Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lollapalooza 2013 Run Thru

I'm going to quickly run through my thoughts of Lollapalooza 2013, much more for myself than for anyone else (do I expect anyone to really care?). If you feel like reading this, then go for it!

I arrived late on Thursday night and went to sleep at midnight. My next-best plans would have been to try to go to a free show with the Smith Westerns, but I was sleepy. Friday afternoon I went to eat lunch with my uncle and his friend at one of the myriad new Chipotle-of-mediterranean-food spots downtown, Nesh. It was not bad. First on my agenda Friday was Smith Westerns. I'd have attended Icona Pop if I was there an hour earlier, but no big loss at all. I got enough of hearing bands' one big hit by walking past Perry's stage throughout the weekend.

Smith Westerns were as OK as ever. It would have been fun to catch their Live on King Street show--man, those Lollapalooza crowds are so disgustingly large. Watched half of Jessie Ware's set, which was alright, but not amazing. Again, would have been better at TNK in January inside a dark venue. She shouted out Disclosure three or four times throughout the set, which was cool. I like it when bands do that (Grizzly Bear did it for Beach House, their 'favorite band in the world'). Next, Father John Misty. I honestly don't think I've heard the record yet, but I liked the show. J. Tillbro was really snarky, which is always fun. Next, Crystal Castles. Again, the sunlight killed the vibe, but it wasn't all that bad. The best part of the show was how much Alice Glass bit the Daria/Enid from Ghost World look. The crowd around me was dead, but that was my fault for getting there as the show was starting. Sorry, but Father John was too good to skip out on too early! I spent twenty minutes after CCs with Dillon Francis at the amazing Perry's distopia, then I ate some food and watched a few songs of Imagine Dragons from several hundred feet away on a hill.

I met up with Christian and handed off his wristband that I'd been holding on to and got a free bottle of Fiji water along with a branded (seriously?) Fiji plastic straw that screwed into the top of the bottle. Pretty fun. We saw a bit of Disclosure and then went to Queens of the Stone Age. I never went through/am in a QoTSA 'phase', and I was pleased with how many songs I knew. It was an enjoyable show. I skipped out to try and see some Chance the Rapper, but the stage was so overrun by little (suburban) Chicagoans that I couldn't handle it. More power to them for getting excited about Chance though! I saw Flux Pavillion play three or four songs, which was fun. "Can you guys stop?" FP asked the audience before dropping their 'big one.' It was groanworthy but worth it to hear the song live. Something to check off whatever list.

Highlight of Day 1 may have been Hot Chip. What a terrific band. It was the only set I was able to completely forget I was at a huge festival and the only time I felt crushed when they finished playing. Man, what a great band!!!!! As HC wrapped up 'I Feel Better' I headed for Nine Inch Nails. I stood on the sidelines until 'March of the Pigs' and then got to the magical spot where it makes more sense to watch the real-life Trent than the one on the big display screens (convenient, as they'd turned them off for the set), which was fun. I don't go to a lot of shows that attract the same crowd that NIN does, which made being smushed between them a novel experience and more enjoyable. The set was really enjoyable, and during an ambient part of the set (really) I snuck off to trade my close spot for three songs of Lana Del Rey. I was colossally disappointed to catch only one song I wanted to hear sandwiched between my two least favorite LDR songs (Summertime Sadness > Video Games > National Anthem). Would've been so happy to catch Blue Jeanz/Born 2 Die, but what can you do! I saw NIN close out their set and then met with Christian and headed to the Bottom Lounge.

Full roll of toilet paper in the Porta Potty: Some men just want to watch the world burn.
This picture doubles as a Death Grips metaphor.

Keep in mind as you, Future Brandon or maybe someone else, read this that before this show there had been pretty much no news featuring Death Grips recently other than posting a FB picture with Rob Pattinson and Beyonce. Also, I haven’t read reports of the show on Reddit etc yet other than the largely uninformative/uninformed Pitchfork article.

So: Enter the Bottom Lounge, there is an electro DJ playing hits and alt-bros slamdancing (What??). I leave and then later return to make my way to the tight radius around real-life idol Zach Hill's set. Fog's rolling in and people are setting up the stage after DJ WHoever finishes his set. I notice that DG have a projection set about the size of the stage of their gmail account. Funny! Then I realize that it's a tarp and not a projection, and though I first assume the email they have up is one from their old record label that they released. Again, pretty whatever. As I read it, though, I realize it is this really disturbing suicide note that someone has sent them a few months ago. It's not a suicide note per se, but rather a note expressing adoration and the author's concern over priorities of art and his own life. The note is transcribed online if you want to read it. I found it decidedly in bad taste, even for such an aggressive group, and as I looked forward waiting for the group to get on stage, I kept finding myself looking at the words. It put a very bad taste in my mouth.

Finally, the lights went out and the intro to Ex-Military starts playing loudly. People around me (I am 2nd row under the SR speakers) go nuts. The intro plays into the beginning of the song.. and then the end. Another DG song starts playing, and it occurs to me that they're starting the show off with a DJ set of their own material, which is think is a hilarious jab at the DJ who was not a good fit for the DG vibe at all. Another song plays, and another. The lights are still down, the fog is still pouring in periodically, and the music is still really loud. The stage is as empty as ever: just the banner and the band’s equipment (complete with the electronics for Andy Morin.)

Another song plays, and another, and another. Two guys get on stage and one of them grabs all of Zach’s drum sticks and walks off. People in the crowd are confused and getting angry. A group of people is moshing in the middle of the crowd. The guy next to me is crushed as the rest of us and keeps promising his date that as soon as Zach comes out and he can get a picture of him, they can leave the front of the stage. More people get up on the stage, some to stage dive and others just to weirdly walk around on the stage because they realize the Bottom Lounge security isn’t going to do anything about it. Two on stage grab bottles of water and knock over the floor tom. Fast forward through more of this until 45 or 60 minutes after the start of the ‘set’, when someone cuts off the music, turns on the lights, and delivers a short message about how Death Grips never showed up and that we would be getting a refund and that if there was anyone to be mad at, it was Death Grips. I’m glad I stayed to see the rest of the show through, because two guys got on stage and grabbed Zach’s kick drum and brought it to the center of the room before starting to throw it at the ground. A circle quickly formed around the dudes. There’s pictures of it online. It hit the ground something like ten times before a security staff member gave the guys an “alright, alright enough” and asked for the drum, which they gave back to them willingly. There was no more equipment touched than the kick drum and the drum sticks.. y’know, for the record. I left the venue and debriefed with Christian in the McDonalds across the street. There was a long line of angry Death Grips fans ahead of us (a funny sight, by the way), so we left empty handed.

Saturday I ate breakfast with Christina, Adam, Mary, and Christian at endgrain on Addison, which was really fun. Great people, very good food. I handbilled for Summer Set and then made it inside Lollapalooza in time to catch the second half of Local Natives. It was very cool to see them and compare venues to the different places I’d seen the band. Amazing. Went to a bit of Baauer, which was an amazing journey through hormones gushing from people as far as the eye could see. My top quote from anyone this weekend was from a teen boy to one of his friends talking about his thoughts on the Perry’s stage: an impressively earnest “I love this place.”

Then to Eric Church for 5 or 6 songs, and then to get a close spot for the National. The National was way better than I expected. I cried during Slow Show, which is kind of funny and was frankly pretty embarrassing because I was alone and it was the middle of daylight. YOLO though! I was let down by Haim, who played a much more rock and roll set than a groovy one, at least for the couple of songs that I caught on the way to Kendrick Lamar. It’s good, but not what I was expecting. Maybe I’ll get into this Haim record.. we’ll see. Not sure at this point. One of my favorite festival maneuvers is to get up close during a rowdy show followed by a set that doesn’t share a target audience. I did this at Kendrick Lamar > Postal Service and then at 2 Chainz > Cat Power, both to huge success. Woop woo! I was in the second row for Postal Service, the closest I think I’ve ever been at a Lolla headliner’s set on the main stage. The show was really wonderful. Lots of fun. Big ups on ya Postal Service.

I met Christian and went to see Diiv at the Empty Bottle. Boy, do I love that place. Radar Eyes opened and they were great (it’s much easier to be impressive when you’re not opening for Guided By Voices). I was honestly let down by Diiv. I’ve seen them a number of times and this particular show was just too sloppy for my tastes. You know, I guess I’m just looking for a cleaner live sound from the band based on that awesome sound they had on their cd. Zacharybro was rocking some amazing overalls though, and “probably Sky Ferreira” was a few people away from us in the audience, which is as “whatever” as it gets.  Chalk it up to the high bar set by Friday night’s aftershow, but Saturday’s was pretty OK.

Sunday was my shortest day, but it was still nice. Handbilled more for Summer Set, missed Angel Haze (oh well), then watched Baroness and then listened to the second half of the set while reading something for work I’d brought with me. I’d never had a backpack with me at a festival, but it turns out that it’s pretty cool to have a backpack of stuff at your disposal. I brought out my book a few times throughout the day when I was waiting for a set and I got a lot done! I am not a big Baroness fan at all (it’s not my flavor of metal) but it was as entertaining a show as anything else. I continued to have sort of a wasteland of festival time for a few hours, catching partial sets by Tegan and Sara & Wavves, both bands that are not today what they once were. I staked a spot out for Grizzly Bear, who were unsurprisingly great. There was a big tall dude right in front of me which harshed my vibe, but whatever! I watched four or five Beach House songs, then stood far stage left for 2 Chainz, who was pretty good himself. What a great festival act for 2013! I ate some plates of curry and rice, which was fun, and then got primed for the end-of-set exodus. Without too much difficulty, I slid into the center front row for Cat Power. I’d estimate that 50 people tops remained at the front of the audience area for CP when the 2 Chainz crowd was gone. Pretty funny, no big surprise.

Cat Power was great! A lot of new songs (bummer) which were good, but I’d have wished for more oldies. I guess I’ll have to catch her ‘real’ show some time. It was a great end to my weekend. An exciting show to be sure, but it definitely felt like a small/wind-down set compared to the spectacles of the Cure/Phoenix on the main stages. I’d have liked to see the Cure, but when it comes down to it, I really wanted to see Cat Power more and her catalog means a lot more to me than theirs. I left feeling very content with my weekend.

Would I spend money on a pass to Lollapalooza? Definitely not. Way too big, way too many moments where I only attended a show because I was mildly interested in it. I’ll keep shooting for the souvenir passes on the cheap, but otherwise this might be one of my last Lollas for a while. It was a pretty good time, though, and a great opportunity to see groups I wouldn’t easily be able to catch otherwise and groups I wouldn’t want to invest in tickets to see.


1 comment:

  1. A whirlwind tour and a muse-ing capture. I continue to wait patiently for you to quit your day job and find your place in this space. Wedge in when the crowd spreads out and surf the sound wave, son-o-mine. : )