Photos: Lollapalooza 2013 Day 1 @ Grant Park | 08.02.13

Crystal Castles live at Lollapalooza in Chicago on August 2nd, 2013. (Bryan J. Sutter)

All the way back in August one of the largest music festivals in North America, Lollapalooza, overtook the fair city of Chicago for an intense weekend featuring some of the biggest names in music. Eleven Magazine sent yours truly, along with writer Jason Robinson and fellow photog Jason Stoff to cover the event. Day one proved to be quite the experience.

Ask almost anyone who was at Lollapalooza in 2012 to describe their experience and one of the first things they’ll mention is the weather. They’ll mention the mud, the rain, and the severe weather advisory that shut the festival down for a period of time. Those covering Lollapalooza this year faced a much more fortunate situation, with temperatures barely above 80 and the sun never too hidden nor too prominent during the daytime. However, the first day was marked by the rain from the night before, leaving many spots (and more importantly, many of the photo pits) to turn into post-apocalyptic mud plains as time went on. I came up from St. Louis in a simple pair of sneakers, trusting the weather report and not planning ahead. Luckily, I was staying with one of my best friends and his girlfriend happened to work at the Doc Martin store in Wicker Park. A quick stop on the Blue Line and, at age 27, I had my first pair of boots from the world famous brand.

They proved to been a boon for that first day but breaking in a pair of boots on a 3 day festival is not for everyone. It is only for the dedicated and the masochists. Neither sort of individual looks out of place at Lollapalooza.

As one would imagine, Lollapalooza provides a great environment and line-up for photography. Everything is thought out and well done, and any sort of encountered hiccup is quickly or at least positively resolved. Honestly, it’s one of the few times I felt like a real photographer and not some sort of cancerous leach polluting the guest list with my name. It was also humbling to be allowed to accomplish the level of work I struggled to find in my own hometown, and even moreso to see bands which I had documented before their “break” do well on the various stages dotted around Grant Park. I remember seeing Imagine Dragons play to maybe 100 people at The Firebird on an incredibly small guarantee and the venue having to scrape the bottom of the barrel to even find a few locals to populate the bill. Here, Imagine Dragons played to one of the largest crowds of the festival and the feeling of their performance was incredible, so much so that when the stage’s power generator failed and the set was halted for 10 or 15 minutes, it came off like a mark of success rather than a failure.

On another stage, Deep Vally received a smaller but equally impressive reception. Like Imagine Dragons, I had seen them play to a modest crowd back home, but the duo had been attracting a ton of positive press all summer and it showed in full force at Lollapalooza. The raw energy of Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards evokes the energy of The Black Keys and the White Stripes, a fact not overlooked by many music journalists, but also a bit of the attitude and homage often found among the younger garage bands that populate the roster of Goner and Burger Records. It doesn’t hurt that their choice in wardrobe demands your undivided attention, a fact that promoted a female photographer to wittily comment with something along the lines of “Oh, this is why we’re all here.”

In the early evening, the legendary New Order came off as surprisingly casual. While Queens of the Stone Age played at the other end of the festival grounds, Bernard Sumner and his cohorts effected a cool confidence. QOTSA may still have something to prove, but New Order have become so thickly woven into the history of modern music that they can come out on stage looking not too different from a slightly confused cover band at an oyster bar and be utterly captivating.

I ended the first day of Lollapalooza with Nine Inch Nails’ first live set in the United States since 2009. The buzz from their Asia shows was intense, notably for the minimalist stage set-up inspired by a series of Talking Heads shows from the 80s. Obviously, this was very cool except for the fact that the photo pit had become quite possibly one of the largest stretches of mud that I’ve ever encountered. Getting from one side of 50+ other photographers to the other while keeping your footing while getting pushed back by security guards ended up being incredibly intense. Due to the paperwork I signed to shoot Nine Inch Nails I am limited in the ways in which I can present my photos of their performance, but you can check out a few shots in Jason Robionson’s write-up for day one on Eleven by clicking here.

Expect day 2 to be up soon. I leave you with a photo of Ghost BC’s Papa Emeritus.

See the full set of photos from day 1 of Lollapalooza 2013 featuring New Order, Imagine Dragons, Crystal Castles, Father John Misty, Ghost BC, Deep Vally, IO Echo and Robert Delonge by clicking here or by checking out the gallery below.

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