Another year, another Lollapalooza Brazil festival. Since we closely followed the past two iterations of the festival, it couldn’t be any different this time around. Scaled back to two days from last year’s three, the event happened in São Paulo, on April 5th and 6th, and took place for the first time at the Interlagos race circuit. As this venue is significantly larger than the previous one, the distance between the stages was positively insane, and we covered what was within a human being’s reach.
One positive aspect of Interlagos that was instantly noticeable was the way the stages were set up. Positioned in low areas, the three main stages had a huge, amphitheater-like area in front of them, which allowed for good views for just about anyone present, and in turn gave the acts on stage a nice look at the crowd as well. After a pretty solid show by Cage the Elephant, we were fortunate enough to catch just glimpses of Julian Casablancas‘ gig with The Voidz (still no idea what the hell he’s attempting to do with his career), and unfortunate enough to see most of Imagine Dragons‘ set. It’s a bit disheartening to see how many people are deeply attached to their brand of slightly more enthusiastic (but shittier) Coldplay. A drum solo halfway through and a cover of Blur’s Song 2 didn’t help at all, and it all made closing track Radioactive sound actually pretty good in comparison to the rest of their songs. We’re not exposing you to any of that, so here’s some of Cage The Elephant’s set:
Once attendees realized how ridiculously long the walks between stages could be (sometimes, half an hour, depending on how many people standing around looking at their phones you’d find in your way), they settled at the stages based on the headliners. Nine Inch Nails closed out the second stage, to a crowd divided between devoted fans and people who just seemed to be curious about the act. Despite the stage setup being much simpler than what the rest of the world usually gets, they played a strong, nearly flawless set that mixed mandatory cuts like Wish with slightly misplaced new tracks such as Disappointed. As well performed as it all was, the band seemed a little distant in comparison to the audience’s reaction, which was easily excited throughout the whole thing. Trent Reznor’s most spontaneous moments came not when he briefly spoke to the crowd, but when he forgot the lyrics to Beside You In Time, and could barely a smile for a second. One major standout: The Great Destroyer, a track whose instrumental breakdown is occasionally too similar to its studio version, but here featured some truly awe-inspiring improvisation and took full advantage of the visuals:
Following the cancellation of a standalone gig a few days earlier, Muse closed the first day with a laryngitis-struck Matthew Bellamy, visibly having a hard time in reaching high notes with his voice. It’s a shame that he wasn’t in top shape, as that night’s setlist was arguably one of the most interesting the band has played in years. A combination of proven old tracks (Bliss, Butterflies & Hurricanes), only some of the best cuts from their last album (Madness, Unsustainable), and rarities like Yes Please and Agitated meant a nearly foolproof 90-minute set. Luckily, fans were loud enough to fill in all the bits that Bellamy couldn’t sing throughout the gig, and instrumental sections were great as usual. And hell, they even covered Nirvana’s Lithium, which went down surprisingly well:
A less eventful (and less filled) second day had a few, sporadic moments worth noting, such as Johnny Marr getting former Smiths bandmate Andy Rourke onstage to perform How Soon Is Now?, an attention-grabbing set by Savages, and a spontaneous dance party during Vampire Weekend‘s show, spawned by one man, eventually joined by many others.
Later, things got more interesting with Pixies, an act welcomed by just about anyone present; their set was predictably efficient, but their new material still needs some getting used to before its properly accepted by the crowd. Still a concert that’s worth watching at least once – preferably more. Needless to say, new bassist Paz Lenchantin was as excellent as she’s been in any of her previous acts.
Playing the same slot Nine Inch Nails did the night before, Soundgarden performed their very first gig in Brazil, and had no trouble living up to the fans’ breathless expectation. The band and concertgoers slowly warmed up to each other, and progressed naturally as the show and the people watching it got more and more energetic. While their set delivered the majority of the best tracks in their catalog (not a single one to be removed), people started getting on each other’s shoulders to form human pyramids, and mosh pits grew to the extent that they caught the band’s attention – bassist Ben Shepherd even gesticulated to form a circle pit. While NIN seemed to play hard to get, Soundgarden embraced their audience and invited them along for the ride, with Chris Cornell jumping down from the stage and singing Beyond The Wheel amidst the crowd. Since good footage of most of the show is still lacking, here’s a great rendition of Black Hole Sun, followed by Jesus Christ Pose:
To end the festival, Arcade Fire brought their Reflektor show with all its bells and whistles – which still means that, if you like the album, you like the concert; if not, then you’ll be grasping for older material. It was surely a cathartic end for the festival, despite the dwindling crowd of people who wanted to leave soon and avoid a repeat of the previous day’s torturous train/bus/cab ride home. Oddly enough, given the second day’s smaller attendance, there were no major issues on the way back from the event.
Overall, it’s safe to say that Lollapalooza Brazil delivered again, maintaining their quality of smaller acts, and focusing on more headliners, rather than bigger ones, a choice we’d like to see again next year. Hopefully, either the sets will be have a bit more time between them, or the stages will be closer.