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Foo Fighters Close Out Lollapalooza With Monster Set

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lollapalooza 2011 day 3 foo fighters august 7 chicago
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs at Lollapalooza 2011.
Alex Reside for RollingStone.com

On Day Three of Lollapalooza, most of the festival’s approximately 90,000 attendees didn’t look like mere concertgoers – they resembled war casualties. Two punishing rainstorms yesterday turned Grant Park into a giant mud pit, leaving fans drenched, dirt-caked, and, in especially dire cases, shoeless.

A huge fan contingent was jamming to Cage the Elephant’s grungy blues-rock when the skies opened, but instead of running for cover, they screamed even louder. The band picked up on the generous vibe: "If for some reason I get dropped into the crowd and knocked unconscious," said frontman Matthew Shultz, "I want you guys to pass my body around for the rest of the day." Minutes later came one of the weekend’s coolest scenes: thousands of fans raising their hands and singing along to the Kentucky rockers’ 2009 smash "Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked," all the while getting soaked by torrential rain. 

The Hottest Photos from Lollapalooza 2011

Fittingly, the sun peeked out (and with it, a gorgeous rainbow over Lake Michigan) around the time Damian Marley and Nas took the stage. Marley, who waved his native Jamaica’s flag as if to beckon beach-ready weather, performed a cover of his late dad’s classic "Exodus"; Nas stuck to rap with a scathing rendition of his 2006 cut "Hip Hop Is Dead."

Earlier in the day, reunited new wave legends the Cars hit the Music Unlimited stage, which frontman Ric Ocasek strutted onto in impossibly skinny black pants. The band’s set mixed new tunes (the blippy "Blue Tip," off 2011’s Move Like This, the Cars’ first album in 24 years) with upbeat vintage favorites like "Good Times Roll" and "My Best Friend’s Girl," but Ocasek & Co. lacked their trademark pep.

Despite a 30-minute rain delay, Brit rockers the Arctic Monkeys were more energetic, running through fast-paced crowd-pleasers like "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "Florescent Adolescent." Toward the end of the foursome’s show, lead Monkey Alex Turner noticed the crowd getting antsy (most likely for the Foo Fighters, who were on deck). "We only have two songs left, Chicago," he said. "Dig deep."

Unlike Lolla’s previous two days, where the masses fanned out among the festival’s eight stages, it was clear who most people came to see on Sunday: the Foo Fighters. And for good reason: less than 24 hours after their epic after-show for an audience of 1,150 at Chicago club Metro, the alt-rock kings hammered out another blazing performance.

Led by Dave Grohl, the band unleashed ferocious riffs and equally loud choruses on everything from new tracks ("Bridge Burning," "Rope") to throwbacks ("My Hero," "Monkey Wrench"). As rain began to pound down once again (perhaps summoned by Taylor Hawkins’ Earth-shaking drumming?), the crowd sang along with Grohl on "Learn to Fly." The lyric, "I’m looking to the sky to save me," was apropos.   

At the park’s north end, Toronto-based producer Deadmau5’s stage set looked like the inside of a psychedelic video game. As the artist formerly known as Joel Zimmerman – who appeared wearing a massive, L.E.D.-lit mouse head – blasted through rave-ready, electro grooves, the audience waved light-saber-style sticks and twirled inside glow-in-the-dark hula-hoops. The performance’s eye candy – swirling shapes, colorful lasers – was almost as thrilling as its songs, the beginnings and ends of which often bled into one another. The fans didn’t mind the ambiguity: Even as Lollapalooza’s 10 p.m. closing time approached, Deadmau5’s fluid, swelling beats made the party seem like it would go on forever.  

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