Rainy start to day one of Lollapalooza

6 p.m.: Early in Disclosure's set, British brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence give ample credit to a key inspiration behind their output. “Chicago, home of house music, how are you doing?” they say. “We love Chicago and everything its music has done for us!” The pair's music is universally danceable, built around a throbbing bass groove, pressed-to-a-crease drums and vocal samples that draw on everything from soul to disco. Despite the music's density, every detail is absolutely crystalline, and even songs with misleading titles like “White Noise” come across with all the all the clarity of a hi-definition sports broadcast. Though arguably the most buzzed-about band on Friday's bill, the brothers appear unfazed by the attention, layering their seamless electronic compositions with live vocals, drums and guitar — a touch that helps further distance the two from the dubstep fare booming through the soundsystem across the park at Perry's stage. It proves to be an irresistible mix. As the pair puts it on a slyly seductive “Voices,” “I tried to resist, but you caught me.” (AD)

6:02 p.m.: A rare sight: Actual instruments on the Perry's stage. England's Modestep serves stadium-sized dubstep via a combination of live playing and programmed samples. The presentation is loud, bombastic and tethered to the same monotonous low-to-high dynamic beat swells nearly every other electronic artist utilizes. Often, the quartet is drowned out by its backing tracks. Verbal commands to get "get ready," "jump" and "break stuff" also reinforce an ill-suited match of styles from nearly two decades ago: rap-rock. Modestep's testosterone-rich grind, cover of Prodigy's "Smack My [Expletive] Up" and aggro deliveries further the notion that Limp Bizkit's unheralded legacy lives on in the form of repetitive fare such as "Freedom" and "Burn Up." The tank-top-wearing muscle men slamming into each other in the crowd, too, recall the days when Fred Durst and Co. sold millions of records. Eesh. (BG)

6:17 p.m.: Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme appears to be a relatively affable fellow, but his music arrives in a foul mood. The darkening sky and gray skyscrapers behind the stage provide the perfect backdrop as Queens send cement blocks of sound firing from the speakers. The bass sounds like Godzilla strolling through Tokyo. Homme calls down "fire from above," as if demanding that the Sun show itself while his band steps on the accelerator. The singer cuts the momentum when he settles behind an electric piano for "The Vampyre of Time and Memory," but it's a well-timed moment, pulling the crowd closer after the opening guitar assault. "I'm all alone in this crowd," Homme sings. Before long, he and his bandmates are swinging some hip-swaying rhythms, and the mood turns festive. (GK)

6:43 p.m.: New Order's recognizable songs hit with a flurry: "Bizarre Love Triangle," "Regret," "Ceremony," "Blue Monday." And by any measure, every band at Lollapalooza that uses a synthesizer owes a proverbial tip of the hat to the overwhelmingly influential British band, whose disco groove-spiked fare remains more attractive, engaging and seamlessly blended than that of a majority of its younger peers. Crystal Castles' Alice Glass watches with the general public and no one seems to notice. Yet New Order now sounds softer, more dependent on keyboards than it did in its heyday. The loss of original bassist Peter Hook is hurting its bottom end and reducing leader Bernard Sumner and his mates to what qualifies as enjoyable albeit non-vital nostalgia.  (BG)  

7:02 p.m.: It probably sounded like a good idea to book Chance the Rapper on the relatively small BMI stage tucked between two rows of trees in the northeast corner of the park a few months ago. But since then, his second mix tape, "Acid Rap," has arrived, and it has turned the South Side MC into one of hip-hop's most talked-about new voices. Chance needs a bigger stage, as thousands strained to catch a glimpse of his set. Some desperate fans even resorted to climbing trees and light poles. It didn't allow for a lot of nuance, and Chance himself came off as slightly unprepared for the huge crowd -- his DJ and microphone set-up looking a bit puny. The rapper has no problem lifting the crowd's energy and keeping it stoked, though he does so at a cost, racing through the introspective "Acid Rain" and cutting short his instant classic "Pusha Man." But the good will of the audience is overflowing, and an arm-waving celebration breaks out during "Everybody's Something," a fitting punctuation for what has been a dizzying year for the 20-year-old MC. (GK)

7:16 p.m.: British DJ Joshua Steele, who performs under the name Flux Pavilion, has a knack for turning obnoxious sounds into inherently danceable grooves, and he has his full arsenal on display during his early evening set at Perry's stage. On one tune, it sounds like he's sampling a fleet of emergency service vehicles. On another, he lays down a buzzing bassline that mimics a dentist's drill. While much of the action on the fest's go-to electronica stage could best be described as relentless, Steele enjoys toying with tempo, and occasionally he slows the beat to a crawl. On "Cracks Begin to Show," for one, he drops everything from the mix save for a solitary piano, allowing the song to catch its breath before resurrecting the beat. Perhaps because of this, Steele's drops sound huge by comparison, and there are times the thundering beats conjure images of the "Pacific Rim" robots locked in an epic battle. (AD)

7:32 p.m.: In the midst of a rollicking "Late March, Death March," Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchinson unwittingly stumbles onto some solid advice for the festival's numerous liquored-up attendees as he sings, "Get home and sleep this off." Fittingly, the Scottish six-piece swaggers through an array of folk-tinged epics as though the bandmates themselves had knocked a few back before hitting the stage. "You're making a mistake if you think I'm interested in quality," says Hutchinson while laying down the ground rules for an audience sing-along. "I don't care if you're in tune." Indeed, there are times the frontman's Scottish brogue grows thicker than moss when he sings, and his bandmates skillfully walk the line between loose and too loose on endearing ramblers like "December's Traditions" and "Nothing Like You." Best of all might be "My Backwards Walk," which starts off wobbly, like an infant taking those uneasy first steps, before the band discovers its footing near the midpoint and brings the tune to a memorable close. (AD)

7:49 p.m.: Synthesizers and sequencers continue to dominate the south end of Grant Park. Following New Order's established brand of new-wave and synth pop isn't an easy task, but fellow Englanders Hot Chip take the tempos down a few notches and relax the bass lines. The co-ed group plays shimmering music tailored for the crash-pad come-down after a late night out at the discotheque. Cowbells, tambourines, Atari-derived bleeps and even a steel drum flavor slithery, kinetic, hip-swaying grooves. Vocalist Alexis Taylor flexes a sweet falsetto as drummer Sarah Jones keeps the propulsion light on its feet. An apt version of Prince's "Irresistible [Expletive]" and flirtatious glam-rock accents don't disturb the band's alarm-clock precision. Refusing to hit the audience over the head with an assault of volume, Hot Chip persuade by way of cool understatement. (BG)

8:48 p.m.: Singer Lana Del Rey walks onstage dressed like a mystic in a headband and flowing dress and eases into a version of "Cola" so ethereal it nearly threatens to disappear altogether. Against a video backdrop projecting cloudy skies, the early portion of the set takes on a distinctly new age feel. Things perk up noticeably with a cinematic "Blue Jeans," driven in large part by the four-piece string section supporting the singer and her four-piece backing band. Del Rey, a singer so polarizing her name should come with a permanent hashtag attached, doesn't disappoint here, wavering between moments of stunning beauty ("Young and Beautiful" lives up to the second half of its title) and sheer curiosity. At one point, Del Rey interrupts her set to play a ponderous video that could pass for a perfume commercial. Fortunately she rebounds with an elegant "Ride," offering further proof of her ongoing development. (AD)

9:06 p.m.: Cue the pyrotechnics. The Killers launch into "Miss Atomic Bomb," a tune with as massive of dramatic flourishes as the title implies. Returning for a second headlining stint, the Las Vegas group is one of the few artists on the three-day lineup whose music is designed to work in spaces as large as a football stadium--and in front of crowds that fill them. Akin to a big-budget Hollywood film, you know what will happen during a Killers song and yet, popcorn in hand, you're drawn into the spectacle, glitz and predictability nonetheless. Flashing like neon lights on the Vegas strip, "Smile Like You Mean It," "Human" and "Spaceman" fizz with the cheap, quick satisfaction of an ice-cold soda on a hot summer day. Dandyish front man Brandon Flowers captures the attention of both sexes. Girls cherish his romance-novel narratives of hope, love, devotion, companionship and resolution. Guys yearn to utter his mawkish lines with such conviction in order to secure the attention of sexual partners. Hammy antics aside, the Killers also give the audience a history lesson. They pay homage to New Order by way of covering Joy Division's "Shadowplay" and acknowledge they took their name from a New Order video. It's almost enough to compensate for later covering Tommy James and the Shondells' cheesy hit "I Think We're Alone Now." Tiffany, anyone? (BG)

9:08 p.m.: Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor breaks into the explicit chorus of "Closer" and a spasm of impressionistic dancing breaks out among the fans stretched out to the south end of Butler Field. Has the Man from the Black Hole of '90s Industrial Music turned into a nostalgia act? Despite a set list dusted with vintage material, Reznor sounds like anything but a relic. The exceptional audio quality of the festival's northermost stage undelines not just the oppressive thrust of Reznor's music, but its eerie subtleties and darkly beautiful colorations as well. After a five-year hiatus, Reznor has retooled the band yet again, with a new album on the way. But everything still revolves around the leader and his exacting standards. A new song declares, "I'm just trying to find my way," but he hardly seems lost. (GK) 

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