Photos by Alistair Rathbone
As we entered the enormous Hipodromo San Isidro in the swankiest of Buenos Aires’ suburbs, armed with a borrowed digital camera and a Spanish phrasebook, the atmosphere was thick with Latin American excitement. The people of Argentina knew how to party and couldn’t wait to tear into Lollapalooza Argentina for 2014.
It was fitting that first up on Day 1 was Australia’s own Flume. Perched behind a giant LED screen, the young electronic whiz kid was clearly proud as punch to be playing his first South American show. It’s no big secret that the live experience Flume provides is pretty straight forward- Press play, raise your arms, clap along. But as the Aussie pride swept through me, I was all too happy to oblige. Playing all the hits from his debut LP aswell as his most recent E.P with Chet Faker, Flume also dropped his brand new remix of Lorde’s ‘Tennis Court‘ complete with plenty of ‘flub-wub-wubs’.
Next on the agenda was none other than Mr. JULIAN CASABLANCAS. Playing solo for Lollapalooza, Casablancas’ star power was undeniable, drawing one of the bigger crowds of the day. Complete with a motley crew of trendy musicians, Casablancas took the opportunity to showcase a large chunk of his upcoming sophomore album ‘Voidz‘, as well as charm the pants of his audience with his affable and constant on-stage banter, including a public challenge to fellow lollapaloozians PHOENIX to a game of soccer. The latest JC tracks offered a hazy insight into the make up of the new album, with sound issues and Casablancas’ trademark scuzzy vocals making it difficult to make out a lot of the melodies in what sounds like a pretty chaotic bunch of songs. Intertwining guitar solos, jangly synths and plenty of Casablancas drawl made for a pretty intense experience which seemed to be lost on a lot of the Buenos Aires crowd. Julian saved the day however with the inclusion of first album hits ‘ 11th Dimension‘, ‘River of Brakelights‘ and even an ad hoc inclusion of THE STROKES‘ ‘Reptilia‘ which saw the crowd break into frenzy. Julian may have not won many pre-sales with his new material, but he certainly won a lot of hearts.
We wandered past another southern hemisphere wunderkind LORDE on our way through the gigantic Lollapalooza crowd, and stopped just long enough to watch young Ella Yelich-O’Connor stomp her way through a myriad of hits in front of an adoring crowd. Unfortunately Lorde stopped busting out the hits to deliver a 10 minute monologue about a house party and her quest for eternal youth which cooled our enthusiasm a bit and we departed, searching for snacks. Mmmmmm..Yummy.
French gents PHOENIX had managed to steal a rival-less spot on the timetable and played to a monstrous crowd on the mainstage. Phoenix dropped a set as tight as one would expect from the band of pop veterans, pulling hits from across the decades and dance moves from the chic-est of Parisian night clubs. Set highlight was the opening track ‘Entertainment‘ which had 50,000 feet simultaneously leaving the ground in a lather of excitement. Hard not to admire the effortless stage presence and attention to detail that makes a PHOENIX set so damn enjoyable.
The Bear Family Award for ‘Most excited to be there’ has to go to the butter-voiced KID CUDI. on such a big stage, it would be forgiveable for one man alone failing to own the stage with his presence. But Scott Mescudi did just that. With a smile almost as big as the stage, Cudi busted out hit after hit from across his 3 albums, taking us on; as he described it, a ‘ journey through his discography’. The most impressive aspect of Kid Cudi’s show was the power and range of his voice. Having been let down on numerous occasions by hip hop/ rnb vocalists in the past, it was a pleasant surprise to hear such control on stage. Taking lots of breaks inbetween songs to thank and hype his audience, Kid Cudi ensured he had EVERY hand in the crowd swaying to hits such as ‘Pursuit of Happiness’, ‘Day n Nite’ and ‘Soundtrack 2 My Life‘. An unexpected highlight of the festival.
Of course, it all comes down to the headliner. Tired feet, sore ears and the beginnings of a hangover are kicking in, the main attraction damn well better put on a good show. ARCADE FIRE did just that. In front of a backdrop of shimmering silver, the cast of Arcade Fire waltzed onto stage in giant papier mache heads, before breaking into the opening chords of Rebellion (lies). Turns out it WAS all (lies) with a faux-angry Win Butler waltzing from side of stage to remove the head of the imposter lead singer to reveal a very cheeky JULIAN CASABLANCAS.
Theatrics put aside, Arcade Fire launched into an emphatic set full of tracks from across their award winning albums, including latest hits ‘Reflektor‘ and ‘Normal Person‘. Swapping instruments, outfits and positions amongst the crowd, Arcade Fire never fail to impress, and their grand live performance kept the masses in awe for the entirety of their 2 hour set. No album was left untouched, with ‘Ready to Start‘ from Grammy award winng album ‘The Suburbs‘ a set highlight. As the set concluded to a silvery confetti rain, the crowd made the slow march home with excited recollections of what they had just seen. Arcade Fire are reknown as one of the world’s greatest live acts, and tonight did that claim little harm.