“Welcome weirdos!” was Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell‘s message at the 10AM press conference that kicked off the 20th anniversary of the festival yesterday morning (Aug. 5) in Chicago’s Grant Park. “In 1991, I expected about 10,000 weirdos,” the dapper Farrell said. “Now I’m proud to say we have 90,000 weirdos!” Yeah, we know. Dozens of colorful, yet desperate fans were perched outside the Michigan Avenue entrances all day, asking for “just one” ticket for the sold out fest like it was a Grateful Dead show. But of course, the real action happened in the park. Here are our favorite moments from Lolla’s first day.
1. Coldplay made the most of its debut Lollaplooza appearance, delivering an explosive headlining set that lit up the Chicago sky like the 4th of July. “This is our first show in America in a long time, so we’re going to give it everything we have,” said Chris Martin at the start of the band’s 90-minute set. The quartet kept its promise, entrancing the crowd with blinding pyrotechnics and cascading lasers as they bounded through hit after anthemic, hand-waving hit. Coldplay debuted new material from their forthcoming album, and closed the set with a vibrant rendition of their latest single “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall.” But the moment to write home about was Martin’s hushed take on Amy Winehouse‘s “Rehab” — a poignant tribute that transitioned into their heart-tugging ballad “Fix You” and left every eye on the festival field a little bit misty.
2. The Winehouse tributes weren’t limited to the stage. The ink looked barely dry on Lolla-goer Megan Swari’s calf tattoo, which featured a portrait of Winehouse and the lyric “Are you still dizzy?” from her song “Valerie.” Swari said she ran out to get the tat (by New Mexico artist Boy of Ascension Body Modifications) the day after Winehouse tragically passed away a couple of weeks ago.
3. Fresh after Tinie Tempah‘s debut at Lollapalooza (which he claimed was the best festival he’s been to), the British rapper took to Chicago club Subterranean for his official aftershow performance. Tinie kept the crowd entertained with a set that included “Written in the Stars,” his Wiz Khalifa collaboration “‘Til I’m Gone,” U.K. drum’n’bass hit “Pass Out,” and a remix of fellow Brit Taio Cruz‘s “Dynamite.” But the crowd favorite was undoubtedly his energetic performance of “Miami 2 Ibiza,” his club-banging track with Swedish House Mafia.
4. When klaxon sirens rang across the field at dusk, warning that Muse was about to take the stage, thousands were sent sprinting to the Music Unlimited stage to get a closer look at the band’s stunning spectacle. And while Muse’s epic alt-rock easily kept the fans rapt — witness frontman Matthew Bellamy leading the healthy singalong on opener “Uprising” — the massive fireworks display that bloomed in the sky above the band likely caught the attention of everyone within a 5-mile radius.
5. Everyone hates porta-potties, but apparently not quite as much as Pete Wentz. The in-demand rocker was so eager to be on time for his Billboard.com interview that he took a leak in the bushes behind our media tent rather than high-tailing it to the johns. Half-hour an hour later, Wentz shook our hands (ew!) before heading off to his Black Cards set on the BMI stage.
6. Girl Talk minced words with Lolla organizers toward the end of his headlining set in Perry’s dance tent. With 15 minutes left, he was forced offstage (reportedly because of vague “stage problems”) — a move he called “some f*cked-up shit.” “I don’t like this concentrated electronic shit,” he added, saying that he quite preferred playing on a stage with artists of all genres instead of alongside all DJs. Greg Gillis (aka, Girl Talk) won in the end: he came back to the stage and rocked the crowd with new Queen and Katy Perry mash-ups until his 10 p.m. curfew.
7. L.A. indie-dance trio Foster the People kept hips shaking during its sun-soaked afternoon set. The crowd packed the stage for the upbeat dance-guitar grooves, but fans also got a throwback treat when they dusted off Neil Young‘s 1972 classic “Heart of Gold.”
8. Groggy rockers hovering near the media area snack bar were ready for photographers snapping pics and journalists hounding them for quotes. But no one was prepared for the gatecrasher who scaled the press fence in an attempt to bumrush his way into the festival grounds during Delta Spirit’s main-stage set. The long-jumping scofflaw was quickly apprehended by security and ushered off the premises.
9. U.K. rockers The Vaccines got the Lollaplooza party started and provided the first set of the day over on the massive Music Unlimited stage. Frontman Justin Young made sure that the fans filing into Grant Park would know exactly who was rocking the stage by wearing his own band shirt on the stage.
10. “Irish people aren’t supposed be in this kind of heat,” joked Two Door Cinema Club‘s Alex Trimble. “And neither are gingers, so I’m dying up here.” The flame-haired frontman’s decision to wear a dark-blue blazer during his band’s balmy 4PM set certainly didn’t help his sweaty situation, but the high temperature didn’t discourage the trio, who again proved itself a festival favorite. The band delivered its bright and bubbly Britpop tunes with a confidence earned from three solid years on the road, and even test drove a brand-new song, “Sleep Alone,” on their sun-kissed fans.
11. We wouldn’t have picked OK Go as Lollapalooza’s premiere stoner act, but there was more than bit of herbage floating around during the group’s colorful, early evening set at the very green Google+ stage — a fact that was not lost on frontman Damian Kulash. “It’s wafting off of you, the sinfulness,” he joked at one point during the set.
12. During Bright Eyes early evening set on the Bud Light main stage, frontman Conor Oberst introduced his latest single “Shell Games” by telling the crowd, “This one’s for the phonies here today. There’s a couple up here, too.” We didn’t realize Holden Caulfield (“The Catcher in the Rye”) was playing Lolla!
13. Grace Potter made it her mission to work the word “Lollapalooza” into her band’s midday set over at the Bud Light stage. The most impressive insertion was Potter subbing in the festival’s name for the “oh la la’s” in the Nocturnals’ hit “Paris.” The stunning rock songstress made no less than three wardrobe changes throughout the day, though she ditched her gold-studded stilettos to go barefoot on the stage.
14. Sign-language interpreters were positioned at the foot of each of the main stage to translate the headliners’ dramatic words to deaf fans. But even the hearing festival-goers took notice when one of the women dramatically signed the words to Jay-Z‘s “99 Problems” right before Coldplay kicked off their set, inspiring enthusiatic applause from the crowd.
15. Folks from the reality show “Ace of Cakes” stood sidestage during indie-folk duo Wye Oak‘s mid-day performance at the Sony tent. While it may seem a bit random, both the band and the Charm City Cakes staffers rep Baltimore. The “Ace of Cakes” personalities were also on hand for Perry Farrell’s 10AM press conference, making sure they didn’t miss any of the day’s fun.