Re-Lolla’D

Transformed by over 240,000 fans across three days, the stretch of land encompassing Grant Park and the loop-side lakefront became an omega point for this summer’s music festivals. By day three the city had broken curfew with Billy Joe, crowd-surfed a fishnet brandishing Gaga, and exploded over an Edward Sharpe show that ejected the band out of the blogosphere of indie music and into its stratosphere. Sunday began with rain, with hesitation, but it culminated in a coda of thousands chanting the chorus of “Wake Up” walking past the police and the halted traffic, creating the most cathartic mob scene Michigan Avenue has ever hosted.

The Antlers opened on the Budweiser stage to a poignant scenery of grey Midwestern skies above and rain drenched feet beneath. In the writer’s urgency to stay hydrated and support the host of the stage he was unable to catch the bulk of their set, but it sounded crisp and the band who made one of 2009’s most insightful concept albums (Hospice) was well received. Fans began scurrying for ponchos and garbage bags to prepare for the inevitable monsoon but because of how young the day was most were unconcerned with the weather and more so with finding the necessary equipment for an illuminated viewing of MGMT’s set.

Festival Sundays are meant to be a wind down, but once the dragonflies amassed for Blitzen Trapper’s set all bets for a breezy ride were off. “Furr” got the crowd jolting in unison (appealing to the crowd’s youthful side, “When I was only seventeen”) after a set that offered more for the contemplative and psych-folk types. They sounded like a  Pacific Northwest Widespread Panic bastard-child on less mushrooms and more Quaaludes, making it a very “dig-able” set given the scorching sun that had just recently found parking in the sky. The crowd was mingling after a ginger-mullet guitarist of BT bid us farewell, as talk of MGMT and Arcade Fire united everyone in an effort to push forward to the fence and look onward to the rest of the day.

Yeasayer was hyped non-stop by the hipsters from Brooklyn and fab girls from Philly who seemed to penetrate all the breathable air around me. 2080 was phenomenal to hear live, but their lack of embracing the free-love vibe of the affair with “Red Cave” as a closer created a snippet of animosity in my heart. For a second. Really their set, along with most of the all day sonic endeavors I have attended, taught me to appreciate my height more than anything else in the world. The layer of air that mingles within a 30,000 person crowd is acrid and dripping with sweat-festered microbes that have been dragged about the continent via whirlwind disco-danceoffs and festival day trips.  My height created an escape hatch to the bustling clarity of a summer’s breeze, and between my gasps of salvation I was unable to determine if I agreed with the direction that Yeasayer were headed given their set at such an event. Funny thing is, I don’t think they gave a shit about it either.

Monitors and smart phones across the park relayed a message of heightened security levels just about ten minutes before MGMT came out. Not that it would have mattered even if they did; bedlam only breeds more bedlam. MGMT was a BIG name with my constituency on the lawn and the energy surging about the first ten rows was nuclear. I may have aided and abetted in the crowdsurfing of at least  200 people over my head. No joke (I remember a brief instance of peace (in my mind) where a young Volcom wearing hipster turned to me and my research compadre and begged us to lift him up to safety, “Man, I just can’t be here anymore”) My younger siblings and the high school heavy crowd loved them,and it wouldn’t require a Ciceronian discourse to argue that Lolla was a ripe scene for who their music was reaching (but not necessarily who it was intended for). I clamped any and all irritations caused by the miniature fuckheaded flashdancing sixteen year olds engrossing me and embraced the music as I remembered first finding it in a college dorm room five years ago, stoned and fascinated. The serenity and tranquility of The Youth and Weekend Wars made a beautiful contrast to the unholy sea of fleshy madness I was entwined in. At that point I was alone and shoving bitches to avoid being trampled, and when Time to Pretend wrapped up I had next to nothing left for Kids. I let myself shift twenty or so rows back to recoup with my associates. I was spent from six hours in the heat, but the conflict between my body and the environment, my body and other bodies, my mind and my body…ad infuckingfinitum…allowed my soul to careen up an exhilarating crescendo, inching towards a galactic dosage of catharsis you could just sense Arcade Fire would bring. That they would HAVE to bring.

Lightspeed through meat taco’s ( I nearly said grace I was that elated to eat), lounging in some VIP chairs (thank you 93.1XRT Lounge), recycling rounds of water (fuck you Dasani for the understaffed station and the long lines), eavesdropping in on the end of The National’s set  (Mr. November clawed and gnarled, fucking elegant) and a quick joint (no explanation required). Win Butler stands before a plain of weary but hopeful searchers of the soul, and it begins. Arcade Fire was put on earth by baby Jesus to play Lolla, pure and simple. Their sound was absolutely built for 50,000 people to be oohing and aahing between orchestral build-ups and lead-heavy rock-outs. They plugged their freshest album (“Roccoco” ‘s satirical concept would give Twain a hard on) but kept their rusty guns close at hand(Haiti, Keep the Car Running). I think everyone on the northside of the city figured them to close with Wake Up, but no one south east or west could have anticipated the overwhelming nature of the audience’s impassioned response. Hairs stood on end, feet sprang free, eons of bad karma were extinguished in an instant. We took the sound from the park after bidding our hero’s good-bye and marched out after our 10PM curfew with middle fingers pointed at cops and falsetto voices ringing out the chorus to the encore, droning out nearby teetering L trains and frustrated cabbies and beeping cars. We had won, finally, and from the front gates of Friday to our respective Sunday nightstands, we had almost been as one.

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