My name is Griffin Fillipitch. I'm 18, recently graduated high school and will be attending University of Minnesota in the fall. This is my fourth Lollapalooza.
Sunday is when every part of Lolla verges on becoming too much of a good thing. Ambition of most festival goers, understandably, dwindles, and the shows you may have been looking forward to all weekend start to sound way less appealing than a burrito and a spot in the shade. I fought these urges and saw some of the best performances of the festival.
Those all came in the second half of the day. The early afternoon was fine, but not too memorable. The Dodos, a folk-rock trio with two extremely good records to their name, sounded good but many of their songs went too long, and interest of the crowd seemed to deteriorate when Neko Case's guest spot ended. Blitzen Trapper sounded excellent, but their 70s mountain rock revivalist sound is too purely revivalist for me to really get in to. English folk act Mumford & Sons garnered a surprisingly huge crowd, which made good for utterly sincere sing-a-longs in between banjo solos. The highlight of the first half of the day, though, was Portland based dance-rock band Hockey, whose choppy guitar based grooves sounded like a less lame Maroon 5.
The second half of the day was hectic with must-see shows for me, beginning with X Japan and Yeasayer at 4 pm. X Japan, who I had not heard of before this weekend and was instructed to see by a friend, was absolutely ridiculous. A Japanese metal band reuniting after about a decade of estrangement, X Japan was a completely self-serious, operatic, technically mind-blowing show, despite the fact that I don't really like metal at all. Yeasayer was better, their synth melodies tumbled on the beats of multiple percussionists and did not disappoint with the rousing closer "Ambling Alp".
The five o'clock hour produced what was by far the cruelest overlap of the weekend. Scottish sad sacks Frightened Rabbit played up against alt-soul almost legend Erykah Badu on opposite ends of the festival.
Frightened Rabbit's robust guitar plowed full speed ahead and the "Oh oh oh" chants were not in short supply. Many of the songs felt the same, but they knocked that song out, without fail, every time. It was one of the highlights of my weekend, but I had to pull myself away to catch the end of Erykah Badu's set, which I don't regret at all. Her hyper-sexual, all powerful stage presence made her capable of turning her shifty funk experiments into epics that owned the crowd. Her set ran about seven minutes too long, and Wolfmother, set to start at six across the field, started in the middle of her last song. She stopped the band behind her and overpowered the sound from across the way with her voice alone. Also a highlight of my weekend.
Matt Berninger, front man of The National whose set began at 7:15, has one of the strangest stage presences I've ever seen. For about half of the show, he stared intently at the ground while letting his baritone voice ring out over the gorgeous, slow build of guitar, piano, violin, and horns behind him. There was an unparalleled power and maturity in his manner and the band's as a whole. Meanwhile he churned out some of the best songs of the decade ("Fake Empire", "Terrible Love"). He closed the set by jumping out into the audience and walking about, singing the last few songs amongst shocked and joyous fans. The closest I got was about ten feet away, and even at that distance the excitement was unbearable. It was such a great surprise of a show. Another highlight of the weekend. It made for the perfect lead-in to Arcade Fire's headlining spot.
Undoubtedly one of the most anticipated shows of the weekend, Arcade Fire took the stage on the heels of their third LP The Suburbs. Their live show has always been known for a sort of frantic catharsis; a combination of a clear love of performing, and a clearer hatred of life. Now, that's mostly a joke, but I found it incredible how the chant of, "Every spark of friendship and love will die without a home" from "Intervention" could transform from hopeless on record to triumphant on stage. The set was filled with new songs that the crowd was not totally familiar with, which front man Win Butler half-apologized for. Still, they never got bogged down and made it to all the mandatory crowd favorites, ending with a tremendous rendition of "Wake Up" that united the crowd and brought the show and festival to the fever pitch we had all been waiting for. It was really the only way Lollapalooza could have or should have ended.
All in all, probably the best Lollapalooza I've attended so far, musically and otherwise. Thanks a lot for reading!Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun