Lollapalooza Day 2 Recap: Postal Service, Mumford and Sons + the National Shine Bright
With ears still ringing from Nine Inch Nails‘ blistering comeback set on Friday night, fans returning Saturday for day two of Lollapalooza 2013 were greeted with breezy, spring-like conditions. The unseasonable temperatures helped to alleviate some potential stress, as the schedule for the Grove stage was thrown all out of whack by cancellations from Death Grips and Azealia Banks, which impacted start times for St. Lucia, HAIM and others. Still, day two of Lolla ’13 will be remembered for its series of triumphant — and perhaps even once-in-a-lifetime — moments. Here’s what happened.
It may be hard to believe, but occasionally, artists at music festivals run into friends and work colleagues. Such was when Local Natives took the Red Bull Sound Select stage, ready to disseminiate their soothing, layered harmonies. Spotting the National‘s Aaron Dessner, who produced the Natives’ latest album, ‘Hummingbird,’ walking in the press area to his left, singer Taylor Rice took a moment out to throw some love his way, with a little help from some friends.
“On the count of three, I want everybody to go, ‘Hi Aaron’!” Rice urged.
No word on whether Dessner got the message, but you have to feel bad for whoever was trying to interview him at the time. Rice would go on to dedicate standout ‘Heavy Feet’ to his Dessner.
A little later on, Kendrick Lamar, backed by a full band, halted his raucous main-stage throw down to recognize and ensure the safe passage of a wheelchair-bound crowd surfer.
“This is your moment,” said Lamar, pointing at the excited fan, who made it into the photo pit, where he stayed for the remainder of the set. It was impossible not to smile when the large screens on either side of the stage showed him rocking out during “Swimming Pools (Drank).”
The inevitable and unavoidable conflicts that arise at large-scale music festivals are the bane of many a fan’s existence. Such was the case when Foals and the National went head to head from opposite sides of hard-to-traverse Grant Park. If you managed to catch both, you encountered two premier rock bands working at their respective peaks. Foals captured the attention, and a large audience waiting for Kendrick Lamar, with their intricate instrumentation, as heard on ‘My Number,’ as well as bombastic arena blasts of ‘Inhaler.’
Meanwhile, the National continued to prove why they’ve graduated to playing larger venues. The crescendo-packed orchestrations of the Dessner brothers made an impact all the way back to Buckingham Fountain, and amid the epic sprawl — not to mention Bryan Devendorf’s impeccable percussion work — singer Matt Berninger turned the stage into his own personal space for confessions and lamentations. With a head swirling with wine, Berninger employed his famous baritone to an arresting effect, and on ‘Abel’ and ‘Afraid of Everyone,’ his sincerity bubbled over, inspiring impassioned screams.
Although they’ve seemingly conquered just about everything in their path on their way to global fame, Mumford and Sons strode out for their headlining set with something to prove. Following the unfortunate cancellation of their Bonnaroo appearance in June — the result of bassist Ted Dwane needing emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain — Lollapalooza stood as the primary opportunity for the band to make a lasting impression on a huge American festival audience. Buoyed by a full compliment of backing musicians, the Mumfords’ sweeping arrangements came fully alive, and the audience gave the energy right back, singing along to every line.
That recent health scare, it seems, was a bump, not a derailment, and the band delivered a king-making, firework-laden performance, the likes of which we’ll be seeing for years and years to come.
Everything Looks Perfect From Far Away
As much as Mumford and Sons dominated, the night truly belonged to the Postal Service, whose reunion transcends mere nostalgia. Initially, it was a bit of a head-scratcher when the duo booked arenas for the tour celebrating the tenth anniversary of ‘Give Up,’ their lone album, but given the scale, charm and rehearsed perfection of their electro-pop presentation, it makes perfect sense.
“Hope to see some of you tomorrow at Metro,” co-leader Ben Gibbard said, referencing one of Chicago’s best-known rock venues. “It’ll be the last one ever!”
The dynamic interaction between Gibbard, Jenny Lewis, Jimmy Tamborello and touring member Laura Burhenn was nothing short of arresting. Amid glimmers of overwhelming electronic bliss, a feeling of romanticism swept over the crowd. Women shrieked and couples made out, and the emotional zenith came when Gibbard and Lewis, awash in gold light, swayed back and forth with their guitars as if engaged in a private slow dance.
Although the experience was bittersweet, everyone watching the Postal Service’s penultimate bow received long-awaited catharsis in ‘Such Great Heights’ and closer ‘Brand New Colony,’ which found Lewis and Gibbard rousing the crowd into one last chorus of “Everything will change.” Here’s hoping Gibbard rethinks that “last one ever” thing.
Check Out Additional Photos of Lollapalooza 2013 Day Two