A massive summer music festival is a funny place to see The Cure—aside from buoyant hits like "Just Like Heaven," the veteran British band's music is best heard while you sway in a red-lit goth club with black painted walls, or alone in your bedroom as you master the perfect Siouxsie Sioux-style eyeliner.
This didn’t stop tens of thousands of people from gathering on the massive lawn of Chicago's Grant Park—now covered with three days' worth of discarded beer cans and trampled plastic floral crowns—to hear the legendary band play two hours of moody love songs. And as those who've caught The Cure's festival appearances over the last two years would likely agree, they know how to captivate a crowd of any size, in any venue.
Wind chimes helped set the mood as the band opened with "Plainsong." Iconic frontman Robert Smith's voice was as strong as ever, and his iconic black-rimmed eyes, lipstick-red lips and "I just saw a ghost" shock of black hair instantly transported the crowd to a golden era of new wave that the majority of Lolla festivalgoers weren't yet alive for.
The band didn't make fans wait long for hits like "Pictures of You," "Fascination Street" and "Lovesong," which was an awesome reward for choosing them over Cat Power and co-headliners Phoenix at the other end of the park. "Just Like Heaven" was especially fun to hear, and the sea of onlookers rippled as they danced and sang along.
Smith kept between-song banter to a minimum, but that doesn’t mean he was all business. He seemed to especially relish performing "Wrong Number," shouting "Hello!" as he rolled his eyes up to the sky and then smiling as the audience cheered in response. He growled the "I’ll eat you all up" on "Why Can't I Be You?" and flaunted his falsetto during "The Lovecats"(which could be a theme song for summer '13, given the ubiquitous cat-shirts spotted at festivals).
Smith and company closed with "Boys Don't Cry," just a minute or two after Grant Park's mandatory 10 P.M. curfew. The satisfied crowd lingered until the stage lights went dark, signaling the end of an excellent Lollapalooza weekend. Smith is notoriously prickly about his music being labeled as gloomy and after last night's performance it's easy to see why—the show left us all smiling, which is not so goth after all.
Check out all the best photos from day 3 of Lollapalooza: