Saturday, August 7
3:15 p.m. We arrive late and just in time to sardine it up in the packed crowd for The xx. A limp girl is hauled out of the crowd by her friends. The music sounds sparse, and not in a good way. I overhear fans confirm opinions throughout the day that their music didn’t translate well to the festival stage.
3:50 p.m. Gogol Bordello is drenched with sweat five minutes into their act. I’m just glad that the magnified beads of sweat flying from lead singer Eugene Hutz’s scalp – which I see in action on the jumbo monitor – aren’t 3-D. Hutz carries a bottle in hand. The crowd dances like “Gypsy Punk” is their own motto. A guy walks around selling bootleg Lollapalooza t-shirts for $10.
5:15 p.m. Deer Tick is playing one of the smaller stages, and the lead singer is slurring his words and his thank-yous. Still, I wasn’t expecting three and four-part vocal harmonies. These drunkos are lovely.
6:45 p.m. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes take the stage almost 15 minutes late. The pitfalls of having nine band members, perhaps? The youngsters around me complain about the tardiness, which is not very rock n’ roll of them. But the band puts on an inspiring and glorious show, made only better by the audience knowing every word. Color me surprised and a little choked up.
7:30 p.m. I forgo the much-discussed $9 lobster corn dog from chef Graham Elliot for a spicy vegetarian burrito. No regrets.
8:30 p.m. Phoenix takes the stage. Their sound is tight, the crowd pumps its fists and the stage comes to life in front of the lit-up Chicago skyline backdrop. Singer Thomas Mars announces this is the largest crowd they’ve ever played. He maintains a look of quiet amazement on his face every time he looks out into the crowd like he can’t believe his own damn luck. It’s a stark contrast to Lady Gaga’s version of thankfulness the previous night.