Fully rested from Friday’s full day of music, and great weather, I had every intention of taking it easy on Saturday. Heat Index readings were supposed to be hovering around 105-110º, and there weren’t too many bands to see on my schedule. We headed in a little later than the previous day, and spent the first hour or so hiding in the shade, lathering up sun screen, and loading up on Boxed Water, Sweet Leaf Tea, and food from Chowtown South before heading down to the Sony Stage to see Bear In Heaven, a Lost In Reviews favorite. It must have been the fifth or sixth time for Ryan and Angela seeing them, but it was my first. The band seemed really excited to be there, especially singer Jon Philpot who excitedly brandished his 1991 Lollapalooza tour shirt. Aside from a minor verbal scuffle with a random bro who showed up just to hold up a giant cardboard cutout of his face, in hopes of getting on camera, the band’s set was nearly perfect, especially with the addition of Philpot’s awesomely dorky dance moves and the band’s huge jam/noise session on the outro of “Sinful Nature”. The only downside being the insane temperatures. By the time the band had finished their 45 minute set, I looked like I had a bucket of gatorade poured on top of me. It was HOT.
Instead of waiting around for Neon Indian‘s set on the same stage an hour later, I opted to recuperate, refilling our water, and restocking on tea, before taking shelter inside one of the conveniently placed CTA Cooling Busses, located next to Perry’s Stage. That meant hanging out in a small box, soaking up air conditioning with a bunch of shirtless bros. Oh, and yeah, seriously, bros don’t wear shirts. Camelback’s are the only form of clothing to these people. But, whatever. After that, uh, adventure, I skipped Neon Indian altogether and decided to head down to the Google Play Stage to hear Chairlift. The Google Stage was located inside of this nice little wooded area that is perfect for relaxing. By the time we had grabbed a spot on a stone staircase next to the stage, the weather had changed considerably. It wasn’t blistering hot anymore and the sky was grey. All in a matter of minutes. After returning from braving a Lollapalooza port-o-potty, I was informed that an announcement had been made while I was indisposed that the festival had been canceled and was being evacuated immediately because of an oncoming storm. Wait, WHAT?! Under an hour before this very moment, I was sweating my ass off under the sun, and now the whole day was being canceled because of a little rain and now I wouldn’t be able to see my most anticipated band of the day, the reunited Bloc Party.
People started filing out of the park confused and angry with nowhere to go. Some people refused to leave while others just immediately started setting up parties at their hotel rooms. What was most striking about the evacuation, though, was how chaotic it LOOKED and how controlled it actually was. Looking out into the streets of Chicago and seeing a hundred plus thousand people roaming the area, looked like sheer madness, but amazingly no riots or fights broke out, or anything of the sort. Instead, everyone just waited for the storm to blow over and hoped to be able to return. Luckily, Ryan’s friend from INK magazine was also in town for Lolla and graciously volunteered his hotel room for us as a form of shelter. The clouds started rolling as we were walking to the hotel, and was the perfect opportunity to throw out some good Twister references. These clouds were ominous looking, man. We’re talking pitch black with a green afterglow.
Not taking any chances, as soon as we felt water drops, we ducked inside of a parking pay
station. Almost immediately after, the storm hit. It was so heavy that a manhole cover in the parking garage was literally bouncing up and down from the air pressure below. Within minutes, water started gushing up out of the manhole acting like a mini-geyser. It was amazing and hilarious all at the same time, and a nice little distraction from the fact that we were hiding in a parking garage instead of being at Lollapalooza. Eventually we finally made our way to our savior of the day’s extremely swanky hotel room, where we sat around and ate pizza, watched the Olympics, and waited around for an official word on whether the park would be re-opened or not.
About an hour and a half later, the word first broke out, via Fun.‘s twitter, of all people, that the show was back on. On our way back to the festival, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people would actually come back and felt like the show would be half full now. I clearly underestimated the power of social media, as we rolled up to the entrance and EVERYONE was piling back in. People were elated that the show was back on and festival goers could be seen high-fiving the volunteer workers and security guards upon reentry. Once back inside, you couldn’t tell that the festival was shut down at all. Everything looked business as usual. Except the enormous mud pit that was the south field, and the dozens and dozens of people who took it upon themselves to slide around in it. To each their own, I guess!
Despite the two hour rain delay, almost every band went on (only 6 bands total didn’t play at all), just with a later time slot, and a slightly shorter set time. The city even allowed the headliners to go an hour past the city’s curfew. I headed over to catch some of Washed Out‘s set on the Google stage, and caught the last song from Fun. It was undeniably clear that this band should have been put on a bigger stage. The spill-out for Fun went back to the Chowtown and port-o-potty areas. It was insane. Washed Out finally came on after a quick 15 minute set-change. I only caught two songs, but Ernest Greene’s full live band gave a completely different sound to his chilled out tracks. Gone were the lo-fi beats and in were booming drums and guitars. The songs that I heard almost felt unrecognizable at times, and I had to listen to certain keyboard lines to pinpoint which song was being played. I dug what I heard and would love to see a full set from him at a later point.
I left early in order to catch Bloc Party‘s now 8 pm performance on the Sony Stage. It’s a good thing that I left Washed Out when I did, because Bloc Party went on fifteen minutes early and were walking on stage as I arrived. It was amazing to think that hours earlier, the festival was being evacuated for a raging storm, and now I was watching their set, blanketed with a beautiful pink and purple sunset. It was a fantastic backdrop to the bands incredibly fun performance. Usually when bands play material off an album that is not out yet, the crowd response is quite dismal, but that was not the case here. New songs, never before heard, got just as big of a reaction as songs off of the band’s first and most loved album, Silent Alarm. At one point during the set, singer Kele Okereke mentioned how he had woke up in a bad mood, as he felt that the last time the band played Lolla in 2008, it was a bust, but he was having a great time and it was obvious that he wasn’t lying as he spent a vast majority of the set dancing around on stage with a huge grin on a his face.
As I didn’t care to see any of the headliners on Saturday night, I opted to head home after Bloc Party‘s set, but walking to the train stop, I couldn’t help but think that after being kicked out of the park, taking shelter in a parking garage and a hotel, thinking I wouldn’t get to see one of my main Lolla draws, Saturday ended up being a great day with a beautiful ending, and some entertaining stories to tell. And I couldn’t thank INK’s Chris Haghirian for being any more cool of a dude by letting us hang at his place!
By Richard Pepper