By Mark Guarino
Temperatures trembling above 100 degrees is how Lollapalooza was christened in Chicago. The pioneering rock festival had its share of troubled times in the past, but was resuscitated in late July to a stand-alone, two-day event in Grant Park. Over 66,000 people endured the weekend heat to take in over 50 bands playing on six stages.
Although Weezer, Widespread Panic and the Pixies were the names in bold, the more interesting fare took place during the daytime on the smaller stages. There was the unusual: Billy Idol sailing Frisbees into the crowd while sweating through leather pants and a wife beater, Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs handing vocal duties to a couple in the crowd after losing his voice, the Arcade Fire’s nine-member collective delivering gospel-intensive revelry and Ok Go ending their set with a choreographed dance routine requiring them to channel their inner Monkee.
There was nothing so cute about the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Leader Anton Newcombe heckled Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba from across the field (sound bleed between stages was a significant drawback), fed guitar feedback to the crowd for over 10 minutes a pop and later showed up to jam with the Dandy Warhols, putting their rivalry rumors to rest.
While the Pixies reunion sold tickets, the more potent veteran comeback was Dinosaur Jr. The power trio was primal to the core; their cover of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” was set to breakneck speed, with continually shifting guitar maneuverings by J. Mascis (now with a mane of gray hair) that matched the force of Lou Barlow’s howls.
Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell debuted his new band Satellite Party, featuring strutting dance beats and guitar squalls from Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme. Farrell looked elegant, prowling the stage like a limber spider and taking breaks to sip refreshments from a chalice. He was the prince of his own party — one that, in just two days, wrote a new chapter.