Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Lollapalooza 2005

Illustration for article titled Lollapalooza 2005

Launched in 1991 by Jane's Addiction founder Perry Farrell back when he was still young and starry-eyed, Lollapalooza was originally envisioned as a touring festival that would showcase disparate artists and shun corporate sponsorship. Things changed. The tour ran with varying degrees of musical and commercial success until 1997, was revived in 2003, and then was scheduled but scrapped in 2004 due to dismal ticket sales. By all rights, it should've stayed dead. From the outset, Lollapalooza 2005 had little to do with Lollapalooza 1991. Farrell and a big-time events company grabbed a better idea from festivals like Reading and Coachella, planning a two-day, one-city blowout that would stand or fall on its own. Bands were hired, Chicago's Grant Park was chosen, and plenty of companies jumped on board to reach the kids. (Honestly, does having the words "an SBC experience" underneath the title really affect anyone either way?) The acts chosen were relatively safe bets, but most made sense in the lineup. Mother Nature cooperated on day one, and even though she brought beastly heat on day two (Chicago's Midway Airport recorded the second-highest temperature in Chicago history—104 degrees), that didn't stop revelers from reveling. The A.V. Club sweated to the newies to bring you this minute-by-minute report.

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saturday, july 23

11:45 a.m.: The Redwalls and The (International) Noise Conspiracy begin the weekend's first performances. Since when is rock up at this hour?

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4:31 p.m.: Anton Newcombe, mercurial frontman for The Brian Jonestown Massacre, makes it through his band's set without getting into a fight with the crowd or his band, though he repeatedly taunts Dashboard Confessional, playing simultaneously across the field. BJM closes its set with a long, feedback-drenched song.

5:32 p.m.: A surprisingly fit, muscular Billy Idol begins his hit-filled set on one of the two big stages. Nearly everyone murmurs, "Isn't it weird that he's playing?"

5:58 p.m.: Silence between songs during Blonde Redhead's stellar set is punctuated by Idol howling "more, more, more!" from across the field. Awesome.

6:03 p.m.: A light rain begins to fall, but the performances continue. The day remains overcast, with unexpectedly mild temperatures, but forecasts for Sunday promise punishment.

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6:32 p.m.: Primus plays in front of two massive, inflatable duckies.

7:30 p.m.: Before introducing the Pixies, Perry Farrell makes a brief, awkward plea for concert patrons to join the fight against global warming. The crowd mostly humors him. Farrell's later introductions prove similarly clumsy. But he's the godfather, and thus commands a certain level of respect here.

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8:45 p.m.: Weezer takes the stage to a delighted audience, while on the opposite end of the field, reunited hip-hop trio Digable Planets plays to a much smaller (but also enthusiastic) crowd.

sunday, july 24

12:15 a.m.: The Walkmen take the Schubas stage for one of many "official" (says who?) Lollapalooza after-shows around the city. (The other hot ticket: Blonde Redhead at the Double Door.) In spite of the late hour, the temperature outside has increased—a bad omen for day two of the main fest.

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2 p.m.: Temperatures top 100 degrees and the heat index exceeds 110, but many concertgoers continue to pound cups of beer. Given beer's dehydrating effects, they might as well be drinking seawater.

2:16 p.m.: Worst job at Lollapalooza (probably): A volunteer carries a bright sign that says "Lolla Info! Ask me!" through the hot, dusty field. Maybe it's about self-flagellation and cleansing, who knows…

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2:31 p.m.: J Mascis, frontman for the newly reunited Dinosaur Jr., greets fans with a quick "hello" before the band starts. He speaks to the crowd only one other time during the group's 45-minute set, which focuses only on Dinosaur's early material.

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2:50 p.m.: The first of at least two people collapses during Dinosaur Jr.'s set, either from excessive heat or excessive volume. No deaths are reported at Lollapalooza, though three elsewhere in the city are blamed on the heat.

3:38 p.m.: Before the debut of Perry Farrell's new band, Satellite Party, the "Lolla Girls" take the stage. A public court immediately arraigns them on charges of attempted sex appeal; Farrell is named as a co-conspirator. When the man himself arrives, he seems genuinely delighted to be performing again, though his new music doesn't seem to stir those Jane's Addiction emotions in the relatively small crowd. Farrell is still a presence, though, preening and posturing and non-sequiting all the way. At one point, he asks, "Are there laws in space?" The crowd is supposed to answer with a resounding "No!" But they don't, and he has to ask again.

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3:38 p.m.: Tegan and Sara Quin, the twin sisters at the core of power-pop group Tegan And Sara, start their set in high spirits by cracking jokes about the heat. Sara's wearing tight black jeans and a black blouse, but she says she feels fine.

3:52 p.m.: Sara abruptly stops during a song and walks offstage to throw up, as she later tells the crowd. She returns for a couple of songs before stumbling off again. Tegan plays two songs by herself, but ends the set at the halfway point when it becomes apparent that Sara won't return.

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4:41 p.m.: The A.V. Club briefly interviews Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie:

AVC: What band at Lollapalooza could your band take in a fight?

BG: We could kick the shit out of Tegan And Sara.

AVC: You know Sara just had to stop the show because of the heat, right?

BG: No, but I like our odds even better—four against one!

Illustration for article titled Lollapalooza 2005
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5:30 p.m.: Perry Farrell introduces The Arcade Fire as "one of the biggest bands in the world right now," possibly forgetting the existence of two or three hundred bigger bands. Maybe he's talking about the sheer number of players on stage: The justly celebrated Canadian outfit had nine, including a French horn player, a violinist, and one guy whose job seems to be smashing the shit out of a single cymbal. The Arcade Fire draws a massive number of people, and though the band's members sweat through their natty outfits while playing intimate music in a giant field, they absolutely connect.

6:27 p.m.: G. Love (he of the Special Sauce) freestyles some stilted, Lollapalooza-inspired rhymes to his crowd: "The sweat is D-R-I-P-P-I-N-G!"

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6:28 p.m.: People line up to douse themselves with a hose. On the other side of the grounds, the CTA has three city buses parked, running full-blast air conditioning for blustered and flustered patrons. It's nice.

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6:46 p.m.: A teenager dressed in a heavy hot-dog costume refills his water bottle at one of the many free water fountains. Bystanders are bewildered, impressed, and possibly sympathetic.

7:01 p.m.: Spoon seems to have the most fun with a mid-set batch of songs from the excellent new Gimme Fiction, including "I Turn My Camera On" and "Sister Jack." An empty gulf divides the indie kids here and the jammers watching Widespread Panic's first set, but the sound bleeds over occasionally. St. Louis superfan Beatle Bob, a curious showgoer who dresses in sharp suits and dances by himself, is spotted by the side of the stage.

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7:25 p.m.: As fans clear away after Widespread Panic's first performance, one disenchanted, shirtless fan complains loudly, "That was the weakest Panic set ever." Don't worry, guy, there's another one coming up later.

7:30 p.m.: Perry Farrell prefaces his Killers introduction by announcing that Lance Armstrong has "just won" his seventh consecutive Tour de France. In reality, Armstrong won before Lollapalooza got underway on Sunday, but the crowd cheers regardless. Farrell then moves on to a convoluted explanation that Armstrong may or may not be listening to a live feed from Lollapalooza. People sort of cheer. Eventually, The Killers emerge.

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7:40 p.m.: Standing dead-center at Lollapalooza prompts simultaneous enjoyment and annoyance. With The Killers at one end and The Dandy Warhols at the other, the choice isn't obvious, and it's kind of fun to take in bits of both without completely hearing either. Until, that is, Dandy singer Courtney Taylor announces that Anton Newcombe and Matt Hollywood of The Brian Jonestown Massacre will be joining his band on stage. Those familiar with the gripping documentary Dig! will understand this move as the squashing of two feuds simultaneously, the one between Hollywood and the famously, umm, insane Newcombe, and the one between the two bands. Nothing crazy happens, though, and The Dandy Warhols eventually burrow into a trying, never-ending cover of The Smiths' "What She Said." Danger takes a vacation.

7:59 p.m.: Across Columbus Drive, Lollapalooza's ignored stepchild is trying to keep up: The Planet Stage, which at this point features house guru Derrick Carter, is sparsely attended. The side stage could be Lollapalooza 2005's first casualty.

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8:25 p.m.: The Killers play "Mr. Brightside." Since cell phones are the new lighters, people dial up, raise 'em up, and share the experience. But are they SBC phones?

8:30 p.m.: The sun mercifully sets as two headliners take the stage: Death Cab For Cutie on the Budweiser Select stage (mmm, Budweiser) and Widespread Panic on the SBC West stage (mmm, SBC). Sweaty, chafed patrons begin an exodus, spent from the blaze, but generally looking happy. Death Cab For Cutie keeps it mostly gentle, playing a couple of songs from their upcoming Plans. Lollapalooza itself breathes a sigh of relief, gives itself a deserved pat on the back, and starts planning for next year.

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