Lollapalooza 2013 was the summer festival to be at this year- there’s no doubt about it, Lolla lived up to the immense hype it brought upon itself with a stellar lineup and pedigree to match.  When the 2013 lineup was officially announced on April 1st, Perry Farrell’s three day music festival was immediately tagged as the “must attend” summer event of 2013 by us.  The headliners were the perfect mix of current indie favorites and long-standing genre defining icons.  The bands throughout the day ranged from electronic solo acts, four piece folk bands, DJs in inflatable bubbles, surf punk rockers, to guitar slaying maniacs.  And it all took place with the gorgeous backdrop of downtown Chicago on one side and Lake Michigan on the other.  Picking the best from over 130 live acts was no easy task, any many more deserve to be recognized for their performances, but we still had to select the very best of Lollapalooza 2013.  Here we go! 

The selections below are for festival performances only.  Aftershow performances and other experiences can be found in Part 2 of our Best of Lollapalooza series.

Best of Friday

Crystal Castles

Playing with the sun still up is usually not the preferred way to experience Crystal Castles.  Their simple yet eyeball bludgeoning light show is a key part to their live experience, but even the sun couldn’t hold back Alice Glass and Ethan Kath from being the best live act on Friday.  There was something raw about this Crystal Castles show that made it stand above the rest of Friday’s performances.  Without a doubt Alice Glass put on a show- definitely aided by her bottle of Jameson that she had on stage and in hand throughout.  Glass was able to drown a bottle of whiskey while jumping off of drum sets and stage diving into the crowd.  An impressive feet for any artist and especially for the wild 24 year old Canadian singer.  Crystal Castles attracted a diverse crowd of electronic fans and rock n’ roll appreciators.  Their set reminded everyone why no other band at Lollapalooza, or really in the world, is quite like them.

Highlight Moment: Every time Alice Glass and Jameson hung out together.

Alice Glass of Crystal Castles ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Matt Ellis
Alice Glass of Crystal Castles ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Matt Ellis

Nine Inch Nails

It had been 4 years since Nine Inch Nails played in the United States, and 5 years since Nine Inch Nails performed at our favorite Lolla ever (besides this one!) in 2008.  To say that the city of Chicago and Lollapalooza attendees were excited for the return would be an understatement.  Throughout the weekend, even on Saturday and Sunday when the band had already performed, we saw more Nine Inch Nails shirts around Lollapalooza than any other band.  Yes, Nine Inch Nails fans are just kind of like that, but it was still a testament to how important their presence was at the festival.  Now Perry’s stage may have had the biggest lighting set up of the weekend, but there was no doubt that Nine Inch Nails put on the most intense light show of any band or DJ at Lollapalooza 2013.  The moving stage sets, and huge shadow backgrounds of the band projected on gigantic screens created a stage show worthy of Lollapalooza’s main stage.  Their was a lull in the set where Trent went to the keyboards for about ten minutes too long, but besides that it was a pulverizing performance of Nine Inch Nails classics and new tracks from the upcoming album Hesitation Marks.  Welcome back Trent.

Highlight Moment: Head Like A Hole always gives us chills, but the Lollapalooza 2013 rendition was something very special.

Nine Inch Nails ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by David Mead
Nine Inch Nails ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by David Mead


Best of Saturday


The two best shows of Saturday happened between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM, so if you got there too late you might have missed it.  On a day that was heavy with folk and indie bands, we weren’t too keen on the headliners for Saturday like we were for Friday.  But if you were looking for rock n’ roll, you could easily find it in it’s purest sense with Reignwolf and Charles Bradley.  There was a ton of hype surrounding the Saskatoon native rocker going into Lollapalooza.  The legend was just beginning to grow going into Chicago, and it was solidified by 2:30 in the afternoon.  The most guitar shredding act of the weekend was Reignwolf all the way.  The crowd in the know who made it to the Petrillo stage to see Reignwolf was treated to some amazing guitar shredding while being on top of the crowd.

Highlight Moment: Probably the best crowd entering dive while still managing to play your instrument we have seen in a long time.

Reignwolf ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Matt Ellis
Reignwolf ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Matt Ellis

Charles Bradley

Over at the main stage and immediately after Reignwolf was carried back to the stage by fans and security, Charles Bradley was taking the stage.  The 65 year old funk and soul singer, with a blue suit and diamond encrusted cobra on his back, was able to match the energy and soul of the much much younger Reignwolf.  We are all about the diversity of genres and music at festivals, and Charles Bradley with his jazz and funk backing band and saxophones was the perfect recipe.  The man breathes and lives music, and his gracing of the Bud Light stage gave him a big audience.  Two hours of rock n’ roll, funk and soul from a Canadian with a guitar that not many had heard of before that day, and a soul singer in his mid-60s, was the best part of a Saturday that included some of the biggest indie bands in the world.  Ya, that’s the Lollapalooza we love.

Highlight Moment: Air kicks, stage slides, and enough funky dance moves to make James Brown jealous.

Charles Bradley ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Matt Ellis
Charles Bradley ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Matt Ellis



Best of Sunday

Dog Blood

We didn’t know this going into it, but apparently this was the last US show for Skrillex and Boys Noize as the duo Dog Blood.  The crowd fed off of that early announcement and with that energy Dog Blood put on one of the best sets at Perry’s Stage.  There’s something awesome about an EDM set starting with a huge black curtain over the stage.  We’ve seen Dog Blood start sets like this before, but it never gets old.  Skrillex was very vocal on the mic, even slowing down the manic set for a second to help out a few girls getting crushed at the front.  Boys Noize was his usual dancing self, and the whole thing felt like one of those “we are going out hard” type of shows.  The duos mixes of “Wild For the Night”, “Middle Finger” and “Next Order” were some of the best moments of crowd craziness and dancing at Perry’s all weekend.

Highlight Moment: The moment the Dog Blood logo curtain drops from the top of the stage to start the set and the duo went into their remix of “Middle Finger”.

Dog Blood ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Jack Edinger
Dog Blood ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Jack Edinger

The Cure

For Perry Farrell one act at this year’s Lollapalooza had special personal significance. Perry grew up listening to The Cure, he had an emotional connection with the band, and when he first moved out to LA he specifically auditioned for bands that referenced Robert Smith and The Cure.  The Lollapalooza founder has said that each song by the veteran English rock band will connect to a memory of his. After years of trying to coax The Cure to play his festival he finally got his wish Sunday night with a two-hour set (the longest of the weekend) to close out the festival.

Robert Smith, the only constant member of The Cure throughout the years, may be older now but his voice is as sharp and emotional as ever. Smith serenaded the crowd with one hit after another as the sun set over the Chicago skyline and the masses of people that filled the football field size lawn outside the Red Bull Sound Select stage. Smith finally closed out the performance with a 20-minute set of The Cure’s pop classics including “Let’s Go To Bed”, “Close To Me”, and “Boys Don’t Cry”.

Lollapalooza is a celebration of the power and joy that music can bring. It is a personification of Parry’s belief in how music can bring people together. After a full weekend of hard rock, new Indie bands, and face melting EDM headliners The Cure was the perfect band to wrap up the festival. Festival goers of all ages were singing along to every song, and I imagine somewhere backstage Parry was too.

Highlight Moment: When the opening riff for “Boys Don’t Cry” started and the crowed erupted in recognition with a spontaneous round of applause before even the first lyric.

The Cure ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Dave Mead
The Cure ~ Lollapalooza 2013 photo by Dave Mead

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