From Brazil

with Vincent Bevins and guests


Vincent Bevins é colaborador do jornal britânico 'Financial Times' e correspondente no Brasil do 'Los Angeles Times'. Escrito em inglês, blog aborda principais acontecimentos do Brasil sob o olhar de um estrangeiro.



Lollapalooza Brazil

Por frombrazil

 The latest in a wave of Brazilian mega-festivals brings the eager masses some long-time favourites amidst moments of old-school Brazilian chaos.

By Claire Rigby

The racetrack at São Paulo’s Jockey Club was a hive of activity under a layer of floodlit mist last week, while inside the bar, a handful of punters placed their bets with a young woman circulating with a stack of race cards. But it wasn’t race night, and the only bets going were on races beamed in from Rio.

What had the place lit up and rigging crews working flat out was the setting up for Lollapalooza – the first Brazilian edition of the Chicago festival founded by Perry Farrell of the band Jane’s Addiction, following a version in Santiago de Chile in 2011.

With four stages and a lineup featuring bands including Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the festival pulled in hundreds of workers, and took months of toil, planning and schmoozing on the parts of the people from Lollapalooza and their local partners, Geo. The first of many more editions to come, they hope, the festival took place last Saturday and Sunday, drenched in sunlight and drenched in rain too – a classic São Paulo weekend, and one full of surprises.

In a growing pattern over the last few years, and in parallel with music business efforts to increase income from live music, newly affluent Brazil has the money to bring in bands that have long had huge fan bases here, but that no one had yet been able to see play. It’s rumoured that some acts are paid as much as three times what they earn to play the USA or Europe, and are frequently shocked by the size and enthusiasm of the crowds that welcome them.

It’s a mix that can throw up an exciting and chaotic set of experiences. Lollapalooza was textbook in that respect.

Who knew that MGMT, so electrifying in the studio, would be so subdued and melancholy live; or that old-school locals Pavilhão 9 would still rock their hip hop/hardcore mix so powerfully; or that The Crystal Method, the Las Vegas electronica duo, would tear it up so beautifully, raining down beats on a small, appreciative crowd when everyone else had gone to see Foo Fighters?

Sunday evening brought a magnificent show of lightning and heavy, low-slung black clouds that burst before MGMT came on stage, soaking those in the crowd who stuck around for the band’s set, and sending the rest scurrying off to find shelter. But there’s nothing weird about rain at a festival, and the festival organisers had anticipated it with a huge covered space for one of the smaller stages, plus a large canopy over one of the sponsored areas – the incongruous Calvin Klein tent, one of a set of otherwise weirdly pointless corporate ‘spaces’.

What the organisers perhaps hadn’t anticipated were the set of three separate queues that had to be endured in order to buy a beer. Forty minutes in one queue, then 20 in another and 10 in a third set pulses racing in all the wrong ways, as festival-goers queued to buy vouchers, then joined another dozens-strong line to exchange them for food or drink. We weren’t the only ones to reach the front of the second queue only to find we’d missed the queue for the wristbands proving we were of legal drinking age – apparently essential, even for those of us sadly and very obviously past our underage-drinking prime.

The result: thirtysomethings and fortysomethings reduced to begging twentynothings to buy beer for them.

The eccentricity of such systems is familiar to anyone used to Brazilian nightclubs, where you run up a tab and then queue up, right when you’re ready to leave, for often considerable lengths of time in order to pay. The product of a reluctance to allow all but a tiny proportion of servers to handle cash, the queues usually appear to go unremarked by patient Brazilians, but they racked up complaints all over Facebook and beyond after Lollapalooza, and led to a loss of interest in buying beer on the parts of some – one of my colleagues lost heart and went without for most of the day – and panic overbuying on the parts of others. R$12 worth of Lollapalooza coupons, anyone?

Claire Rigby is the editor of Time Out São Paulo, in English. She was previously the editor of Time Out Buenos Aires, and has worked as a freelance journalist for titles including the Guardian and the Telegraph.

She writes for From Brazil every other Wednesday.

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