Now in its fifth year as a destination festival, Lollapalooza got off to a soggy start yesterday in Chicago. It started to rain just about the time the doors opened and it didn’t let up for most of the day.
The dreary weather was somewhat appropriate for the moody, dour music of Bon Iver and the Fleet Foxes, a pair of indie artists who played rather downbeat sets. While Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon wasn’t so successful getting audience members to singalong to “The Wolves (Act I and Act II),” singer-pianist Ben Folds had better luck with “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” his straight-faced cover of the Dr. Dre track, which Folds introduced as a “rain-dance.” His punchy set was one of the day’s highlights.
The righteous, Springsteen-meets-Social D punk of the Gaslight Anthem and the funky, Middle Eastern-tinged grooves of DJ collective Thievery Corporation, which benefited tremendously from a live band, were other highlights.
And indie-poppers Of Montreal scored points for their colorful entrance. The band and crew members wore outlandish costumes and even acted out a short skit.
Depeche Mode capped everything off with a two-hour main-stage show that showcased their latest album, Sounds of the Universe, and playing a few old favorites like “Personal Jesus” and “Question of Time.” While the band is known for bringing out the epic qualities of its synth-pop tunes, its Lollapalooza set didn’t rise to the occasion, even though singer Dave Gahan tried his best to stir some energy from the audience.
Brooklyn-via-Cleveland rapper Kid Cudi gets points for showing so tons of energy, even though he played on the small, DJ-friendly “Perry’s stage” at the same time as Depeche Mode were on one end of Grant Park and co-headliners Kings of Leon were on the other. “The Midwest always shows Cudi love,” he said during his short, 30-minute set. That was certainly true as a small crowd heartily embraced the up-and-coming rapper. —Jeff Niesel