Photography by Chris Rotolo
On Sunday, Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” introduced Jersey’s new favorite sons, The Gaslight Anthem, who crushed the opening notes of “Great Expectations” just as the first verse cut out, setting a new tone on this third day of Lollapalooza marred by atmospheric pandering, while spreading adrenaline through the main artery of an audience placed into a comatose state by the musical morphine Sigur Ros dispersed through the air only moments earlier…but well get to that later.
Brian Fallon and the crew brought their basement-honed and Stone Pony-polished performance to the Google Play Stage winning over the Chicago-heavy audience from the get go by injecting a few stanzas of Ryan Adams’ “Dear Chicago into the set’s aforementioned opening salvo, and following up with the sweet sounds of Punk-laced Rock N’ Roll artistry that included such cuts from the outfit’s feted catalogue as the nw single “45,” as well as the group’s timeless breakthrough hits “The ’59 Sound,” and “American Slang.”
The Gaslight Anthem slowed the pace with “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues,” “The Diamond Church Street Choir,” and a moving rendition of “Here’s Looking At You, Kid” which had a Chicago couple slow dancing to my right in the fading sunlight, whispering sweet nothings (and possibly somethings) to one another, their widening smiles expressing thanks that latter tale of love lost thrice times didn’t mirror their own lives.
It also created quite the juxtoposition when a set closing selection of “The Backseat” provided those riotous crowd surfers among the mob a proper wave to coast upon; the raucous surge of jubilation drawing onlookers and passersby to the intimate, foliage-enclosed platform, forcing those athletic enough to climb various branches in search of a more promising vantage point and a more comfortable setting to sip their Budweisers.
Point out my bias, tell me I’m too proud, disagree with this following statement, but The Gaslight Anthem’s performance is neck in neck with both Die Antword and Black Sabbath for best of the weekend.
The always distinct Jack White never gives you the same set twice, structuring his song selections and style to cast a certain mood, and his headlining set on The Red Bull Stage expressed one of brooding angst as the bohemian bluesman waltzed rapidly from the wings flipping his still smoking cigarette into the photo pit without regard before tearing into “Sixteen Saltines,” followed by the riotous “Black Math.”
“If I cross my arms that means clear the area because its getting to dangerous,” explained the pit boss to working press at the foot of the stage prior to White’s performance. “I don’t think it will though, its only Jack White.”
The Detroit-based Garage-Rock maestro at heart proceeded to cue up the raucous Rockabilly jam “Cannon/Nitro/John The Revelator,” which came complete with a series of fist tossing fight riffs, inciting a riot before calling upon the singed Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi collaborative effort “Two Against One.”
Across the festival grounds on the Bud Light main stage Florence Welch frolicked about the photo pit, flirting and connecting with those flying high in the front row before returning to the stage to state: “Being British, were not very big on public displays of affection, but with this song I want you to turn to the person next to you and give them a kiss, show your love, love each other!” prior to calling upon “Spectrum (Say My Name).”
Prefacing Florence & The Machines elegance and beauty, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and At The Drive In provided a stark contrast, hurling himself across the stage while praising Danzig, and humping a veteran camera man while screaming into the lens, before punting an open bottle of water at a cluster of photographers and there thousands of dollars worth of equipment during the opening number “Arcarsenal.”
Possibly the strongest day of headliners and pre-headlining acts, Sunday also saw Childish Gambino rhyme over Adele on the Google Play Stage, the Fench EDM duo Justice hypnotize a rolling congregate of House music enthusiasts, as the high intensity MC J. Cole captivated on the Bud Light stage while paired off with the previously referenced Sigur Ros, whose Icelandic ambience provided a much needed session of relaxation on the final day of this marathon, intentionally or not putting a multitude of patrons literally to sleep.
Sigue Ros’ set was one to forget from an otherwise unforgettable weekend to celebrate artistic achievement, honor legends, and gaze at the future foundation of music. Can’t wait to waltz in the rainy weather with you again in 2013 Chicago.