Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Day at Lollapalooza

There was no writing done last Friday because of a break so that I could attend Lollapalooza. Lollapalooza started out as a touring fest but is now only held in Chicago and features an awesome line up of musical talent. Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell is the architect of this behemoth event and all the awesome bands that take over Grant Park and Chicago’s lakefront for a weekend every year.

Even though I desperately wanted to attend on all three days, the husband’s firehouse schedule and my other maternal responsibilities limited me to attending for just one day, so I picked Friday. I did entertain the idea of taking the boys with me since I'd only have to purchase a ticket for the elder son and not the younger since kids 10 and under were admitted for free. But I resisted since I really didn't want to be irritated with either of them for exhibiting kid-like behavior (I'm tired, I'm hungry, when are we going home, etc.) and interfering with my fun.

As I boarded the train stop near my house, I joined many other folks who were bound for the festival. I could tell they were on their way to Lolla because of their accoutrements (flips fliops, water bottles, blankets, etc. and assorted band t-shirts) The train was definitely the way to go because I could drink without worrying about driving out of the city afterwards. Believe me, between Lollapalooza taking up Grant Park and the filming of the Transformers 3 movie, downtown was a nightmare for folks in cars what with all the street closings.

I didn’t arrive in time for the early acts, so first up for me was Mavis Staples and OMG was she in great voice. At 71 years old or so, she still rocked the house and her backing band and vocalists were crisp. Jeff Tweedy from Wilco joined her on stage at one point. She performed on the Budweiser stage and had an enormous crowd even though up against Rafael Saddiq who performed at the same time on the larger Parkways stage at the other end of the park.

Since I'd also decided that I wanted to see the New Pornographers more than I wanted to see Devo, I hung around the Budweiser stage after Mavis Staples and just turned around to listen to the Drive By Truckers who were on the Playstation stage which bookended that section of the park. They did fine with their southern rockabilly for about half an hour before I got bored and went in search of the bar. You should all be VERY proud of me because I had to pass the cupcake vendor no matter which way I went and I resisted their best attempts to lure me in. Red velvet cupcakes are usually a guaranteed sale with me, but I decided that I would not ruin my impromptu workout (all the walking from stage to stage) by stuffing my face with cake.

Going on my own was fine too even though I missed my friends who were originally supposed to attend as well, but couldn't make it. It was a really clear and sunny day, but hot (85 degrees Farenheit) so after the cocktails, I made a beeline for the water bottle refill station. Then I found a good spot, put down my mini-blanket and sunned for a bit before the New Pornographers came on.

They sounded great, maybe a little "polished" but not in a bad way. They were energetic but didn't mess around with the music. And ALL of the NPs were there including Neko Case. She looked adorable in her floppy hat (one of her band mates offered her $500 for it) and was in great voice for the two songs she sang, Crash Years and Mass Romantic. Kathryn sang most of the other songs that required a female vocalist which seemed fair but odd, I guess. I know that Kathryn came in when Neko's solo career took off, but it seemed strange to almost see Neko as guest vocalist. All in all though, the New Pornographers didn't disappoint and I shot a bit of video of two really cute guys in front of me who danced for the whole of the set.

Now that I was armed with both a drink, a full water bottle and sunscreen (tried to buy a hat but the long lines won and I gave up), I headed over to the adidas stage for Matt & Kim. They were excellent and had a big crowd also. I recognized the two songs that my friend Ang sent on her excellent compilation and it seems that everyone else there did too. There were plenty of beachballs being bandied about and Matt is really charming and charismatic. He kept the crowd rocking (and his clothes on this time) and even though he talked between songs, it wasn't too much. Kim did her bit by banging the hell out of those drums. Once they were done, I sprinted back to the Budweiser stage (think 8 city blocks) to catch my new favorites, the Black Keys.

I was feeling really good about all of the bands I'd seen up to that point but I tell you, the Black Keys were worth the ticket price. This duo blends rock and bluesy soul like no other. Think Jimi Hendrix meets Cream meets Albert King or John Lee Hooker. They sang all my favorite songs and I did shoot a little footage with my Flip. But I also learned that you can be a dancer or you can shoot video, but you can't do both. So, sometimes the video might be a bit shaky or sideways or something not conducive to watching without hurling. I also suspended shooting at one point because the cute guy in front of me kept staring and smiling at me. Now, I'm never against being friendly but I think this guy thought I was shooting "him." Even though he was cute, his shoes were all wrong and I'm nothing if not snobbish, shallow and crazy about footwear. So, basically he was getting on my nerves by being in the way of me trying to film Dan and Patrick.

After the Black Keys, honestly I could've just gone home but I'm glad I stayed. I really wanted to see Hot Chip, but they were on at the same time as the Black Keys. I did race over (all the way to the Parkways stage at the south end of the park) and heard the final two minutes of their last song. It was great and the crowd cheered for more, even after they left the stage.

While waiting for Lady Gaga/the Strokes, I wandered by Jimmy Cliff (a wonderful cover of Cat Steven’s Wild World), Jamie Lidell (what a voice!) and ended up at the end of Chromeo's set in preparation for GaGa. There were a sea of folks to see Lady G and some of them in full regalia. I didn't get too close but the jumbo video screens helped. Lady Gaga showed the crowd her love and reminisced with DJ Lady Starlight about their 2007 Lollapalooza appearance on the much smaller BMI stage. Her voice was strong and clear and even though she talked a bit too much between songs and what with all the costume changing and dark alleyways set, it made her set drag a bit for me. After she sang Alejandro, I bolted back to catch the last half hour of the Strokes. They were in full on rock frenzy and played a great set to close out the night.

By that time, I was a little headachy (not a word I'm sure but you know what I mean) from all the sun and so left the park and stopped off to have some Tom Yum soup and a little Pad See Eiw before boarding the train with the few thousand other people who were leaving too.

Here are a few links to Day One reviews:






I was almost tempted to buy tickets for the kids and me for the Sunday just to see MGMT, Arcade Fire, Soundgarden, Felix da Housecat, Cypress Hill and Erykah Badu. My willpower held out so I just listened to some of the bands through the radio feed.

All in all, Lollapalooza was great and I’ll definitely go again.


Judy Croome said...

Pamala, that sounds like a GRAND adventure! It's so great that you managed to have a marvellous time and enjoyed the music, even though you went on your own. I'm not crazy about going places on my own but, surprisingly, when I do, I come home refresehed because I remember myself as who I am other than a wife, a daughter, a friend etc. :)
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Pamala Knight said...

Hi Judy!
I know how you feel about going places alone but I didn't mind at all. I had fun and most of the other people encountered at the fest were friendly. It was a great day. Thanks for stopping by.