Around this time last year, the first Lollapalooza Brazil was taking place at São Paulo’s Jockey Club, spread across a weekend, with Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys as headliners. Given its success, it predictably went on to have a second, more ambitious edition in 2013, during the Easter holiday of March 29th-31st, with a pretty hefty lineup. Of course, we were there to tell you how it went.
The festival kicked off on Friday with the arguably weakest portion of the lineup. The sole highlight would come from The Flaming Lips, who brought the usual brand of weirdness you’re probably tired of hearing about by now, but alienated a huge part of the crowd by focusing too much of the set on their upcoming record The Terror. Predictably, headliners The Killers played to an enormous amount of fans who seemed to love every second of it – good for them.
On the bright side, the lack of great shows on Friday made for a very packed weekend. Saturday was properly kicked off by Tomahawk – playing to a country that’s used to receiving at least one of Mike Patton’s projects per year, they drew a fairly large but spoiled crowd. In just under an hour, the group hit the right balance of old and new material, and did well by playing the well-known God Hates a Coward early on, leaving room to properly dig deeper into their catalog afterwards.
Due to conflicting schedules, we only got to see short bits of Gary Clark Jr. and Alabama Shakes, two acts who recently recently made waves in rock music, and both were living up to the hype they generated. Later on, we caught the insanely anticipated set by Queens of the Stone Age, featuring new drummer Jon Theodore and the brand new song My God Is The Sun. It was more than enough proof that QOTSA are on fire and ready for their comeback – read our review of the show here, and watch it live in its entirety below:
As soon as QOTSA were done, there was a general consensus that it would be a hard act to follow for any bands playing afterwards. The first ones up were A Perfect Circle, welcomed by eager superfans and curious viewers alike – one group bound to love, and the other to hate, most of the performance. A melancholy settled in immediately with the mood-killing combo of Crucifix and Imagine, and remained there for an uncomfortable duration of the show. No matter how wonderfully executed songs like The Noose and Blue are, they don’t fit the atmosphere in a festival setting, and fell too easily into the prog-rock cliche of musicians performing for themselves, rather than the people watching them. Fortunately enough, things picked up for the last section of the set, with heavier jams like Rose, The Package and The Outsider delivering perfectly and leaving things off on a good note.
While APC had their moments and somehow dodged the bullet of following up QOTSA, The Black Keys weren’t as lucky. Closing out Saturday night, what took place was a bizarre mix of a band playing very well and an audience that was distant and disconnected on all but the first few rows of people. At the end of a mud-ridden day, a crowd will be understandably tired, and ready to be moved by only the most exciting of acts – a bill that, regrettably, The Black Keys fell short of filling. Focusing on the band’s last two, most crowd-pleasing records, they lacked a little punch live, coasting along pleasantly rather than grabbing listeners by the gut. Add the fact that Patrick Carney’s drums sounded awfully muddy in the mix (and even worse as you got farther from the stage), and the result was a misplaced headliner.
Puscifer came about as the first truly noteworthy performance on the last day of the festival. Maynard James Keenan’s other (other) project was in stark contrast to the previous night’s APC show: playing under a bright sunlight, wearing all black, and, most importantly, delivering hard-hitting music throughout most of their set, Puscifer easily managed to fit better into the festival atmosphere. There was also the fact that Maynard actually got down from his pedestal at the back of the stage and actually communicated the crowd. It became all the more entertaining when Eddie Vedder showed up to drink some wine onstage, causing Maynard to say “great, now you’re awake” to the crowd, and jokingly refer to Vedder as “thunderstealer.” Watch the event in the video below after the 17:50 mark:
Soon after Puscifer were done, Kaiser Chiefs made a surprisingly strong and exciting performance, but it wasn’t quite in the same league as what was about to follow. The Hives were up next, and they practically made Lollapalooza their own festival for just under an hour. Certainly the hardest-working band onstage at the event, it didn’t matter how similar their songs sounded, and it didn’t take long for them to captivate the entire audience. Lead singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist would get whatever response he asked for, whenever – clapping, jumping, screaming, all within his reach, and it truly felt like he earned it. The one thing he couldn’t get was to have everyone sit down – then jump up – for the last song, as the ground of the Jockey Club had a a fair amount of manure mixed into the mud. Regardless of that, it felt like an obvious highlight of the entire event.
Closing out the festival were none other than Pearl Jam, playing their first gig in almost six months. As happened with QOTSA the night before, PJ’s set was predictably hits-filled, including few rarities (such as Comatose) thrown in for good measure, but lasting twice as long as the Queens’. All of this made Pearl Jam the proper headliner that the festival deserved, performing to a loving crowd that waited for them above any other act that day, and with the certainty that their material would have a loving reception better than those of the bands playing before. All the right emotional marks were hit, across just over two hours, and leaving the festival on an extremely pleasant note. (Check back this weekend for a video of Pearl Jam’s performance in its entirety).
Moreso than last year, it was hard not to find at least a few very worthwhile acts at Lollapalooza Brazil. One look at the lineup will show how many acts we didn’t cover, which might be someone else’s perfect concert experience. This variety and overall consistence of quality is definitely welcome, and will hopefully find a place in the country again next year.
Pictures by Fabricio Vianna: