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Lollapalooza 2013 Day 1 Recap: Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age Show ‘Em How It’s Done

Nine Inch Nails Lollapalooza 2013 day 1
Theo Wargo, Getty Images

As the gates opened Friday (Aug. 2) for Lollapalooza 2013 in Chicago, plenty of fest-goers were left wishing they had worn more practical footwear, as patches of mud and long end-to-end walks had many sleeping under trees before sun down. The day, and its rewards, belonged to the more intrepid see-everything-on-the-schedule-type person, since the festival’s six stages offered up world-class acts in quick succession — and direct conflict.

Friday’s lineup brought together a collection of virtuoso talents, two of whom are the sole principle members of their respective legendary bands. Lollapalooza day one made everyone’s inner-teenager smile. Here’s what went down.

Chris Rotolo

Someone’s Gotta Help Him Dig

It’s been an interesting summer for Father John Misty, as his 21st Century Jim Morrison stage persona has enraptured some and grated on others. It all depends on how seriously you’re willing to take his banter.

“I’d like to take a moment out to recognize Lollapalooza’s big sponsor: unicorns,” said the wiry frontman, tongue firmly in cheek.

What can’t be argued, however, is the raw, fiery emotion that pervades Father John Misty’s festival sets, as he seamlessly transitions from rambling troubadour to an artist of incredible sincerity simply by employing his resonating vibrato. Set closer ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ nearly brought total destruction to the stage, as J. Tillman thrashed and slammed his microphone, leaving everything out before heading off.

Chris Rotolo

Darkness Descends In the Day Time

In one of the day’s more intriguing bits of scheduling, Crystal Castles, who usually perform in dark, strobe-lit rooms, embraced the sunlight and played to a huge crowd at 4PM one of Lolla’s two main stages. Blonde frontwoman Alice Glass crawled out armed with cigarettes and a bottle of Jameson, and she took a long pull from each before leaping up into a re-worked ‘Plague.’ One would the high stage barrier would prevent Glass from launching herself into the crowd, as she is wont to do nearly every gig this Canadian electro-duo plays, but that wasn’t the case. Glass made it a point to get up close and personal as she stalked down the catwalk, slathering herself in mud. The only regrettable thing about Crystal Castles’ Lollapalooza 2013 appearance was the lack of coordination with the Cure, who play Sunday. Robert Smith and Alice Glass dueling on ‘Not In Love’ — their collaboration from 2010 — would have made for an instantly classic moment.

Theo Wargo, Getty Images

Going With The Flow

Easily making the short list for “set of the day” honors, Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age turned in an absolute crowd-pleaser of a performance, showcasing their new album ‘…Like Clockwork’ and giving each band member plenty of room to flex his muscles.

“We’ve been looking forward to catching up with you for a while,” said Homme through a desert-cowboy smirk.

Set against early classics like ‘No One Knows’ and ‘First It Giveth,’ such new tunes as the adrenaline-pumping ‘My God Is the Sun’ and ‘If I Had a Tail,’ with its elephant-size groove, displayed QOTSA’s evolved aesthetic.

“I kind of like the clouds,” mused Homme, looking skyward mid-set. “On days like this you just have to go with the flow.”

Thus signaled the closing pairing of ‘Flow’ and ‘A Song for The Dead,’ which featured guitar hero solos, thundering percussion, and ghostly harmonies.

Not Looking For The Cure

Although Lollapalooza sold out months ago, the recent revelation that the innovative lighting setup for Nine Inch Nails‘ upcoming string of festival dates will be entirely different from the one they use on their subsequent arena tour likely sent many diehards scrambling for tickets. This, it seems, was good news for scalpers, as many NIN-shirt-clad fans also sported Friday-only wristbands. There was little doubt that Trent Reznor and co. would deliver as the reformed band ripped through a blazing, brilliant presentation of sound and vision. One wouldn’t normally expect to see girls with LED hula hoops embrace the industrial rockers, but the career-spanning set offered something for everyone, as assaulting blasts mixed with sinister, bubbling electronica, catching the ear of the EDM crowd.

Every song came with its own unique backdrop and staggering light show tailored to its mood. Reznor disappeared into smoke and stood behind pushed-together screens for a close-up on ‘Closer,’ and during ‘Head Like a Hole,’ the band summoned the last bits of energy from the sapped crowd, just before the massive singalong to usual set closer ‘Hurt.’

Without taking a bow, Reznor walked off with a noticeable charge in his step, as did the hordes of people headed for the exits and leaving Lollapalooza 2013 day one with plenty to take home.

Check Out Additional Photos of Ghost B.C., Brick + Mortar, Father John Misty and Crystal Castles

Chris Rotolo
Chris Rotolo
Chris Rotolo
Chris Rotolo

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