Monday, August 8, 2011

August 5, 2011 Lollapalooza - I Still Believe

"Now who'd of thought that after all
 Something as simple as rock n roll would save us all" - I Still Believe by Frank Turner

For the second year in a row, I am heading to Grant Park for Lollapalooza to escape my real life. Once again I have given up my summer due to my job. I understand that plenty of people are out of work and the economy has sucked for over three years now. So it seems wrong to complain about working too much. Therefore I will just say that I have been looking forward to the next three days for months. Once again Lolla does not disappoint me. The first song I hear upon entering today is "Post Break Up Sex" by the Vaccines.
"Post break-up sex
That helps you forget your ex
What did you expect from post break-up sex"
Those lyrics put a smile on my face that lasted all day.
The Vaccines play pop songs with a hard British edge. I really enjoyed their set. I bought their CD and haven't stopped listening to it all week. A great start to my weekend. I have no definite plans to see anyone until Bright Eyes later tonight so I aimlessly walked around and here's what I saw.
 Lolla is all about the t-shirts.
 The Naked And Famous sounded real good. The crowd was really into them. I think they fall into the dance rock/pop style. Kind of sounds like Temper Trap or MGMT if they rocked more than danced. Catchy tunes with a British sound.
 Chicago's skyline makes a unique backdrop for a music festival..
This young fan came prepared to rock out for many years to come.
 I stumbled across the Electric Touch setting up on the BMI Stage something about them made me stick around to check them out. I'm glad I did...
...because they were a hard rocking band with a melodic punk sound. Pretty much everything I like rolled into one band.
 The city and the Lollapalooza people do a great job putting on this festival. I've said this in the past but I really have to hand it to them. Well, knowing what I know about how the city of Chicago works, let me compliment Lollapalooza crew.

As I walked into the north end of the park, I found the crowd dancing to the Chilean band, Los Bunkers. Even though I couldn't understand the Spanish lyrics, the music was contagious. I couldn't stop myself from joining in the fun. Which brings me to another aspect of Lolla that I love...the kids. As a 46 year old anyone under 35 is a kid to me. I enjoy watching the kids having a great time as much as I enjoy listening to the music. The youthful energy and the great individual styles most of the younger people bring to Lollapalooza is what makes it so much fun for me. God knows, I need some of that energy to last 10 hours rockin' out under the hot summer sun.
 These girls were dancing to every song by Los Bunkers.
 Lots of people have stuffed animals on poles, I think it makes it easier to find your friends in the crowd. This Muse loving Lollapalooza Panda was rocking out to Grace Potter & the Nocturnals.
 There is always something interesting to look at in the crowd.

I was so far back for Grace Potter & the Nocturnals that this was the only picture I could get. But she was filling the park with the rocking soul sound like she was a direct descendant of Janis Joplin. I highly recommend checking her out.
This is Le Butcherettes. Lead singer Terri Gender Bender makes Grace Potter sound like she's singing children's nursery rhymes. This was a high energy somewhat violent set. After one song she slammed her head into the microphone so hard it hurt my head. Still the high speed punk songs even got my fat ass jumping around.
 A band as strange as Le Butcherettes is bound to draw some interesting characters. These two both made me laugh and before you ask the shirt above was not written about me. I saw Squirt Boy all weekend. He kept the crowd watered down in the heat.

Last year, the Lolla program was a book and it had info on every band. This year it is just a pamplet with the schedule and a map. Since I did not know of the change, I did not search out each band before coming today. I decided to stop by the BMI stage to check out a local band called Kids These Days since they had posted these placards all over Grant Park.
I was very impressed by this very young band for several reasons...I love seeing bands that have a racial mix, a gender mix and blend several styles of music into something new. They have a soulful bluesy sound provided by the white guitarist and the female keyboard player, the mixed race horn section provides the funk & ska sounds while the black rapper adds the hip hop sound. I was very impressed with this band even though the rapper, who is very talented, dropped a (for those that know me this might sound incredible coming from me especially since I use motherfucker as a friendly greeting) few too many f bombs in what seemed like a blantant attempt for some strangely desired street cred. Overall I'm looking for big things from this band in the future.
I posted a video from Kids These Days on July 26th. I'm adding this video here because I really loved this band and their sound.
 I needed to sit for few minutes so I sat down at the Playstation Stage (also known as the Petrillo Bandshell to Chicagoans) and watched the Mountain Goats getting ready for their set as I listened to the Kills blasting away from the Bud Light Main Stage. I've been a long time fan of the Kills but have never heard of the Mountain Goats.
After my rest stop, I bebopped my way over to the Google+ stage to check out the Cults. Another wise decision. They played dreamy melodic synth pop/rock but the something extra was the lead singer. She has this great 1960's girl group voice that added an amazing sound to the music. For some reason their set was cut short...too bad. Check them out below.

After grabbing a beef brisket burrito for dinner I headed back to see the Mountain Goats.
The lead singer had a different sounding voice but it worked well with his phrasing of the lyrics, which I loved. Clever, interesting lyrics...well played songs. I liked these guys. But I love Conor Oberst so off to see Bright Eyes next.
For those my age that believe young artists don't write great political or conscientious songs anymore, I give you Conor Oberst. His set today was worth the price of admission. He is easily the best young songwriter of his generation. Add to that an amazing band and Conor's heartfelt singing that oozes with outrage when the song requires it. Easily the best band I saw today at Lolla. I love his energy and his ability to write amazing songs about love and politics. Even knowing all this before he played today...I was still blown away by his set. This is what makes Lollapalooza great. After I walked away I kept mumbling "Holy Shit, that was incredible." I love moments like this...being amazed by a performance. Once again, the kids in the crowd added to my enjoyment...singing along to every song...a joyous party that got serious at times.
 During the Bright Eyes set, a sponsor released balloons. I was amazed at the size of the crowd, you can see it filled the north end of Grant park on the screen to the right of the stage in this picture. Lolla draws some great music fans of all ages.
 Sweet Leaf was definitely popular at Lolla...but I didn't see ice tea anywhere.
 Bright Eyes rocking the stage

 For the last song Conor jumped off the stage while singing and began hugging, bouncers, cameramen and of course, the fans. It was a perfect ending to an amazing show. Here's the lyrics to "One For Me, One For You"
One for the righteous, one for the ruling class
One for the tyrant, one for the slaughtered lamb
One for the struggle, one for the lasting peace
One for you, and one for me

One for the Führer, one for his child bride
One for the wedding, one for the suicide
One for the bunker, one for the broadcast booth
One for me, now one for you
How did we get so far away from us?
How did we get so far away?

One for the people, one for the parliament
One for the weary, one for the malcontent
One for the master, one for the protégé
One for you, and one for me

One for the bread lines, one for the billionaires
One for the missing, one for the barely there
One for the certain, one for the real confused
One for me, okay, now one for you

Now that we've come so far away from us
Now that we've come too far to say
You and me, you and me that is an awful lie
You and me, you and me that is an awful lie
It's I and I
It's I and I
It's I and I
It's I and I
A sweat soaked Conor Oberst leaving the stage after an amazing performance.

I know the picture is blurry but I was running with a quickly melting Rainbow Ice Cream Cone in one hand and trying to get my camera out of my backpack with the other just so I could show you this funny fucking t-shirt. At least respect the effort I go thru to make you laugh.

I stopped to watch OK GO for the last part of their set. I do enjoy their power pop music and the crowd was jumping around to their songs. So here's a little of what I witnessed...standing by me was a family, an older mom & dad with two young kids. The dad was trying to hold up the younger one maybe 10 years old. But he couldn't hold him up for too long. Next to them was a college age couple who were dancing and singing the songs like the two young boys were. As the dad put the young boy down, the young man scooped him up onto his shoulders for the rest of the show. After each song, he would high five the kid who was loving his full view of the stage. When it was over the young boy was so excited as he thanked the young man. As they walked away, the young man's girl was laughing as she said, "Let's go to the DJ tent." Then he took out some Ecstasy and dropped one on each of their tongues. A perfect Lollapalooza moment. It brought a tear to my eye.
I stopped by Perry's DJ tent. Afrojack was DJing to a packed tent. I took this picture standing 50 feet outside of the tent. Off to check out Muse.

 I have heard the kids at Lolla rave about Muse for the past few years. I thought they were great at the Grammys last years. So I had my nephew, Kyle give me his Muse CD's so I could check them out. I have to admit I was unimpressed. Then I saw them live tonight. Absolutely incredible.
The fireworks show from Soldier Field only added to the musical fireworks that Muse were providing from the stage. I stayed for about 30 minutes then headed to catch Coldplay's set. I was so far back, Coldplay clearly had more fans than Muse. Unfortunately, I had trouble hearing the mellower songs due to the fact that people were talking all around me which brings me to my final point of this day. For the most part, the fans at Lollapalooza are truly fans of great music. If you get up front at any of the 6 stages, you will be surrounded by real fans of that band. Unfortunately, and this seems much worse this year, there are the douchebags that show up just to say they went to Lollapalooza. This type of fan is less likely to be able to handle his drug of choice (almost always beer) and will brag to his fellow douchebag friends how fucked up he got at Lolla. This story will probably end with him puking somewhere and assaulting an unwilling female. This last video goes out to these people.

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