I’m not wasting words on the history ‘cause I think everyone has an idea of what Lollapalooza is. But I can alert to the fact that since 1991 this is the second year Perry Farrell takes this party outside of the US. Last year (2011) there was an edition in Chile and this year, on his return to Chilean ground, he also came to Brazil.
Lolla Brazil took place in São Paulo during Easter weekend (April 7th and 8th) and had the following lineup:
Foo Fighters, TV on the Radio, Calvin Harris, Band of Horses, Cage the Elephant, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, O Rappa*, Bassnectar, The Crystal Method, Perryetty V/S Chris Cox, Peaches, Wander Wildner*, Marcelo Nova*, Rhythm Monks, Pavilhão 9*, Ritmo Machine, Loading…, Veiga & Salazar, Daniel Belleza & Os Corações em Fúria*, Tipo Uísque*, Balls, Marcio Techjun*, Zé & Cia – Trenzinho de Gente*, Sam Batera E Absolut*, Bichos Do Mundo*
Arctic Monkeys, Jane’s Addiction, MGMT, Thievery Corporation, Skrillex, Foster the People, Racionais MCs*, Friendly Fires, Pretty Lights, Manchester Orchestra, Gogol Bordello, Tinie Tempah, Plebe Rude*, Cascadura*, Velhas Virgens*, Garage Fuzz, Killer on The Dancefloor, Kings of Swingers, Black Drawing Chalks, Suvaca*, Blubell, Daniel Brandão*, Solange Sá – Piolhos*, Abigail Conta Mais De Mil*, Meg Monteiro e Banda Symbol*, Crianças Crionças – Cid Campos*
* Brazilian bands
With my camera in hand I headed to São Paulo (45 min flight from Rio) to watch some concerts and cover the event for PP. The bands mentioned above were divided onto 5 stages: 2 main ones on opposite sides, an alternative one, one for electronic music and one for kids (WTF, kids???? Who brings kids to a place like this?).
Concerts started at noon and would run until 11:00pm. First band to play that I was interested in seeing was Cage the Elephant (CTE) whose concert would start at 3:00pm. By 2:30pm I was on my way (I was about 15 minutes from the site of the event) but when I got there at 2:45pm there was a huge line to get in. I had no option but to join the poor bastards in the sun. It took almost 40 minutes to get in and I only got to see half of Cage the Elephants frenetic rock. They sounded good but I was still figuring out what was going on all around. The concerts on the 2 main stages were alternating so when CTE were done, O Rappa started playing on the other side. They are a Brazilian rock band with reggae and funk influences. They had better days but are still in shape. When they started playing I realized how far I was from the other stage that I decided to go back to the other one, since I wanted to see Band of Horses from a good vantage spot. If I wanted to be in a good spot, I would have to choose one of the stages and stay there. More and more people were arriving for the headliners (Joan Jet and Foo Fighters) as the day was passing. I was rather impressed with the lines. Lines to go in. Lines to buy drinks, lines to buy food, lines to go to the toilet.
Anyway, back to the concerts, after waiting a bit (for O Rappa to finish), Band of Horses got on stage. I have been following their work for quite a while and I liked seeing them live. They were definitely more upbeat than on record. They’re cover of “Am I a Good Man” by Them Two was amazing. And throughout their set the ‘flannel-shirty’ vintage ‘I live in the woods’ fans, sang along to songs like “The Funeral”, “Is There a Ghost”, “Cigarettes”, “Wedding Bands”, “Weed Party”, “Laredo”, “For Annabelle” and many others.
On the other stage, TV on Radio would follow. It was time to get something to eat- my mistake. A very long line guaranteed me a bad place to see the end of their set. Foo Fighters were next on this stage and I wasn’t in a good spot. I decided not to go see Joan Jett on the other stage and wait there so I wouldn’t be in a crappier place to check Dave Grohl and Co. When they got on stage, there were over 75,000 people there and they were all waiting to see Foo Fighters. It paid off. They played almost 2 1/2 hours performing their hits like “The Pretender”, “Everlong”, “Times Like These”, “All My Life”, “My Hero” and “Learning to Fly” just to name a few (btw: they also played Pink Floyd’s “In The Flesh”). The surprise came on the encore when Joan Jett joined the stage to sing “Bad Reputation” and “I Love Rock n Roll” with them. And after the last note everyone went home happy.
The next day I had to arrive earlier since I was anxious to see the first band, Gogol Bordello (starting at 2:00pm). So I left at 1:00pm and this time there was no line to get in. By 1:30 I was nicely positioned. Right on schedule Eugene and the rest of his gypsy posse got on stage for what I think was one of the best concerts of Lolla Brazil. This NY band formed by Russians, Russion-Jews, Ethiopians, Ecuatorians, Ukranians, Americans, and Italian-Irish-Americans is, as they called themselves, a gypsy punk group with a festive anarchic rock with klezmer influences. Songs like “Start Wearing Purple”, I”mmigraniada”, “Pala Tute” and “My Companjera” are just perfect for lighting up the crowed. I highly recommend people to go see them live.
Having learned I had to choose a stage and stay there, I decided to stay where I was. Sadly this made me miss Kings of Swingers and Killer on The Dancefloor that played during and right after Gogol’s at the electronic stage. But I managed to get a little closer to the stage I was at. Friendly Fires kicked-off their set by playing “Lovesick” and during the next couple of songs Ed Macfarlane (vocals) was dancing as Mick Jagger on ecstasy. He seemed to be enjoying himself and even got off the stage near the crowd. Their set was really good and people seem to respond to the band.
When MGMT got on stage not only had the sun already set, but dark clouds took the sky and it started to rain. The light rain didn’t cool down the audience, but the songs sure did. They seemed to lack the energy that Gogol and Friendly Fires possessed. People responded with the most enthusiasm when they played “Time to Pretend”, and even then it wasn’t quite as energetic as some of the other bands.
And again, to see Jane’s Addiction play I had to stay where I was. Actually, since most of the public was made of 20 year old hipsters they didn’t really care for Jane’s and went to the other stage to see Foster the People and Arctic Monkeys. I found my way between the fans and got to stay at the front row. Pink Floyd’s (once again) “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” served as the intro for Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro and the rest to take the stage with their psychedelic circus. Even though you can see Perry has aged, he’s still got it and songs like “Mountain Song”, “Been Caught Stealing” and “Jane Says” were perfect! Stephen Perkins (drums) and Dave Navarro are still in shape and kept the hard rock going until the end of the set.
After the last song, I went home. Don’t really care about Arctic Monkeys and even if I did, I would be so far away that it would be better to watch it at home on the TV (A cable channel was broadcasting).
I can say that the music was great – especially Gogol, Band of Horses and Foo Fighters – but the event was kind of messy and the different stages with performances at the same time, or very far from one another prevented me to see Skrillex, Manchester Orchestra and many others.
And a final note to all the hipsters with skinny jeans, vintage eyewear and odd facial hair: how different are you when everyone around you is as different as you?
And one more thing: dude, shave that goatee. After all goatee is the mullet of the face!