As the first day of Lollapalooza got started, the 90 degree sun blazed down as we made a beeline for the Perry’s stage where we chose to begin our day. I’ve attended Lollapalooza each of the last 5 years, and every year Perry’s has grown in parallel with both the crowd and the talent in the dance music lineup for this legendary Festival. Perry Farrell, frontman of Jane’s Addiction and the brainchild behind Lollapalooza, showed he’s committed to bringing dance music to the forefront of Lollapalooza again this year by booking some of the biggest acts in the world.
During the walk to Perry’s, I reflected on the transformation from a 200 person tent in 2008 to the large field, complete with two huge LED screens located halfway between the far side of the field and the stage, present this year. The stage was in the same position as last year, but, thankfully, the tent was scrapped. Last year, it got so hot in the tent that Lollapalooza was forced to remove roof panels in order to let in fresh air and provide some relief for the sweaty ravers. This year, the Lollapalooza set designers created the biggest, baddest Perry’s stage to date complete with massive LED screens behind, above and on either side of the DJ, which was more than enough to get me excited for the music to come.
One of the first acts we saw on Friday at Perry’s was Zedd. Zedd can be a difficult DJ to review because, like most of Friday’s lineup of young talent, he embraces technology in the best way: using computers and other hardware to create flawless and creative mixes that the common raver has probably never heard before.
The crowd at Perry’s was surprisingly small when we initially arrived, but it grew significantly in both size and energy over the course of Zedd’s set. In order to keep up with the crowd, Zedd went harder and harder using a combination of his own tracks while teasing tracks from other artists. I first noticed that the crowd was really starting to go crazy when Zedd teased Steve Aoki & The Bloody Beetroots- Warp 1.9 into the drop of his banger, Shotgun, which turned out to be one of the most played songs on Friday. Zedd then brought the weird by dropping a new track sampling Bill O’Reilly’s epic tirade, culminating in him saying “Fucking Thing Sucks”. Although some people told me they thought this was the best set of the day, I felt it left a lot to be desired and wasn’t nearly as explosive as his set from Ultra Music Festival.
Porter Robinson’s energetic set later in the day made Zedd look like the shy little brother. His set was full of artfully crafted bootlegs that really exhibited his creative skills. As the day went on, the crowd seemed to become younger and younger to the point where the 19 year old Porter Robinson appeared to be playing to a crowd that was 85% younger than him. Regardless, Porter Robinson’s set was heavier and more of a journey than Zedd or Madeon’s sets before him. Within his set he started out hard with Zedd- Shotgun and his bootleg of The Seconds, The Champ, Vandlism. After providing 20 minutes of heavy electro, Porter played a few tracks that were slowed down and mellow before moving into Knife Party- Destroy Them With Lazers and Major Lazer- Original Don, which re-energized the drunk high school crowd to make it through the end of his set that peaked during his drop of Unison (Knife Party Remix).
Best Set Of The Day:
After two sets that left a lot to be desired (Zedd and Madeon) and a high quality Porter Robinson set, it seemed that the crowd was perfectly primed for Nero to drop some full on dubstep and drum & bass on Perry’s, which is exactly what the young crowd of drunk and rolling whompers was looking for. Hell, it was exactly what a sober me was looking for to salvage any love I had for the dubstep genre, which was almost ripped away from me again later that night by Bassnectar. Nero has solidified themselves as one of the top dubstep groups in the dance music world and they brought their A game to Lollapalooza. The only disappointment from their set is that I was under the impression it would be a “live” set, but it turned out to be a DJ set. Nonetheless, I was able to hear about 45 minutes worth of hits before I caught the end of M83. Within that first 45 minutes, Nero played Must Be The Feeling, Promises (Skrillex remix), Angst, Recluse, Reaching Out, Skrillex- Right On Time, Innocence, Bass Cannon, a trap remix of Kanye West’s Mercy, Feel So Close (Nero Remix), and Skrillex- Right In, all in a row. To me, this was an absolute clinic in which they played dubstep, trap, drum & bass, and even touched on a bit of hardstyle.
Bassnectar. I’d seen Bassnectar twice before, and didn’t really enjoy either set so I figured I’d give him a third try. Bassnectar decided to go on about 10 minutes early, almost immediately after Nero went off stage, as the sun was going down. Bassnectar started his set with his iconic track Basshead. We were all still pretty excited at this point so we decided to move closer to the front. Unfortunately, we got there just in time for Bassnectar to start dropping some earth shaking dubstep mixed with screamo rock, which marked the beginning of my nightmare. As we fought our way out of the mob of what seemed like rolling zombie teens, I heard some points where it sounded like hip hop elements were thrown in which I thought was cool, but it quickly turned into something worse than before. Apparently I wasn’t the only member of the crowd who felt that way because I seemed to to be part of a mini exodus of people leaving the festival a mere 30 minutes into Bassnectar’s set. I actually enjoy a lot of Bassnectar songs and I think he is an extremely talented performer, but his live sound just didn’t work for me that night.
In summary, Day 1 of Lollapalooza brought a lot more highs than lows, and was an extremely fun day. You just hate to leave an event because you aren’t enjoying the headliner. We were definitely in the minority in terms of of disliking Bassnectar, as the show itself was pretty packed, but for me Nero really stole the show and made me a bigger fan than I was before.