Lollapalooza: Quick thoughts on Imagine Dragons, Frightened Rabbit

Dan Reynolds of the band Imagine Dragons performs on day 1 of Lollapalooza 2013 at Grant Park on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, in Chicago. (Photo by Steve Mitchell/Invision/AP)

Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons hits the stage Friday at Lollapalooza. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Part of these big festivals is watching a band rock out a full set. And part of the festival (sometimes it seems like the bigger part) is walking from place to place. Chicago’s Grant Park, where Lollapalooza has taken place this year and the past eight years, is about a mile long. So, if one band ends its set at 5:15 p.m., you’re not going to see a full set by the band whose set starts at 5:15 p.m.

It’s sort of in that way that I caught partials from Imagine Dragons and Frightened Rabbit.

Imagine Dragons (so hot right now!) had the largest audience that I’ve ever seen for a non-headliner. It was nigh impossible to even traverse through the south end of the park because people clogged up the stairs, sidewalks and green space just to get a glimpse.

Unfortunately for fans, the “Radioactive” band’s power cut out right in the beginning of its set. Major bummer, dudes! Eventually the band did come back and played most of its set.

A 10-minute long version of “Radioactive” took over the crowd for Imagine Dragons’ last song. I won’t say it was transcendent or anything, but it was cool to see one of the hottest bands around play its massive hit to a ginormous audience. When that many people go off, it’s a sight.

Later, I made it over to see a partial set from one of my favorite bands: Frightened Rabbit. The Scotsmen were in their regular form, and played to the largest audience I’ve ever seen with them.

Most of what I saw came from the band’s major-label debut, “Pedestrain Verse,” but the most fun was had with some of the band’s older songs.

Frontman Scott Hutchison is known for pouring his emotions into his lyrics, but I’m continually impressed how emotionally the entire band plays its music. They throw everything they have into playing like they’re trying to conjure the melodies right out of their bones by force of sheer will.

But that’s kind of their philosophy. “Just give it all you can. And hope for the best,” Hutchison said to the gathered thousands. “That’s all you can do. That’s what got us here.”

Hutchison asked the crowd to be a “human accordion” for the opening of “Swim Until You Can’t See Land.” “My Backwards Walk” had a an arrangement that started with Hutchison alone and slowly built – like a glass gradually filling with sand – until it was a riot of music and emotion. They finished with “The Lonelieness and the Scream,” which was a sing-along, clap-along affair and perfect ending to the set.

“Have a f***ing fantastic evening,” Hutchison said. “You guys have been so incredible. Thank you so much!”

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