From its inception in 1991, Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell envisioned Lollapalooza, the festival he created, as a travelling music roadshow, snaking around the States with a tonne of bands in tow. In 2011, the festival made its first international forays, taking the party down to Chile, and in subsequent years has repeated its successes in Brazil and Argentina. When they announced that the legendary event was headed to Europe for the first time, basing itself in the party capital that is Berlin, Clash packed our bags and legged it over.
Lollapalooza in 2015 is quite a different beast from its earlier days. Once boasting the cream of US alternative acts – early headliners included Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1992, Alice In Chains in ’93, and The Smashing Pumpkins in ’94 – the festival’s edges seemed to have softened some, and now includes more mainstream and electronic acts like Sam Smith, Macklemore and Bastille, alongside stadium behemoths Muse. Despite being a broad line-up the continuity and standard matched across all stages provided something for everyone; Clash bounced from hard German techno rap courtesy of the stage-storming Deickhind straight into the frenetic rumblings of The Libertines.
Exploring the vast landscape of the Tempelhof Airport site, we found ourselves among a packed crowd to catch Franz Ferdinand and Sparks’ new joint venture, FFS. The mutual admiration and camaraderie between Alex, Bob, Nick, Paul, Ron and Russell was palpable as they ran through a playful and powerful set, with tracks like ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’ and ‘Piss Off’ receiving the crowd’s full support.
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Interested to catch Glass Animals again live, we fought our way into the tent to soak in the band’s balmy, soothing sound. Getting close to the stage, we found ourselves – like everyone else there – once again entranced by their sultry, tropical tunes, which perfectly matched the searing heat outside. A very tight set, the musicality of Glass Animals on stage is a site to behold.
Run The Jewels emphatically barked out anthem after anthem, stamping their authority and affirming the buzz surrounding their main stage performance. Their stage presence was gigantic, and their delivery relentless, injecting a revolutionary mentality into a day that was beginning to require some more cerebral moments. El-P and Killer Mike tore shit up on the Tempelhof stage with machine-gun-like back-to-back rhymes and showmanship. Other acts on the line-up should have taken note of the energy mirrored between the crowd and performers; it was a site to behold.
Muse delivered a smooth and calculated - if somewhat by numbers – set, which felt in contrast to previous performances we have witnessed. Some of the frantic energy had been replaced with a more measured and considered presentation. Really hammering home their now quite politically-orientated interactions with the crowd, their rallying calls felt a little scripted rather than a call to action anybody was actually going to act on.
Playing early on the Sunday, we caught Wolf Alice’s riotous, loud and brash moment in the sun. A sharp and now well-honed set was paused only by the band regularly expressing their gratitude for all the support from the audiences on their summer travels.
Scots heroes Belle & Sebastian walked out onto the main stage on Sunday to a rapturous reception. Mid-set, Stuart Murdoch invited a lucky handful of fans on stage to party. The sight of him dancing in his shiny silver tight-fitting pants was something to behold – apparently his wife had warned him off wearing them, but he insisted. ‘Another Sunny Day’ fitted the cheerful mood perfectly, blending nicely into ‘Perfect Couples’.
All weekend, rumours had been circulating and speculation mounting as to whether The Libertines would make it out to Berlin. The previous two dates in London and Manchester had been cancelled due to health issues in the band. Pete Doherty had experienced some panic attack issues on Friday, meaning the shows that weekend were impossible. Thankfully, some time out on Friday and Saturday had meant he was fit to join us in Germany. And how glad we all were; their battalion of fans was on hand to deftly carry the good ship Albion on its admittedly shaky voyage.
Carl Barat may have enjoyed the Berlin revelry a little too much, which resulted in his slurring into the microphone, while the band made various mistakes throughout - much to each other's amusement. As we all sang along emphatically to ‘Gunga Din’, Pete looked happy albeit a little wobbly. After two encores, drummer Gary Powell concluded their slot with a rather strange dance that left the already stunned crowd that little more bemused.
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We closed off the weekend watching Tame Impala - always a marvel on stage, they were undoubtedly the best spectacle of the festival so far. To watch Tame Impala live is to see glimpses of the darkest parts of our cosmos realised in the visuals and sounds echoing around Tempelhof airport. Their swirling psych-pop and frenzied guitar riffs brought lost minds and warm hearts alike together in the dying hours of what has been an incredible weekend.
With almost 25 years of experience behind them, and the might of German efficiency on hand to smooth out any problems, Lollapalooza proved that they can find a new home anywhere and, while Berlin was an inspired choice for their European debut, we look forward to hopefully offering some good old British hospitality somewhere down the line... Please!
Check out Zalando's interactive festival guide and round-up of the festival season’s key dates HERE.
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Words: Tom Frog