A special Friday edition of Toe Jam Mondays.

As Day 3 approached, the forecast called for rain all day and even though this would seem like terrible news to some, I was looking forward to a break from the scorching sun. It was raining as we ate breakfast so we stopped for rain boots and an umbrella. We were prepared for a downpour.

We got to Grant Park around 3pm, just as the sun was shining and my feet were sweating in my now un-needed rubber boots. We met up with friends to catch Hockey at one of the smaller stages. We were all hung-over but in good spirits for our final day of this adventure. I was a big fan of a couple of Hockey’s dance jams and was hoping their live show would change my mind about the rest of their album. I wouldn’t say that the album is bad, its just not anything new and exciting for me. but they definitely but a boogie in my boots.

Next up was MUTEMATH who I haven’t seen live since a random Warped Tour appearance a couple of years ago. Jordan told me that this live show couldn’t be missed, so we fought through the crowd to get a spot where I was able to see. Waiting to hear this quintet’s brand of experimental rock, I noticed the drummer’s headphones duck-taped to his head. I knew a spectacle would be coming. Kind of like watching that crazy dude at the bar who first catches your attention with some rare dance moves, but you know that it’s only the opener for his full-on assault of the dance floor. So you watch and wait. Singer Paul Meany led this futuristic-sounding band with Key-tar in hand to a crowd of singing fans. As their set was nearing its end, I saw what I had been waiting for… the assault was about to begin. As Paul extended his congratulations to recently married drummer Darren King, he came into the crowd for high fives, while the new groom proceeded to pick up his bass drum and play it like he was part of a marching band. Then he improvised a drum kit using anything he could find, from a mic stand to a piano. Paul was not to be out done though, pounding on his keyboard while kicking his feet in the air for a legit handstand atop the ivories. Well played boys.

MGMT was next and I truly did not know what to expect. Their new album Congratulations took a couple of listens for me to get into it, but now it makes me wish I was floating in a canoe with a good friend and cold beer every time I hear it. My reservation for this show was how well that feeling would translate to a large crowd. The answer was not too well. Their hipster favourites from Oracular Spectacular like Kids and Electric Feel are what kept most people interested, but you could tell most of them could care less for the newer tunes. They had their trademark neon-vintage outfits and quirky style, but their new album didn’t live up to what most people were expecting. I thought it was great, since I was taking it easy on the grass with beer and friends. Not quite a canoe, but close enough.

If you were not able to experience Lollapalooza this year, I hope I do this mind-blowing finale justice because I could not have imagined a better way to end this festival. I remember my friend Bodden calling me in late 2004 to catch this new band, Arcade Fire, at a small club in Toronto. And when I said I had things to do he informed me I would regret my decision big time. I still do. But Chicago seemed like a great venue for redemption.

Opening with Ready to Start, Arcade Fire proved once again that they are the reigning champs of indie rock anthems. Unlike some bands today that rely on songs with a catchy chorus to suck you in, but leave you waiting for the verse to be over so you can get back to the good part, Arcade Fire’s jams grab you from the first note and grow with beat and intensity. As the band continues to play, it turns into something much more than music, as it runs through your veins and bangs on your bones. Their choruses aren’t a fallback, they’re a bonus.

Their 90-minute set spanned 3 albums with classics peppered throughout their newest release. Singer Win Butler seemed genuinely shocked that the crowd of almost 70,000 people already knew all the words to songs from The Suburbs. Halfway through the set, they decided to play crowd favourite Crown of Love, dedicating it to their friends in The National with whom they had toured and who were disappointed Arcade Fire didn’t play the song more often. We were all happy with the decision, too.

The band played instruments like musical chairs at a party, jumping from drums to accordion to guitar and even a glockenspiel, without ever missing a beat or losing their passion. Butler encouraged the large crowd, telling them “By the end of a festival people are usually so burned they’ve got nothing left. I hope you’ve got a little more in the tank.” He and his band mates showed us that they were far from empty with a lead up to their encore that fuelled the crowd’s intensity. They went straight from Neighbourhood #3 into Rebellion(Lies), then into the darker Month of May and ended with Keep the Car Running. I was fist pumping like I belonged on Jersey Shore and singing louder than someone with my voice should.

As the band left the stage and the crowd continued to sing Keep the Car Running, I felt like I was at some kind of music camp bonfire on the night before you have to go home and back to school. They returned to finish our Chicago experience with Wake Up, which left the crowd singing “Woah-oooh…oooh” all the way down the Magnificent Mile.

Hats off to Perry Ferrell and the city of Chicago for hosting one of the best-run festivals anywhere in North America. See ya there next year!

Too Fake – Hockey

Indie Rokkers – MGMT

Typical – MUTEMATH

Wake Up – Arcade Fire

* If you are a member or manager of the above bands and you would like your track removed, please contact us and we will swiftly oblige. Fans – new or old – please support these bands by using your coffee money to buy their records.