Lollapalooza 2014 – Day Three Recap and Exclusive Photos
Rain. It has the potential to ruin a perfectly good music festival. But if everyone somehow accepts the downpour for its natural beauty and rejoices in the drenching deluge and subsequent landscape of endless mud, the outcome can be overwhelmingly positive. Such was the case on Sunday at Lollapalooza – the fest’s third and final day – when heavy off-and-on showers culminated into several of the weekend’s most raucous sets.
That rule didn’t necessarily apply to London Grammar’s early afternoon performance. The trio’s melodic electro-pop was actually a bit snoozy by fest standards, but gentle precipitation followed by the sun’s reappearance mid-set did add to the music’s ethereal feel.
But then, just as Cage the Elephant took the main stage, the rain got significantly more intense. It was acutely fitting given the band’s insanely high energy, which transformed the relatively clean recorded sounds of their albums, including plenty from last year’s ‘Melophobia,’ into wildly frenetic jams.
If you think you gave into the inclement conditions and let loose, you should've seen frontman Matt Shultz. On numerous occasions, he leapt from the stage and launched himself into the audience, occasionally throwing himself onto the muddied ground to thrash around until his once-white pants were almost completely brown. And when the rest of the band left the stage, he wasn’t done. Donning a Chicago Bulls hat stolen from a fan during one of his crowd-surfing sessions, the singer crawled across the stage, grabbed a droning guitar and scraped his microphone across it until he’d created a satisfactory level of distorted feedback. Cage is one of those that owes mother nature a nod for a wet ‘n’ wild boost that resulted in one of the weekend's most enthralling runs.
The Avett Brothers likewise drew a veritable sea of fans to the same stage, sparking tears that mixed seamlessly with raindrops when they dipped into highly emotive tunes like 'Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise.' Also, major bonus points for three choice covers: Sam Cooke’s ‘You Send Me,’ George Jones’ ‘The Race Is On’ and, for the finale, Harry Belafonte’s ‘Jump in the Line.’
Still, no artist took advantage of the rain as masterfully as Childish Gambino. People want to write off the rapper (born Donald Glover) as a comedian playing at something that’s not his forte, but such a notion is downright foolish. He’s a masterful performer and proved it this day when – as the storm hit harder than it had all afternoon – he jumped straight into the crowd as he kicked off his set with ‘I. Crawl,’ inciting a literal stampede of people in his direction
With that, as pyro exploded around him and water fell in quarter-sized drops, he asserted himself as a contender for a spot among Lolla's all-time rap royalty. Despite releasing a particularly eccentric sophomore album, last year’s ‘Because the Internet,’ Glover deserves major kudos for a production that was impressive without hitting Kanye levels of excess – he’s the real-deal millennial rapper.
The following, final sets of the day were less rousing than Friday or Saturday’s, but Young the Giant nevertheless inspired massive singalongs, and top headliners Kings of Leon held an arena’s worth of fans rapt for their fest-closing show. The latter band’s latest album, last September’s ‘Mechanical Bull,’ didn’t add much spice to a sound that’s become increasingly monotone since the group abandoned its garage ethos for soaring pop-rock circa 2008. But there was redemption in the group’s Radiohead-level light show and a guest spot by an incredible group of string players that added spine-tingling beauty to older cuts like 'Milk' and 'Knocked Up.'
It wasn’t quite the life-changing sendoff that every music festival needs to leave an impression to withstands the ages. That said, attendees won’t easily forget the epic splendor of so many acts that wowed throughout the three-day event – Outkast's and Eminem's performances alone were enough to make this Lollapalooza one for the books.