Three days, 120+ bands, 225,000 people, and the first time that the festival has completely sold-out. Grant Park, as always, provided a spectacular setting, and the weather mostly cooperated, with rain holding off and only Friday bringing uncomfortable heat and humidity.
The only hitch, outside of long water lines and the obvious time it takes to get from one end of the park to another through a throng of people, were the few hundred gate crashers that busted through on Saturday night during Rage Against the Machine's set. While injuries and arrests were held to a minimum, it's unfortunate nonetheless, basically ensuring that any kind of hard rock band will be prevented from playing as a headliner in the near future. That means Metallica, highly likely to play in 2009, will now probably be kept away. It's also sad that for Chicagoans, who have waited a lifetime for the city to allow rock in the park, will now again see a clamp-down, particularly with the Olympic bid. No way will Chicago take a chance on anything happening before the host of the 2016 games is announced.
This year was dominated by the mid/late afternoon and evening acts, with the mostly inferior morning bookings demonstrating why the fest should consider scaling back a bit.
Among the top highlights: Gnarls Barkley, Kanye West, Wilco, Gutter Twins, Yeasayer,The National, Okkervil River, Saul Williams, and Cool Kids.
Unopposed headliner Radiohead had some terrific moments and inspired ambiance, but the band couldn't top its incredible 2001 Grant Park show or its 2006 dates at Auditorium Theatre.
As far some of the more recently hyped new acts, Duffy and MGMT proved they need work and more substance.
The biggest head-scratching moment? Overhearing "Runaround" and seeing that Blues Traveler was really playing on one of the larger stages. Are you kidding? Shouldn't you guys be at a state fair or something? Ugh.