume from The Outsiders was stupidly energetic. I loved it. I think Flea may be the only bassist I’ve ever seen dance around stage more than he did. The other members of the band did not disappoint, and I’m glad that at least one of them has been a former member of The Cure before.

Overall, I suppose you could say I was pleased with The Cure’s performance.

Just, please, Lolla…never book a band I love again.

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