WPGU Goes Lolla: Recap Day 1

Lollapalooza:20th Anniversary
Friday, Day 1 of 3. Make sure to check back for photos!

The Vaccines [Music Unlimited, 12:45-1:30 PM]
For a band that formed in 2010 and only has one full length, The Vaccines are doing one hell of a job. Here they are a year later and already playing Lolla. Not only that, but playing it really really well. The Vaccines were one of the earliest acts (and in some of the worst heat that day) but still had a solid crowd patiently waiting for the guys. When front-man Justin Young stepped onto the stage in white pants, a red jacket with a Vaccines shirt on under, and a cocky grin, a collective hush fell over the audience. With the album artwork from What Did You Expect From the Vaccines? behind them, the band kicked off their set appropriately with one of the first singles they released together “Blow It Up”. Young thanked the crowd for getting out of bed to see them before going into a flawless performance of “Post-Break Up Sex”. After playing a few more songs and the band delivering non-stop energy, Young began crooning (in his very cute lop-sided way) “Go easy on me”, slowing things down just a bit with “Wet Suit”. When Young exclaimed “Thanks very much. We’re The Vaccines in case you can’t read,” the crowd went crazy wanting the dance-y and flawless performance to go on forever. When “Nørgaard” ended everyone just sort of stood around, unsure of where to go after seeing The Vaccines. – Natalie Wontorczyk

Delta Spirit [Music Unlimited, 2:15-3:00 PM]
“It’s nice to be in Chicago again!” Matthew Vasquez (vocals, guitar) greeted the Lolla crowd so sweetly and right on time before jumping in to “Bleeding Bells” before playing an immediate crowd favorite “Bushwick Blues” from 2010’s History From Below. From Brandon Young on percussion to Will McLaren on guitar, the band seemed happy and even thankful to be performing for such a large crowd. Vasquez really let loose during “People, C’mon” playing his guitar over the crowd, making the crowd erupt in girly screams. This was immediately followed by a new song, “Tear It Up”, that had an airy and haunting feel to it. The Vaccines, in their usual manner of continually raising the crowd’s energy, got everyone movin’ and groovin’ when they played the quirky “Trashcan”. Kelly Winrich (multi-instrumentals) took center stage and began “playing” his trashcan lid while Vasquez jumped back on the keyboard. It was pure madness, everyone was dancing and sweating on eachother-it was exactly what a hot day at a music festival should be! Vasquez, at one point, even jumped ON his keyboard with his hands in the air. The excitement was palpable but everything must come to end and when Vasquez finished with set with “Children”, he scream/screeched in the sexiest and best way possible. And all was well in the world. – Natalie Wontorczyk

Smith Westerns [Playstation, 3:30-4:30 PM]
These Chicago hometown heroes were welcomed to their first-ever Lollapalooza appearance with open (definitely sweaty) arms. As the sun beat down on the crowd, lead singer Cullen Omori entranced them with his sensual swagger (his hips don’t lie) and raspy whisper of a voice. Almost halfway through their set, the band played “Dreams” from their first album that sent shockwaves of energy through the crowd. It had the kind of gritty, garage-rock attitude that couldn’t keep the audience still. Not only are their melodies catchy, but so is every feeling associated with them. You want to keep swaying with Omori or dancing up and down their love anthems. The crowd was completely enveloped in this band, clearly living up to their rave reviews and highly anticipated performance. – Courtney Yuen

Cults [Google+, 4:45-5:30 PM]
It seems like everyone is falling in love with the Cults. They’ve blown up in the past year, bringing dreamy melodies with them wherever they go. The crowd that gathered at the Google + stage definitely reflected that. Yet, a little something was missing during the band’s performance. It seemed like front lady Madeline Follin should have had a few more warm ups before taking the stage; she was so quiet you almost couldn’t hear her. You could tell she was straining during their third song “Heal Myself” and the audience seemed to be waiting for her to unleash. Despite all this, Follin still rang out her sweet, youthful voice and seemed to let loose as the show went on. She was almost reminiscent of the 1960’s, a kind of early girl-glam pop that doesn’t let you go. The audience never stopped dancing and it’s clear we’ll be seeing much more of them in the future. – Courtney Yuen

The Mountain Goats [Playstation, 5:30-6:30 PM]
John Darnielle is for one thing, a great musician.. But, if not more so, an extraordinary storyteller. Most great musicians have this ability, but most aren’t like him. Each song had a backdrop. Every lyric was honest and descript, like you were offered a direct link to his thoughts. John will tell you exactly what he’s going to do, what he’s thinking and why in nearly all of his songs. Enjoying that sense of connection with the artist and the massive crowd behind you is beyond amazing. It embodied this feeling that everyone was in it together. Besides Darnielle’s incredible ability to paint a picture in your head, the band sounded great and looked great too. Their soaring harmonies and snappy looking black suits really captured the crowd’s attention. Darnielle’s beautiful wit and humility charmed the entire audience. For the finale, Darnielle introduced the lovely, bad-ass-Jenn from Wye Oak. Jenn ran onstage, carrying a Polaroid camera. She snapped a photo with John before they finished singing “This Year”. It was hard to tell what song was the crowd favorite, because the whole set felt like a sing-a-long. Everyone sang back to the stage, like they were speaking about their own feelings. – Courtney Yuen

Crystal Castles [Sony, 7:15-8:15 PM]
Ah, Crystal Castles.. I was really interested what the duo would pull to keep our large (very large) crowd entertained and after knowing that band members Ethan Kath and Alice Glass played a killer show at the House of Blues the night before I had high expectations. Not to be a Negative Nancy (lame of me, I know) but I was just a tiny bit let down. Kath and Glass were great performance-wise: Kath was stoic and hooded as always and Glass was bubbly and jumpy and really captivating. They played favorites “Baptism”, “Vietnam”, “Crimewave”, among others, before meeting towards the back of the stage and whispering to each other. Before I knew it, the duo was at it again playing “Not In Love” (no, no Robert Smith appearance kiddos) and pumping up the crowd like no other. That is, of course, before they walked off of the stage. The end of “Not In Love” seemed like it couldn’t come sooner for Crystal Castles and the crowd, still dancing and scratching their heads, didn’t even realize they were left in the dust. – Natalie Wontorczyk

Muse [Music Unlimited, 8:15-10:00 PM]
Seasoned musicians, Muse played to a huge, adoring, and loyal crowd last night. As the sun just started to set beyond the Chicago skyline, police sirens began going off and a huge blue light cast an eerie glow on everything. Muse was officially ready to begin. The sirens died down and a deep, booming voice announced that all guards be at attention due to a riot in progress. The bass started thrumming and “Uprising” began, the chorus lyrics scrolling on the screens so that the crowd continued the “riot” by singing along with lyrics like “they will stop degrading us”. “Supermassive Black Hole” was next on the list and the crowd seemed to agree with my own personal feeling that any tune from Muse’s 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations was a show-stopper. Of course, they played everything like a well-oiled machine and had the crowd hanging on every word. Front man Matthew Bellamy has one impressive set of pipes, literally perfect for concert arenas and huge spaces like this one where he really showcased his vocal prowess. During “United States of Eurasia” the band slowed the pace of the night beautifully, melting heart-breaking piano into the mold of the band. Bellamy ended the night with “Knights of Cydonia” but not before telling the crowd, “Look at that skyline behind you. Gotham City!” – Natalie Wontorczyk

Coldplay [Bud Light, 8:30-10:00 PM]
Nothing quite like being greeted in a crowd of thousands with firework-ash dusting your body. If you were close to the Bud Lite stage, you got a little something extra special when Coldplay came out to greet their very first Lolla crowd. As you can imagine, they drew a crowd of thousands, each and every one of Coldplay’s hits sung back to them in enormous presence. They played a variety of fast and slow songs, making the people sitting on the ground unsure when to stand up to dance or when to stay sitting on the grass, chilling out to the sounds. Chris Martin’s voice was absolutely crystal clear and the composition of each song sounded flawlessly executed. Yet Martin’s crooning across “Violet Hill”, “Everything’s Not Lost” and “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” almost seemed to get a little tedious. Songs like “Shiver” and “Viva La Vida” really perked up the audience, accompanied with a light show that lit up the thousands in the crowd. Coldplay didn’t make their audience wait for the encore long. It was almost a given they would start with “Clocks” and the crowd couldn’t be more happy. The ever so famous, catchy piano intro rang out through Grant Park in indescribable force. Next was “Fix You” and right before the closer (and their newest single) “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall”, Chris Martin paid a short tribute to the late Amy Winehouse with his own, shortened version of “Rehab”. At the end, the crowd seemed to reluctantly walk away, making Coldplay’s first Lollapalooza performance a great close to the first day of the festival. – Courtney Yuen

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