As I geared up to leave for Lollapalooza Day 2, I was most excited by the prospect of seeing my favorite dubstep DJ’s, Skream & Benga, live for the first time. Except when I peered outside, the sky was looking more and more ominous by the minute. It was looking to be a wet one reminiscent of the torrential rain that fell when Deadmau5 took to the stage during Lollapalooza 2011. Then my dreams of seeing two dubstep pioneers was ripped by a single tweet from Lollapalooza:
Considering it was 3:30PM, Skream & Benga’s 5:45PM time slot was definitely in Jeopardy, and it was confirmed on twitter by Skream (legal name: Oliver Jones) himself. As everyone kept an eye on the sky, the bars in the River North area near our hotel were filling as quickly as the sky was darkening. When the clouds finally open, between the whipping wind and sideways rain, I was happy that Lollapalooza had been evacuated for safety reasons. An hour and a half later, the weather started to let up and the tweets started rolling in announcing that Lollapalooza officials were surveying the grounds to see if the festival could be reopened. Much to my delight, Lolla announced it would re-open at 6pm with shows starting back up at 6:30.
Skream & Benga were supposed to play at 5:45, and their set was pushed back to 6:45 so we were able to enjoy the sounds of the dons of dubstep. The festival security made a great decision in altering their entrance procedure by only checks that you had a wristband. If they had attempted to follow their usual process, we would probably still be waiting in line. Just like day 1, we made a beeline for Perry’s stage excited to finally hear some music. The walk to the stage felt a bit like a minefield due to the giant puddles of mud left and right that we had to dodge so as not to slip or cover ourselves in mud, which is something too many people (in my opinion) enjoyed doing. When we arrived at Perrys, a massive mudpit had formed directly behind the sound tent and people were sliding head first into the mud, as well as engaging in greco-roman raver mud wrestling. This birthed a group we dubbed the “mud people,” who most people avoided like the plague. Not only did these mud people seem to want to get other people muddy, they smelled terrible and were just overall unpleasant to be around.
As Skream & Benga started their set, their dreadlocked emcee took to the stage to get the crowd hyped. From a quick poll of the people around me, I gathered that everyone either hated or loved the emcee. I was in the latter group. He did a great job of hyping the crowd, in keeping with the UK tradition of emcees in dubstep and DnB, but wasn’t as obnoxious and overdone as “hypemen” like Lil Jon. Skream & Benga dropped their own brand of UK dubstep that was faster paced, more interesting and significantly more enjoyable than the other dubstep sets we saw that weekend. Then, right on cue, Skream & Benga dropped Harlem Shake by Baauer, one of the best trap songs out right now, and Major Lazer’s Original Don. Throughout the set, it seemed that Skream & Benga had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands, and ended their banger of a set by playing Nirvana- Smells Like Teen Spirit. The ending had me, as well as everyone else that had lived through the grunge rock era of the early 90′s, absolutely jacked up and wishing for more.
Having to follow Skream & Benga meant Calvin Harris had some big shoes to fill, but he seemed up for the challenge. Matching the heavy sounds that had preceded him, Calvin Harris decided to open up with Les Petits Pilous- Wake Up, which is an electro heavy track I love. Throughout his set, I was surprised to see how much bigger his light show seemed to be than every set I had seen prior to him at Lollapalooza. Unfortunately, Calvin’s popularity also brought a large crowd of drunk and pushy kids, who make every set unenjoyable unless you were near the back of the crowd with room to move. The young crowd that was out in full force on Friday and Saturday apparently didn’t understand the Respect part of PLUR, as they obviously didn’t even have the respect to refrain from trying to push everyone around. Regardless, after all of the electro house and dubstep that had been at Perry’s all weekend, the large amount of progressive house that Calvin played was a welcome change. Calvin easily had the most diverse set jumping between hard electro, progressive vocal house, and even a little bit of dubstep. As expected, Calvin dropped a flurry of progressive house bangers with Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso – Calling, Nicky Romero & David Guetta – Metropolis, Calvin Harris – Feel So Close, and ended with In My Mind (Axwell Remix).
After hiking across the festival and weaving through the droves of people flocking to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers, we finally made it to Avicii to see the stage we had heard so much about. If you haven’t heard about it, Tim Bergling, better known as Avicii, has created a massive stage consisting of a huge white head with him perched on top. Avicii has received a lot of criticism lately due to the lack of creativity within his DJ sets, and I personally feel that he is a much better producer than DJ, but his hit filled sets make you feel too good to pass up. As expected, Avicii played a hit filled set that included his tracks Bad Things (from his moniker Tim Berg), Levels, Superlove, and his most recent hit Last Dance. Oddly enough, the biggest disappointment was his stage. I felt it was a huge attempt at being creative and bringing a new element, but just fell more into the weird category. If the top of the head lifted off and flew through the air as we have seen on youtube, I might have thought differently. Day 2 left me with a lackluster feeling from the headliners for the second day in a row, although Avicii was a major improvement from Bassnectar the night before.
Overall: the weather on Day 2 really threw a wrench in everyone’s plans, but Lolla officials did a great job of shuffling sets so that very few were cancelled. The worst aspects of the day were the large mud pits and the young, pushy crowds, who seemed determined to shove through the most densely packed areas of the crowd just to leave 5 minutes later. Luckily, if you went towards the back of the crowd, these problems were easily remedied. The one exception to this rule was Red Hot Chili Peppers, who gathered the largest crowd seen all weekend. Despite the early chaos, it was a great day for music and I didn’t see a single set that didn’t live up to expectations.