Wild Belle

I was introduced to this band when they opened a free show last summer at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavillion. The music was pleasant, inoffensive reggae-influenced pop delivered by a few long-haired and bearded men and a really skinny, blonde Tumblr girl. Fast forward one year and they are playing an early set at their hometown’s biggest music festival, and a decently-sized crowd has gathered around the stage to watch. Natalie Bergman’s scratchy coo and the occasional blow of a baritone sax by her sibling Elliot Bergman layered nicely over the persistent off-beat strumming practically transformed the smelly baseball diamond everyone was standing on into a sandy beach and put a piña colada in each hand. People were even singing along to their closing song, “Keep You.”–Maddie Rehayem

Wild Nothing

Wild Nothing is a fine band, but before seeing their Lollapalooza set, I had trouble finding a reason to hold them above other surfy dream-pop bands like Craft Spells or Beach Fossils. Having finally gotten a chance to see them, I can confirm that they are the superior one. They didn’t play “Live In Dreams,” my favorite by them, and only played one song from their debut album Gemini, but it wasn’t a big deal because it made the show an exercise in appreciation for their growing catalogue of good music. I realized there really isn’t an EP or full-length of theirs that I haven’t liked. Frontman Jack Tatum paused at one point to express his honor to be playing the same stage as The Cure, one of his “favorite bands of all time.” After that, the band launched into “The Blue Dress,” dedicated to Robert Smith and company. The shoegazy, ambient track was heavily reminiscent of Disintegration-era Cure – a perfect showcase of how influential they must be to this band and a perfect way to whet the pallet for The Cure’s set later that day. –MR

Alt-J

With essentially only one album under their belt, it was an interesting anticipation to see what Alt-J would be able to pull into their set solely from last year’s An Awesome Wave LP. Sure enough, the band pulled through with an impressive true-to-the-album set that saw a near-flawless recreation of both the album’s hypnotic keyboards and unorthodox percussion. Even interspersed throughout crowd favorites from the insatiably poppy “Something Good” and to an almost conclusive “Taro,” Alt-J still brought along their personalized cover of Dr. Dre’s along to freshen up the already eclectic mix. Movement within the four-piece was few and far between, but the pumped crowd swayed like a calming breeze amidst the set’s permeating mellowness. –Austin Gomez

Grizzly Bear

Marking their 101st performance promoting their 2012 acclaimed album Shields, Grizzly Bear took place on their stage donned by what seemed to be dozens of illuminating water jugs hanging from tarnished, grey strands in the backdrop. With several instruments awaiting their time for use, the band kicked off the set with “Speak in Rounds” for a subdued but equally explosive opener that sounded like a warmly natural replication of the studio version. Thereafter, the rest of the set followed almost entirely decorated with Shields’ extensive art rock instrumentals accompanying both Edward Droste and Daniel Rossen’s dueling vocals. Armed with enough keyboards to accompany twice as many band members, other album bombshells like “Yet Again” and “Sleeping Ute” demonstrated the band’s impressive diversity in switching instruments on the fly with little to know down time in between. Only stopping the streak to play Veckatimest’s “Two Weeks” and a few other older tracks, Grizzly Bear proved Shields’ worth as a live-capable album that translates perfectly to stadium majesty. –AG

Tegan & Sara

Out of all the sets I saw at Lollapalooza with maybe the exception of Nine Inch Nails, this one had the most hardcore fans. I was standing near a lady who told me this was her eighth time seeing them, and I couldn’t think of a T&S related question she couldn’t answer. The twins came on stage, everyone cheered, and they opened their set with “Drove Me Wild,” a dancy tune from their latest, Closer. Having grown up listening extensively to SainthoodThe ConIf It Was You and So Jealous, (I’m a big enough fan to be able to, say, tell them apart) I danced along but awaited older songs. While it’s understandable that a band would want to promote its latest album, I wasn’t expecting more than half the songs they played to come from it. Where was “Walking With the Ghost”? How about “On Directing” or “I Was Married”? It’s hard to hate on such a joyful band playing to such a joyful crowd, but the high-school-me was disappointed. They did play “Living Room” though, so all was well. –MR

Vampire Weekend

After a string of sold-out summer tour dates, a handful of late-night television appearances, and presumably the best album of 2013, Vampire Weekend certified that they’re enjoying the greatest year of their career (so far) with a stellar Sunday evening performance complete with a colorful backdrop, gigantic false mirror, and levitating Doric columns. The set heavily featured tracks off this year’s Modern Vampires of the City, but also included older fan favorites “Oxford Comma,” “A-Punk,” and raucous closer “Walcott.” Fans were also treated to a delightful mash-up of Contra cut “Horchata” and newer favorite “Everlasting Arms.” Bassist Chris Baio danced joyfully through the entire set, while front man Ezra Koenig was appreciative and humbled by the festival’s turnout, remarking, “Chicago and New York have a lot in common…but one thing we don’t have is a festival that could draw so many people to the heart of the city. Nothing else compares to Lollapalooza.” It was an attitude of awe and admiration reciprocated by the huge mass of fans singing along to every word. –Tyler Durgan

The Cure

I’m a huge Cure fan, and growing up in the boring Chicago suburbs, each year I would pray that The Cure (or Smashing Pumpkins) would appear on the Lollapalooza lineup. This year, my wish finally came true, and I had the entire weekend to anticipate their headlining set ending the festival. When the clock struck 8, smoke covered the stage, from which emerged Robert Smith, guitar in tow, leading his band in “Plainsong”. It was magical. From the perfectly distorted guitar to the twinkly chimes to Smith’s throaty bellows into the microphone, the entrance was a sure sign of a fantastic set to come. Even though there were songs I wish they had played namely much of Seventeen Seconds, I wasn’t at all disappointed. For a band that can play four-hour shows, they did an excellent job of choosing the best mix of songs from their extensive catalogue. “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” was an epic, building masterpiece, as was “Want,” Both are favorites of mine (the latter from what I consider a very underrated album from 1996, Wild Mood Swings). “Just Like Heaven” and of course “Friday I’m In Love” were huge crowd sing-alongs. Although he’s looked better, the eye shadow and lipstick-wearing frontman Smith is still a cultural goth through and through, dancing and making goofy expressions to entertain the audience. After a bewitchingly gloomy set, the band left the stage, but there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that they would return from an encore. That encore was made up of more poppy and energetic tunes – “The Lovecats” and “Close To Me” among them, and to wrap things up, “Boys Don’t Cry”. I really can’t even express in words how much it meant to me to see one of my favorite bands ever – how good they sounded and how excited I was to see Robert Smith right in front of me and to sing along to his music. It came and went all too quickly, and even though after a long Lolla weekend I could hardly feel my legs, I would have been fine with at least two more hours of The Cure. Best set of the weekend and a great way to end Lollapalooza. –MR

Phoenix

The most surprising headliner choice of any festival all summer, Phoenix’s set Sunday night certainly proved the naysayers wrong, reminding us all of the supreme power of the French garage-pop group’s 2009 breakthrough record, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Hook-heavy crowd-pleasers “Lisztomania,” “Lasso,” and “1901” inspired huge sing-alongs, while mash-ups of lesser known tracks off new record Bankrupt! kept the performance moving and the mood light. Oddly, Phoenix did not make an encore appearance, instead opting to bookend the night by both opening and closing with the Oriental-gentrifying “Entertainment.” Although the set was particularly brief for a headlining spot, both the crowd and the band themselves left seeming satisfied and confident in Phoenix’s delivery. –TD

For detailed coverage from all three days of Lollapalooza, follow @BuzzMagCU on Twitter and @ReadBuzz on Instagram, and individual writer accounts @MaddieRehayem (Twitter and Instagram) and @TylerIsntFunny (Twitter).