*Best of HARD Summer, Day 1 – Los Angeles State Historic Park – 8/3/12
*HARD Summer Night 2: Top Five Performances
*Bloc Party Speaks: Why Bringing Their Guitars to HARD Summer was a Gutsy Move
Since 2005, Lollapalooza has descended upon Grant Park in Chicago every August to bring some of music's biggest names and brightest up and coming bands to the city. Though a touring festival in its formative years, the event is now one of the must-see tickets of the summer. Fortunately, we were on hand to check out the sights, sounds and storm of this year's event. Here are some of our favorite sets from the festival.
5. Passion Pit
Worried about Michael Angelakos' mental health? You shouldn't be. The Boston-based quintet Passion Pit put together one of the best sets on a steamy Friday in the Windy City. Performing songs from both Manners the recently released Gossamer in front of a crowd that had to be pushing 80,000, the band's catchy brand of synth pop had attendees dancing with delight. By the end of the 75-minute set, the band and the audience were exhausted from the heat and losing themselves in the music.
4. Sharon Van Etten
Indie rock's sweetheart du jour managed to win over a contingent of new fans during her Friday afternoon set. Playing the guitar and omnichord, the Brooklyn-based musician demonstrated why she's one of the genre's rising singer/songwriters. Combining elements of folk and indie to go along with her introspective lyrics, Van Etten delivered one of the festival's brightest moments. “My '90s dreams are coming true today,” she told the crowd of nearly 5,000. After her set, she too will go down as the latest in a long line of breakout stars from the festival.
Perhaps the most underground of the bands who performed, the L.A. punks in FIDLAR, showed Chicago how we get down in Southern California. Known for their house party performances, the quartet's first proper festival was one they won't forget anytime soon. After only one song, a mosh pit erupted near the front of the stage, having nearly 50 arm-swinging participants at its peak. The band's “I don't give a fuck” attitude was warmly embraced from the Chicago faithful, many of whom were unfamiliar with the band before their set. During the last song of the 35-minute set, singer Zac Carper ended up in the teeth of the pit, screaming lyrics while fans welcomed his presence. Looks like the boys are growing up.
2. Frank Ocean
Having lost three hours due to a wicked thunderstorm, fans were worried that Saturday's remaining sets would be shortened in order to squeeze the postponed bands into the schedule before the 11 p.m. park curfew. Unfortunately some weren't able to perform, but the meteoric rise of Frank Ocean continued. Playing before a mud soaked audience of screaming loyalists and curious on-lookers, Ocean performed a similar set to his recent show at the Wiltern, but that doesn't mean it didn't sound pretty damn good. Songs like “Pyramids” and “American Wedding” were highlights and the singer was in both good spirits and an unusually chatty mood. Before launching into “Bad Romance,” the singer confessed to the crowd that the song was “important … for all the things I've said in the past month.” Not surprisingly, it went over as well as any individual song performed over the festival's three days
1. Gary Clark Jr.
For a guy who's set to release his debut full-length on Warner Bros. this fall, the Austin native continues to build a devoted following who gravitate towards his electrified brand of the blues. Chicago is a city that has long appreciated the blues and Clark Jr. reminded them how good the genre sounds when performed right. With his seemingly effortless guitar solos that in due time will place him alongside the greats combined with his smooth vocals, it's easy to see why he was the must-see act during his timeslot.
Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.