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The Cure, Nine Inch Nails and a Bunch of Other Bands: An Intern's Take on Lollapalooza 2013

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On top of amazing talent and unforgettable performances, Festival Season 2013 will be remembered for the record sell outs of this country’s most popular music festivals: Coachella, Bonnaroo, and most recently, Lollapalooza. This year’s installment of Lollapalooza sold out in record time with 3 day passes going just six hours after release and single day passes selling out in mere hours as well. With a daily capacity of around 100,000 per day, Grant Park will be bursting at the seams with eager fans ready to partake in the highlight of a Chicago summer. Get ready for the fest, the food, and the Cure as I take you through the highlights, disappointments, and can’t misses of Lollapalooza 2013. I’ll even allow you to put ketchup on your hot dogs!

The Highlights

The Star Power of the Top Six

Unlike Bonnaroo and Coachella, Lollapalooza features two headliners playing at the same time on opposite ends of the park. Over the years the competing acts have been polar opposites (Wilco vs. Rage Against the Machine in 2008) to pretty similar (Muse vs. Coldplay in 2011). Generally though, there’s a clear distinction between the popularity of the two headliners. This year’s addition makes it harder for me to distinguish. All six of this year’s headliners are the top billed act at other big festivals. C3 Presents has assembled a top six to be reckoned with. Between the top 6 of The Cure, Mumford & Sons, The Killers, Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix, and the Postal Service, these artists have sold 61 million albums worldwide. So no matter which act you choose to see at the end of the night, you’re guaranteed to see an amazing performance.

The Subheadliners!

My biggest fault of Bonnaroo was the disappointing support acts that would close out side-stages or play the main stage before a headliner. Lollapalooza not only managed to avoid that, but managed to grab some currently US-exclusive performers. Some of the subheadliners are arguably headliner-worthy, too. The combined star power of these acts going into their respective headliner is incredible.

New Order -> The Killers
Queens of the Stone Age -> Nine Inch Nails

The Lumineers -> Mumford & Sons
The National -> The Postal Service

The Cure
Vampire Weekend -> Phoenix

I didn’t forget anything, either. Sunday is short an act and unless someone’s getting added, the Cure might be getting a huge chunk of time (Bestival 2011 gave them 3 hours!).

 

The Disappointments

The Leak

I get it. Things leak. Maybe a headliner or two will be revealed. Or maybe you’ll give a reporter a few ticket-moving names (cough Greg Kot cough). But when the entire lineup is leaked two weeks in advance of the announcement, there’s a problem. Lollapalooza even sent out a message that acts would be revealed leading up to the announcement, much like last year’s lyric clues hidden throughout Chicago public transit. This year felt like your friend spoiling the end of a movie right as you press play. It’s annoying. These announcements used to be fun. Remember the fill in the blank poster from 2010? Even the misguided Facebook trivia game was at least something. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we all got the lineup, but I can’t help feeling underwhelmed. A mistake happened. C3 Presents even moved the announcement up because the entire poster was put online. They leaked the whole lineup last year, too. Whoever runs their lineup security department sucks. Clearly the quality of interns is better the farther north you go.

Noticeable Absences

There were some blatant misses by the Lollapalooza crew that a lot of people assumed were locks for the fest. Veteran Lolla act the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have headlined the fest in the past, and seemed likely for a return because of their new album. Nope. Modest Mouse hasn’t played in a few years. Nope. The Flaming Lips and Deerhunter, and Smashing Pumpkins looked primed for Grant Park. Nope and nope. Japandroids, Purity Ring, Ty Segall, Wu-Tang Clan, Earl Sweatshirt. The list of acts that should have played goes on and on. There’s a ton of great stuff at the festival, but Lollapalooza decided to try booking more mainstream country acts (Eric Church, Court Yard Hounds, Houndmouth, etc.) over bringing back bands or repeating Pitchfork acts which is an interesting move.

The Cure Aren’t Playing Friday.

Is it too much to ask to hear “Friday I’m in Love” on an actual Friday? Come on!

Things You Can’t Miss

The Cure

Maybe if I say the Cure a few more times, Robert Smith will read this article.

As the number one headliner of the fest, you have to see the Cure. As their only announced US date, you have to see the Cure. Because I’m telling you to, you have to see the Cure. There’s a reason this band has sold 27 million albums worldwide and remains popular decades into their career. With hits like “Inbetween Days,” “Close to Me,” “Just Like Heaven,” and of course “Friday I’m in Love,” you’re bound to know a few tunes. If you’re new to the Cure, there’s time to start listening. Phoenix is a great band and I loved their set at Lollapalooza 2010, but they’ll be back. They might even make it up to Milwaukee on one of their tour legs. The Cure? Not so much. Their last Chicago show was in 2008. Their last Milwaukee show was 1996. Do the right thing. See the Cure.

Still no sign of Robert Smith…

Nine Inch Nails

You don’t think I would spend all this time talking about great headliners and not mention Nine Inch Nails, did you? Nine Inch Nails returns at Lollapalooza 2013. That’s a great thing to see written down. Although we only have promises of new material, Trent Reznor and company will deliver an unforgettable Friday night set. What better way to begin a fest than to be “Closer” to the “Only” person with a “Head Like a Hole”? That last one didn’t work as well. Sorry. I’ll concede something here, though. I don’t blame you if you see the Killers instead. One of my biggest personal disappointments was seeing the Killers scheduled against Nine Inch Nails. I know there’s a NIN arena tour in the works for the fall, but I’ll be damned if I miss the triumphant revival.

Queens of the Stone Age

Speaking of yet another US exclusive, Queens of the Stone Age have delivered incredible live performances for over a decade. With a new album coming out, I expect them to be even better. Josh Homme is one of the best frontmen of the last few years and I can’t wait to see his smug, charismatic demeanor in person. Looking at setlists from their first few shows of 2013, hits like “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret,” “No One Knows,” and “Little Sister” are still in the rotation, too. Fortunately if you want to see New Order instead, Homme and company like Wisconsin. They’ve played 11 times in the Badger State ranging from the Bradley Center in 2003 to the Cactus Club in 1999. New Order hasn’t played Milwaukee since 1989 at the Marcus Amphitheater. I still say you should see Queens of the Stone Age, but I’m a forgiving person.

The Food

It’s no secret that the major festivals have good grub, but I’ll be bold enough to declare Lollapalooza the king of music fest food. Some of my best memories of the festival come from taking a break and indulging in a new type of tasty deliciousness. Feeling like a burger? Kuma’s Corner is your spot. Want pizza? You’re in Chicago, enjoy the best. Feeling fancy? You should try the world famous Lobster Corndog. My personal favorites include the vegetarian burrito that I randomly bought because of low lines or the Thai shrimp sub sandwich which I also bought on a whim. Chowtown is one of the highlights of Lollapalooza, so don’t forget to stop and eat!

 

Lollapalooza 2013 takes place August 2-4 in Chicago and is completely sold out. Want to go? Donate to 88Nine during our Spring Fund Drive (March 28th-April 11th) for a chance to win two VIP passes to see the Cure, eat a lobster corndog, and hang out with your favorite 88Nine intern. Free beer, shuttle service, and premium seating is a great deal. Donate today for your chance to win!

See you in Grant Park this summer!