On the second day of the 2012 Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago, the weather went from a sweaty annoyance to a party crasher as severe storms led to the evacuation of the grounds and the cancellation of several bands' sets.
The day got off to a reportedly solid start as local favorites JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound played an early set. Doomtree and Aloe Blacc also played earlier sets. The Chicago Sun-Times was on hand for some of the pre-storm jams.
(Scroll down to view 2012 Lollapalooza festival photos. View our day one recap and photos here.)
But shortly after 3 p.m., matters took a turn for the stormy. Below are some highlights -- and photos -- from the Saturday action at Lollapalooza.
Late arrival: Due to technical difficulties compiling our monster slideshow from day one of the festival, I arrived just in time for Neon Indian's set. Only two or three songs into the set, Alan Palomo hinted that he may be forced to leave the stage soon, and shortly thereafter, a Lollapalooza representative announced that a major storm was on the way to the area. A few confusing minutes later, the rep returned to the mic to announce the imminent evacuation of Grant Park and urge festivalgoers to proceed to the nearest exit.
Mixed messages: While the official word is that Lollapalooza directed folks to officially "designated evacuation centers" including "nearby underground garages," this is more than a bit of a fabrication. While some may have directed to such garages by individual staffers, this was the exception to the rule, which seems to indicate that there was no united evacuation procedure in place in advance for the festival. Reports on Twitter and various media outlets confirm that to be the case, despite organizers' attempt to go into damage control mode.
That said, the evacuation was eerily orderly, from what I could see. Many folks made their way to the nearest bars, liquor stores or friends' hotel rooms to wait out the storm for the next few hours while others attempted to seek whatever shelter they could under awnings or by ducking into area businesses. At Warehouse Liquors, the nearest liquor store to Grant Park, the line for booze snaked around the entire store and a store employee acted as a bouncer, limiting the number of thirsty shoppers inside at any given time. The storm certainly provided an economic stimulus to area businesses.
By the time the gates were reopened and the music returned at 6:30, over three hours later, festivalgoers were considerably more intoxicated and ready to romp in muddy messiness. Festival organizers dodged a serious bullet with how the evacuation played out -- and were wise to clear the field before the gigantic storm touched down -- but clearly need to develop a way of getting out evacuation instructions and updates that doesn't assume everyone in attendance has a smartphone capable of receiving service on or near the festival grounds.
So much fun. So many babies! Alt rockers fun., led by Nate Ruess, were among the five bands with the unenviable position of leading off the second half of the jockeyed Saturday schedule. Unlike Alabama Shakes, Chairlift, The Temper Trap and several other bands, their set had not been cancelled. (Note: Chairlift's set was rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday on the Playstation stage.)
Starting off with triumphant horns, their set suffered early on from sound issues, which would be a continuing theme for many bands to follow on the festival's second day, likely due to the reduced time between sets at several stages. At the Google Play stage, for example, the set breaks were reduced from an already-tight half hour to a next-to-impossible 15 minutes. It also appeared that every young child at the festival was at this set -- they appeared to be enjoying the light-heartedness of it all.
Weeknd weakened? Hardly. Next, back on Lollapalooza's mud-covered southern end, endlessly talented young R&B savant Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. The Weeknd, kicked off a captivating, chilling set on the Red Bull Soundstage. "Mother Nature is a motherfucker," Tesfaye exclaimed at one point during his set, which included songs from each of the three glorious mixtapes he released last year, including the haunting "House of Balloons," which is based on Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Happy House." While many struggled with post-storm vocals, Tesfaye's voice sounded -- for lack of a better word. By far, one of the strongest performances of the weekend to date.
Revived by 'modern love.' British indie rockers Bloc Party came to prominence in the '00s, which might have led some to expect their set to be overlooked by younger festivalgoers. But the band attracted a sizable crowd to their stage as they mixed familiar older jams with newer ones. Again, sound was an issue early on in this set as levels were tinkered with and Kele Okereke's vocals did not come across too well. But as the set progressed -- and particularly after the four-piece played "This Modern Love" with incredible fervor -- they continued to bring it, and rode the set through to a thrilling finale.
Over at Perry's. I'd expected the crowd at the set of Scottish DJ Calvis Harris, the brilliant producer who Rihanna owes the world to, to be stifling, but it seemed considerably thinned out, perhaps due to people staking out a spot for either Red Hot Chili Peppers' set nearby or for Avicii's performance on the other end of the park. Regardless, Harris brought the jams.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Pandemonium is the only way to describe the mood as thousands and thousands of people attempted to get a view of the Red Hot Chili Peppers as they opened their headlining set Saturday. I saw people climbing fences just to see part of the jumbotron. I saw people being nearly trampled on stairways -- repeatedly. For those hardcore enough to get close, I'm sure it was a phenomenal set. Meanwhile, being near the southern field-wide sing-a-long that accompanied almost every one of their songs was good enough for me.
Santibronze. Heading back to Perry's, I got close to the stage to await the start of Santigold's highly anticipated Lollapalooza set which, unfortunately, was trimmed 15 minutes due to the storm and another five minutes or so due to delays in setup time. Starting off with "Go" before heading into a series of older songs, sound problems plagued the beginning of Santi's set -- her vocals were far too low and everything was missing that extra spark and crispness that comes across on her records. A disappointing beginning, particularly given the phenomenal talent scheduled opposite her.
The real deal. I couldn't justify waiting out the iffy sound at Santigold's set and finished day two of Lolla with Frank Ocean. And let's just say: Wow. Don't let the buzz deceive you, this man has a voice like no one else and, on his debut album, has found the perfect vehicle with which to show it off. This set was showy, and almost ethereal in its grandeur. Older song, "Strawberry Swing," was a real stunner. Another standout set from the festival thus far.
On the party front. Rosco Bandana opened up the Rock The Vote party at the Hard Rock Hotel, which was already jampacked by 11 p.m. -- far beyond the point of anything resembling comfort, especially after spending the whole day surrounded by throngs of festivalgoers covered in mud.
Another stabbing. In the second stabbing incident in as many days near Lollapalooza, two men -- aged 28 and 29 -- sustained minor wounds after getting into an argument near the intersection of Jackson and Columbus around 11:20 p.m. Saturday, the Chicago Tribune reports. On Friday, a 53-year-old man was stabbed in the chest outside the festival.
All photos below appear courtesy of Justin Barbin unless otherwise noted.
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