AU ABROAD

Wild weather mars the third and final day of Lollapalooza; Florence and the Machine closes out the annual Chicago event.


Photo Credit: Andrew Wade (at Splendour in the Grass)

The Windy City of Chicago gave precedence to its name today when, after a windy and hot morning that covered many of the stages in dust, a looming storm cell forced organisers to evacuate Grant Park ahead of its arrival. The evacuation lasted less than an hour, during which time everyone exited the park without any reported incidences, re-entered after the storm proved to be non-eventful (at the park at least), and the music picked up where it left off. The schedule was moved forward an hour and the event was granted an hour's extension on their schedule as it was back in 2012. In the end, the extension wouldn't be needed.

Before the storm changed the day's schedule, Brisbane's Sheppard helped open the festival, bringing forward a huge crowd, with "Geronimo" getting everyone singing along. UK's The Wombats and Circa Waves hit the festival's main arena early, while Australia was well represented by DMA's and Alison Wonderland. When the storm hit, Shakey Graves was coming to the end of his set, and George Ezra - performing solo - had just arrived to legions of screaming fans.

On the first evacuation, Charlie Jones, partner of C3 Presents, the promoter for Lollapalooza, said in a released statement: "We want to thank the tens of thousands of festival goers, staff, and artists who calmly and safely exited from Grant Park today. We also applaud and thank the City of Chicago for their cooperation and commitment to making Lolla a safe and enjoyable experience for all. Once again Chicago has come through and we’re proud to call the city our partner."

Ezra was one of the first to return to the stage when the festival re-opened, and treated fans to an unplanned rendition of "Did You Hear The Rain?", a soulful number without instrumentation, in tribute to the evacuation. His set closed out with his popular single "Budapest". The day continued with an hour delay with the likes of Australia's Angus & Julia Stone, Marina and the Diamonds, Of Monsters and Men and The Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr. (who was one of the few artists to play at his originally scheduled time, switching with Wild Belle).

The threat of a second evacuation loomed as the festival drew to a close with visible lightning in the distance and a responsive festival ensuring the situation was well signposted through video screens, social media and push notifications via their app. Set times were shortened to ensure that all acts got the chance to play should a second evacuation be necessary. Original 60 minute delays were cut back to 30 minutes as artists like Nicky Romero, TV on the Radio and FKA Twigs played reduced sets, ensuring the headliners - including Kygo, Bassnectar and Nero - were able to hit the stage.

Fresh from her headlining stint at Splendour in the Grass in Australia last weekend, it was UK star Florence Welsh who brought Lollapalooza to an end for many of the nearly 90,000 in attendance. With songs like "St Jude", which was about a storm that hit the coast of England, and "Cosmic Love", which she dedicated to the storm, the cascading lightning in the distance seemed only to complement the sparking stage that was outfitted for Florence + The Machine. As the set continued, she seemed to be acting as conductor to the foreboding light show. In the end, "the weather has won and we have been asked to leave the stage" as Florence announced that "The Dog Days are Over" would be her last song, cutting her set short by over half an hour, and the festival ended up closing up their doors shortly ahead of their originally scheduled time.

But not before Florence stripped off to her bra and darted into the crowd with every ounce of energy she had in her, ensuring the crowd left the eventful day on a high note.

In a statement released to media after the doors closed, Sandee Fenton, director of publicity for C3 Presents, the promoter behind Lollapalooza, said: "As we stated early today, our first priority is always the safety of our fans, staff and artists. While we are disappointed to end the festivities early, safety always comes first."

While Lollapalooza may be at a slightly premature end for this year, stay tuned to the AU's Lollapalooza Hub for more photos, features and backstage interviews from the event. The next Lollapalooza event will take place in Berlin for the first time ever on September 12th and 13th. Head to http://www.lollapaloozade.com/en for more details.

Larry Heath is reporting from the festival grounds