Lollapalooza Brazil

May 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

The coverage Fritz and I created for Lollapalooza Brazil went up this weekend, courtesy of The Inertia.

Copy/pasta’d below.  (In case you weren’t paying close attention, of course we work in increments of eleven.)


Lollapalooza has gone global. For the past few years, we thought of the festival as an epic long weekend in Chicago. But as of 2012, Lollapalooza founder and Janes’ Addiction weirdo Perry Farrell has ported his vision to South America (Brazil and Chile, to be exact). From March 29-31st, the festival returned to the infield of the Jockey Club of Sao Paulo with headliners The Killers, The Black Keys, Pearl Jam, and a host of other great bands and DJs. Can Lollapalooza thrive in the Southern Hemisphere? We had to find out. Here, we bring you our Top 11 most interesting vignettes from the weekend:

11. [Roaming keg man.]

Fatal last words: “I’ll be right back.” For a simple snack or drink from the concession stand, you usually have to fight your way through gyrating hordes of crowds to reach your destination and find the way back. Without any clear sense of reference points (we found that even “right side of the stage” gets muddled when you wonder whether the intent was from the audience’s or the band’s perspective), a quick detour can lead to hours languished in trying to reconnect with lost members of your party. Hiring a mobile team of concessions vendors just made an impossible amount of sense. All hail the festival planners who thought of this, and all hail the roaming keg men whose glorious oversized Camelbaks supplied endless adult sodas (read: Heineken) for the thirsty masses.

10. [The post-festival Sao Paulo club scene.]

As we all poured out from the Jockey Club festival grounds at 11pm each night, the never-ending nightlife of Sao Paulo was waiting there, ready to take us in. Unlike in the city hosting your favorite American music festival, clubs and bars just don’t close here. On Saturday night, Diplo crushed his set at the Clash Club, dropping a 4:30am “Harlem Shake” which almost (harlem-)shook the walls of the venue to the ground. Our Friday night escapade to Funhouse found us boxing out locals from the jukebox so we could put Toto’s “Africa” on repeat in the queue as the sun slowly rose overhead (we thought it was funny – no other real reason!). Thank goodness for Red Bull!

9. [Evil Wayne Coyne.]

The Flaming Lips’ new live set is horrifying, but probably not the sort of horrifying that the band might hope to leverage in promoting its latest album, The Terror. Void of all of the color, confetti, costumes, and general fanfare of the band’s fabled shows of yore, frontman Wayne Coyne was left immobile on a pedestal, nurturing and kissing a wiry-haired toy baby. He describes, on multiple occasions, a wish for a plane descending towards a nearby airport to crash, cause a large fire, and invariably kill or injure hundreds of people. The confusion and tension in the crowd was palpable. A jarring and puzzling experience, at best.

8. [Brazilian bands standing their ground.]

Even though most of the prime festival timeslots were given to foreign bands, homegrown Brazilian talent refused to be sidelined. Playing with the fervor and charisma of late-night headliners, groups like Tokyo Savannah, Vivendo Do Ocio, and Wannabe Jalva showed us that Brazilian rockers can hold their own. Our personal favorite was dance-punkers Copacabana Club, who laid down bass grooves like they were LCD Soundsystem at a favela party.

7. [The Hives’ unlikely performance.]

Remember The Hives? They sang “Hate To Say I Told You So,” which was all over the airwaves just over a decade ago. Apparently, they have still been producing albums since then, and they captured an evening spot on the final day of the festival. But as the North American public eye has shifted from these Swedish garage rockers, fans in Brazil have fallen in love with them. And after their set, we rekindled our admiration too. The Hives managed to rock the entire distance from the main Cicade Jardim stage to the crew setting up Hot Chip’s synthesizers on the Alternativo Stage. Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, the band’s spastic frontman, lived up to his moniker, leading the band with an eccentric, punk rock energy.

6. [Pearl Jam’s Sunday night headlining set.]

“Oi, São Paulo,” bellowed Eddie Vedder as he entered under the lights of the festival’s main stage. In just three words—the band hadn’t even started its Sunday night headlining set—it was already apparent that we would be in for something truly special. The band spiced up favorites “Even Flow” and “Alive” with improvisational interludes and extended solos, while also surprising the crowd with tremendous covers of The Ramones’ “I Believe in Miracles” and The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”

If that wasn’t enough, Vedder—in crisp Portuguese—paused partway through the show to congratulate São Paulo for respecting and supporting gay marriage. The effort to speak in the country’s native language was met with fervent cheer, swoon, and admiration from the crowd, which lit up at the opportunity to welcome Vedder as one of their own. – written by Roberta, our Brazilian correspondent.

5. [American bands showing their hometown pride.]

Norman, Oklahoma. Akron, Ohio. Athens, Alabama. Queensbridge. North Carolina. The list goes on, but the audience response never rose above a murmer. Most people didn’t know where these places were, and why would they? Except for us – and we cheered obnoxiously loud and proudly American.

4. [Muddy festival grounds.]

Rain is about the last thing you want on the first day of a jam-packed music festival, turning the infield of the Jockey Club into a festival mud pit. At sunset, perhaps, when it’s no longer bright enough to discern between wet and dry paths forward, we all gave up any hope of salvaging the cleanliness of our footwear and gave in. Leading the charge was Passion Pit’s high-energy 8:00PM set. With the beckon of choruses from “Carried Away,” “Take a Walk,” and set closer “Little Secrets,” any lingering inhibitions among the crowd were joyously cast aside as we tore into the Alternativo Stage’s muddy dance scene.

3. [Brazilians loving blues rock.]

One would think that Brazilian rhythmic taste edges towards samba and bossa nova instead of the howling guitar and bluesy vocals of the Mississippi Delta. For the crowd at Lollapalooza, this couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Good ‘ol American rock ‘n’ roll reigned supreme, with the likes of the Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, and Gary Clark Jr. bringing a soulful edge to a musically diverse line-up. The energy in the Shakes’ “Heavy Chevy” and the Keys’ “Lonely Boy” had us reeling and rocking as if we were all transported to a 50’s Memphis blues joint. The language of rock is universal, and nothing goes down better than a classic sound.

2. [Hot Chip’s Official Aftershow.]

“Let Me Be Him” is the 10th track on Hot Chip’s latest album, In Our Heads, and the 13th most popular track based on the artist’s profile. It’s not the song anyone would expect to close a set after an encore—intuition might more generally suggest a band closing on a high note with its most popular track (in Hot Chip’s case, “Over and Over”). Intuition might also suggest that an aftershow in a forgotten cinema—once popular among Japanese filmmakers—wouldn’t house the best performance of the entire weekend. But through their last song, armed with Cine Joia’s intimate setting, crisp and bulbous sound, and a high stage with clear sight lines, Hot Chip rocked the hips and melted the hearts of anyone within earshot. Sometimes intuition gets turned on its head.

1. [The people.]

There’s something special in the water in Sao Paulo. Not in the bad way where a guidebook might urge you to only drink from bottles and to carry pills to help stave off an upset stomach. Instead, there’s something in the water that makes it perfectly acceptable and miraculously sustainable to stay up and party until 6:30 AM every night of the weekend or rock out in the crowd until you’re hoarse and can’t stand anymore. There’s something in the water that makes it sane to accept nearly complete strangers into your home as guests and dear friends, to offer a guided tour of the city or an invite to a secret VIP party at the fanciest hotel in town, to give a lift to a beach house three hours away—the list of offers of love and generosity goes on, and on, and on. Perhaps it’s got nothing to do with the water. Perhaps there’s just something special in the people.

Thank you to Samuel, Mark, Eduardo, Thiago, Bea, Richelle, Isabella, Augusto, Roberta, Kevin, Nelly, Felipe, and everyone else who made this a trip, a festival, a city, and a country to remember.

Meet the other half, Josh Petersel.

Editor’s Note: Jonathan Fritz co-wrote and co-photographed this piece with friend Josh Petersel. Josh is a full-time MBA student, part-time rock music enthusiast, and no-time world record holder in the mustache speed-shaving division. His current life goals include shooting a flamethrower, getting a million views on YouTube, building a treehouse, and owning a waterbed—though not necessarily in that order.


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