Photo: Timothy Gottlieb

Festival Review: Lollapalooza Stockholm – Sunday

Ahhh, Sunday… It´s weird to be on a festival on a Sunday. It just is. It´s probably a clever move, and most people probably have started their vacation, but some friends of mine had their first meeting at 7.00 on the Monday. That´s rough, but it´s also pretty R-O-C-K.

One of the unique things with Lollapalooza is the fact that kids are allowed in. Last time around, in 2019, I brought one of my youngsters (link) and he had a blast. He still talks about it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t join this time, due to the “life puzzle” (that´s the right word, right?), but next time! It creates a nice vibe to the whole area, and it seems like people are being a little more respectful and realize they´re not the center of the universe (well, in most cases at least). And to see a little boy or girl on the shoulder of their parents going bananas to Mitski is a pretty awesome thing. The world might be alright after all.

Each day on the festival kind of has its own focus in terms of lineup. If the Saturday was more oriented towards pop and hip hop, the Sunday was rock all the way. Quite an impressive lineup actually, and it was very evident in the crowd. I would guess that the average age was at least 10 years higher in the Sunday compared to the Saturday, and there were a lot of Pearl Jam t-shirts. A lot…

The day started of with a pretty awesome triple header. Turnstile has been around for a while, and have steadily grown into a band that can draw huge crowds with their intensive shows. The Baltimore quintet made chaos at Glastonbury a few weekends ago, and I was expecting a large crowd, but playing early in the afternoon on one of the main stages didn’t generate the optimal settings.

Photo: Håkan Kjellgren

They still put on a great show, with singer Brendan Yates being an excellent front man, and it was surprisingly dynamic. The high-intensity Mystery opened up the set, and the moshpits (a rather small one, though) started right away. Blackout comes early on, but then they break of the tempo with the lovely Underwater Boi and Canned Heat from the first album. Holiday and T.L.C. ends of the set in an impressive way. Despite nowadays being used to larger audiences, they didn´t let it affect them and showed how to put on a show, no matter the circumstances.

Photo: Håkan Kjellgren

Wolf Alice has grown from indie-darlings to almost an arena band. I was surprised to see them on the largest stage but they filled it well and had a surprisingly large crowd. Bassist Theo Ellis has something Stefan Olsdal-esque over him but in a turbo mode. Together with singer Ellie Rowsell, they give it all and really fills the huge stage. Smile from latest album Blue Weekend opens the set and sets the tone for the whole show. Roswell has an interesting way of almost whispering in the verses, and then open up full blast in the choruses, almost in a grunge way. Bros, my favorite song of theirs, sounds awesome, but nothing can really compare to set closer Don´t Delete The Kisses. It´s a well-deserved hit, about the feeling of not being sure about a crush, leaving the audience screaming Me and you were meant to be In love.

Photo: Håkan Kjellgren

The great thing about having two main stages next to each other, with the acts alternating, is that you can just walk 50 meters and then the next concert starts. It also means that the artists can walk a short distance into the crowd and watch a favorite band. During the Turnstile show, Idles-singer Joe Talbot took the opportunity, and maybe regretting it based on the long line of dudes wanting to take selfies with him. He took it with ease though, having a laugh and making an effort to talk to all of them. I may sound like a stalker, but I say him again during the Wolf Alice show, almost becoming stressed if he would make it in time for his own show. Well, 10 minutes later, he stood there on stage, and he had even managed to change clothes. A real pro, that´s for sure.

Photo: Håkan Kjellgren

IDLES is probably the most entertaining band around today. It´s such a weird, eclectic, lovely group of people. Guitarist Mark Bowen shows in a grandma-dress, and moving his hips around like Shakira (well, almost) and it took probably two songs before other guitarist Lee Kiernan is crowd surfing while playing. It such an intensity, but still so focused.

Colossus open the set in a way just leaves you wanting more, and after three songs the crowd is going bananas. Never Fight a Man With a Perm (good advice!) is probably the crescendo of the show, I thought at least. That was until Bowen gets the mic and goes into the crowd starting to sing Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA, followed by My Heart Will Go On and All I Want For Christmas is You. It´s just wonderful. Goosebumps.

Photo: Håkan Kjellgren

Miriam Bryant (who later got a shoutout from Eddie Vedder) draws a huge crowd and brings a large band on stage with her, but for us it´s a good time to get a breather before Haim. The L.A. band started out with a bang, with their EP Forever in 2012, and it really took off with debut album a year later. I loved the EP, and the roughness, but they have managed to put out great songs ever since.

Photo: Håkan Kjellgren

One stage they bring three additional musicians, but they switch it up quite a bit, with Danielle playing drums on several songs. It´s a real show with clear idea. At times it´s awesomely silly, for example when bassist Este gets a phone call from “Caleb” who she met for a good time at a porta porty at Roskilde. She´s extremely entertaining and likeable, the way she moves and grimace on stage.

Now I´m On It starts the show and the fabulous I Want You Back comes soon thereafter. It´s in songs like that, and Summer Girl and, of course, The Wire, they come to life at best. It´s rhythmic and, in lack of a better word, funky. It´s when the audience comes to life, and it looks like they have the most fun. I should also mention that there are sausages on stage, as decoration. Kind of U2s Popmart tour arguably, not knowing what the point with the design of the stage, but it was probably easier and cheaper to bring five giant sausages than the olive thingy U2 brought.

Photo: Håkan Kjellgren

Biffy Clyro is huge in Britain. That should be said first of all. I saw them closing Reading in 2013 (and pissing Trent Reznor off) in an epic way. They are just amazing live and have gotten the proper recognition on home turf at least. That has, unfortunately not, never been the case in Sweden. At Bråvalla in 2016 there were probably maximum 500 people in the audience, on a massive stage. They still gave it their all.

At Lollapalooza, they were at least at a smaller stage, going head to head Lorde time slot wise. Well, guess whom won… But it was at least a decent crowd showing up, and as always, they put on a great show. Mountains sounds as great as ever, and closer Many of Horror works so well. One just wishes that the massive crowd there for Pearl Jam and other rock acts would discover the Scots.

Photo: Pax Engström

While waiting for Pearl Jam, we saw the end of Lorde’s set. The stage looks really cool, a bit over the top in a pop-way, and Royals and Green Light sounds really good. But the feeling in the air was more of anticipation for the main act. I remember seeing The Cure a few years back closing Way Out West. It was just so evident what a difference it is between the up-and-comers (even ten years into the carriers) and the old guard. From the very first note of Plainsong it was just another league. And all due respect to the other acts, the same feeling came when Pearl Jam started. It is still just another dimension.

Photo: Timothy Gottlieb

On most shows I use to take some notes about the setlist, as it is not always sure that some nice soul will put it up on setlist.fm. In the case of Pearl Jam, one can be 100 sure that it is up ten seconds into the song. It is just a small thing, put it says something about how dedicated fans they have. Already in the afternoon, the persons in the front row had taken their positions, in order to make sure the best spot for the finale. But that is one of 100 things about the band, they are really appreciative and respectful for the fans. The band makes connection with people in the front throughout the show and Vedder throws out tambourines and his wine bottle to the most dedicated fans.

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town opens the show and the crowd sings for their lives. The energy from the band and the crowd is just out of this world. But this is also one of the things that Pearl Jam does, as does mentioned The Cure, they still change up their setlist every night. You just don’t know how they will open or which songs they will play. 8 shows into this tour leg, they had already played more than 60 (!) different songs. When other bands might alternate between a few songs, they just shake things up all the time. It creates a nerve to the show, and songs that they have played for 30 years still feel fresh.

Photo: Pao Duell

As often, songs from Ten makes out a substantial part, with Daughter as third song, but the sometimes underestimated Yield, one of my favorite records, also gets strongly represented with Low Light, Do The Evolution, Whishlist  and the magnificent Given to Fly. It´s also interesting to see that several songs from 2020 release Gigaton stand strong against to old stuff, as Superblood Wolfmoon and Dance of the Clairvoyants sounds really good.

Pearl Jam has always been a band not shying away from politics and standing up for their beliefs. When it was surprisingly silent about politics, especially in light of recent events in the US, on the festival, Vedder makes sure to make a point about not taking our rights for granted, also referring to the upcoming Swedish election. They then end the show in a fitting manner, with the Neil Young cover Rockin’ in the Free World. What could have felt a bit cheesy never felt more important and right. A very fitting end to a great, great, GREAT show and festival.

About Dick Magnusson

Energy researcher and semi-proud owner of probably the largest collection of Placebo-records in Sweden. Spins wax, or rather clicks MP3s, under the name DJ Pappaledig. Former concert promoter that loves festivals and listens way too much on indie rock (by choice) and children’s music (well, at least by someone’s choice…).
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