The rains were merciful, the heat was mild and the music was perfect for Lollapalooza 2013, a mild-mannered marathon of greatness on the fields of Grant Park in Chicago. You’ve seen our complete Lolla coverage so far, including photo galleries, daily recaps, interviews and more – now check out the final installment of our recap series with a run through of the best, worst and most memorable moments of Day 3.
Looming Stardom Award: Alt-J
It was evident from the enormous crowd crammed to the front of the Lake Shore stage a full hour before their performance, but Alt-J took to the stage to roaring cheers. The poor timing placement prevented their impressive light show from its usual impact, but as the band rolled through each hypnotically soft-psychedelic track from their 2012 debut album An Awesome Wave it became clear that the visual condiments weren’t necessary. “Fitzpleasure” was wildly received, inspiring unanimous dancing, while massive singalongs were in effect during “Breezeblocks” and “Ms”.
It was at the start of “Matilda” that we were given a glimpse into the trajectory of Alt-J, however. As the song began, the crowd took over vocal duties entirely, much to the amusement of frontman Joe Newman. But it wasn’t just an impressed appreciation in his eyes – the look told of an understanding of their ascent. With one sleepy radio hit and a slew of festival appearances under their belts over the past year, Alt-J have struck an accessibility sweet spot, luring everyone from EDM junkies to stony trip-hop lovers to hipster bandwagoners to rocker kids looking to dip a toe into unconventional waters. There is a palpable sense that, should they push their own limits on their sophomore LP, if they’ve got their own OK Computer waiting to erupt, their ship could hit the stratosphere. We’ll have to see…
Best Hula-Hooper: This Girl
Random Awesome Gamer Tattoo Award: Link, natch
Bad Parenting Award: This kid’s mom & dad
Seriously. If you bring an infant to a music festival full of intoxicated people, mud and eardrum-crushing noise, you suck.
Misplaced Headliner Award: Phoenix
When present-day relevance fails to outshine pre-emo goth nostalgia a generation old, it’s time to consider some other options. While the presentation is pristine, it lacks passion and spontaneity, and despite bringing deep enthusiasm with Bankrupt! single “Entertainment,” the sense of predictability brought a fog of fatigue to the dissipating crowd within forty minutes. To their credit, however, songs like “1901,” “Lasso” and the skittery “S.O.S. in Bel Air” were strong successes with the crowd, who were hungry for one final dance freakout before it all came to an end.
Clothes So Bad The Music Doesn’t Matter Award: Diiv
Look at this kid’s whole getup. He looks like a retarded Kurt Cobain. Mix that with Evan Dando’s doppleganger bass antics, and you’ve got yourself a side-stage fail.
Best Comeback Award: Tegan & Sara
Lollapalooza was not so kind to the Canadian duo the last time they played the fest – in 2005, Sara fell victim to heat stroke mid-set, and the whole thing went off the rails. They came back swinging in the way only these two folk-poppers can, and despite questionable main stage placement delivered an hourlong set of very well received relationship obituaries to an enormous, enraptured midday crowd.
Metal Horns Award: Baroness
Let it never be said that Lollapalooza doesn’t bring the metal on occasion. From the glorious brutality of “Take My Bones Away,” to the deceptive soft-approach slugger “March To The Sea,” the revitalized quartet – with two new members joining frontman John Baizley and grinning shredder Peter Adams – delivered a gloriously welcomed pure rock fury in the midday sun.
Yacht Rock Done Good Award: Vampire Weekend
I’ve seen them a dozen times at a dozen festivals. I have been nearly bored to tears every time. But this year, on this day, Vampire Weekend brought it. Tearing off dance number after popped-pastel-collar dance number, the band leaned on the most upbeat, fan-friendly jams from their three records, stepping up the energy at every turn.
Outshining The Whippersnappers Award: The Cure
If you were wondering where the rest of the crowd went for Phoenix, you only needed look to Grant Park’s south end, where The Cure were delivering the most powerful nostalgia this side of a can of Aqua Net. Frontman Robert Smith, a mess of Grandma makeup and tangled hair, led the aging but undaunted band through hit after melancholic age-old hit. Running through extended intros and meandering guitar lines, the band worked through excellent renditions of “Pictures Of You,” ” Lovesong,” “Just Like Heaven” and “Friday I’m In Love,” among others. Every 40-plus Lolla attendee was on hand, and Smith was well in tune with expectations.
“If they pull the plug on this song, you’ll just have to keep on singing,” he reminded us defiantly before ending the night with the 33-year-old smash “Boys Don’t Cry.” They didn’t, but we were ready.