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Fans get drenched, thrashed by Foo Fighters in Lollapalooza finale

Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters performs Lollapalooza. | TamarBell~Sun Times Media

Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters performs at Lollapalooza. | Tamara Bell~Sun Times Media

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:23AM



Hannah Frudden was at the Perry’s rave tent when the rain came Sunday evening. “It was the best 30 minutes of my life!” said the 19-year-old Northwestern student, exuberant despite being covered head to toe in mud. As she stood along a sidewalk near the main Lollapalooza stages, every other passerby noticed her condition and gave her high-fives and hugs.

Jesse Warmling, 39, in from Dallas, surrendered gladly to one of the downpours, which only slightly delayed Sunday’s concert schedule on the final evening of this three-day music festival in Grant Park. “We haven’t seen rain for months in Texas,” Warmling said. “I’ll take it any way and anywhere.”

Fans — a lot of fans, as Lollapalooza is a record sell-out this year at 90,000 each day — took cover under tents and trees when the rain hit, seeking shelter however they could. One group raided an abandoned crew cart for its cargo of plastic garbage bags that became handy ponchos in a pinch. Thousands streamed toward the exits.

Performing at the Petrillo shell, Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Shultz looked out and marveled at the sight of “20,000 people taking a shower together.” On a side stage, Best Coast played on despite the weather, even as the grove near the stage became a constellation of muddy lakes.

When British band Arctic Monkeys took the main stage at 6:30 p.m., a half hour late, the rain had nearly stopped — and a rainbow framed the stage. “We’re gonna push through this,” singer Alex Turner said. The band rushed through an abbreviated set, but at least included the song “She’s Thunderstorms,” from its newest album, dedicating it “to Mother Nature.”

Foo Fighters

When the rain hit early in the Foo Fighters’ headlining set, Dave Grohl scared it away.

Starting their set on the heels of Explosions in the Sky across the field, the Foo Fighters — the band started 16 years ago by former Nirvana member Grohl — slammed into “Bridges Burning,” from the band’s acclaimed new album “Wasting Light,” and hurried into “Rope” as dark clouds amassed again in the northwest. By the time they launched into “My Hero,” their fourth song, the floodgates had opened. Torrents drowned the throng and produced a perfect rock ’n’ roll moment.

“I don’t give a f--- if it’s raining,” Grohl declared after the band had noodled through the song’s ending, supported by the crowd, who had made their decision and kept singing. Grohl’s ferocity on stage — swigging a beer, whipping his wet hair around wildly, leaping and growling and shouting — pushed through the brief storm, eventually singing in “Arlandria,” “Come again some other day.”

Midway through the band’s full set, Grohl thanked the crowd for sticking with him and sang “Times Like These” by himself, celebrating the special moment.

Thomas Conner

Deadmau5

This was the year dance music at Lollapalooza achieved something approaching parity with rock. Its permanent home, Perry’s stage, became a supersized tent drawing crowds well in excess of its 15,000-person capacity, and on Sunday night an electronic producer, Deadmau5, was given a headlining slot opposite Foo Fighters.

The day’s second torrential downpour raked the park just as Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) took the stage, but he wasn’t deterred. Neither were his fans, who fast turned the soggy field into a pulsing dance floor. Sporting variations on his signature headgear — a mask with large, Mickey-like ears and vacant eyes — he spun a ceaseless mix of staccato rhythm tracks layered with time- and pitch-shifted sounds that suggested robotic burps, watery squelches or springing rubber bands. Occasionally he spliced in bits of movie dialogue or lyrics like Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”

Anders Smith Lindall

The Cars

Capping a noticeable 1980s vibe running throughout the festival, the Cars played a typically solid but staid set Sunday afternoon. Opening with their classic “Let the Good Times Roll,” the most sedate party anthem ever, the reunited quartet (sans original singer-bassist Ben Orr, who died in 2000) seesawed between MTV-era hits — “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “You Might Think,” “Magic,” “Let’s Go,” etc. — and tracks from their new album, “Move Like This.” As usual, Ric Ocasek hardly moved, and the set glided along with great songs but zero showmanship. “I like the nightlife, baby,” Ocasek sang as he squinted into the late afternoon sun.

Thomas Conner

The Joy Formidable

You never know when or where a star will be born, but a massive festival is as likely a place as any. It happened Sunday afternoon when Ritzy Bryan, the slight but magnetic front woman of Welsh threesome the Joy Formidable, capped a terrific set of moody, anthemic rock with a memorably cathartic freakout, time and again bashing and finally throwing her electric guitar against an enormous gong.

That triumphant meltdown ensured people will be talking about Bryan, but the Joy Formidable was one the best things seen all weekend in its own right. A classic trio with Bryan on guitar, Rhydian Dafydd on bass and Matt Thomas on drums, they built long, slow shoegaze swells as Bryan sang in a gauzy tone that belied her pinball stage presence. The Joy Formidable won’t break new ground — the Jesus & Mary Chain is an obvious antecedent — but there’s always room for another heart-on-sleeve rock ’n’ roll band that really means it, and Bryan is clearly one to watch.

Anders Smith Lindall

Titus Andronicus

As Big Audio Dynamite was the day before, New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus Celtic-tinged punk proved to be Sunday’s most socially relevant voice, crowing its resigned and occasionally paranoid lyrics about a U.S. of A. that’s a shell of its former self. Their influences may be British punk and Irish pub rock, but their outlook is very American — even in the fans, who shouted “U-S-A!,” especially when singer-guitarist Patrick Stickles soloed so hard the U.S. flag tied to the end of his guitar actually waved in the light afternoon breeze. Lamenting in his choking yawps how we continually squander “the value our forefathers gave you,” Stickles’ nervously darting eyes eventually always bring it back home to more personal questions: “Is there a soul on this earth who isn’t too frightened to move?” Finally, Stickles shouted a hundred times during “No Future, Pt. 3,” ringing over Grant Park, “You will always be a loser!” — changing it up once to “You will always Lollapalooza!”

Thomas Conner

Eminem

Eminem took to Lollapalooza’s main stage Saturday night and encapsulated his entire career into one sizzling 90-minute set. Joined by a few noteworthy guests, the Detroit rapper launched a consistent barrage of recognizable tunes and furious rhymes into the largest crowd ever assembled at the annual concert festival in Chicago’s Grant Park.

Eminem dished hits one after another, sometimes in abbreviated form, reaching all the way back to “The Slim Shady LP.” Prowling the stage in a hoodie, Em proved deft as ever with his famously furious rhymes (misogynistic and homophobic as they sometimes are), spitting out “No Love” and “The Way I Am” with such tenacity and urgency you wouldn’t think there was a decade between them.

Midway through the set, Em was joined by omnipresent tunesmith Bruno Mars, who sang a trademark melody for the chorus of “Lighters,” a new single from Bad Meets Evil, a revived collaboration between Eminem and Ryan “Royce da 5’9” “ Montgomery. By the time we reached “Love the Way You Lie,” we expected Skylar Grey — who co-wrote the song and who performed earlier in the day — to take the Rihanna part. No dice. She did, however, appear to sing her part in “I Need a Doctor.”

Thomas Conner



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