Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 2, 2015 Sunday At Lollapalooza...Sunshine,Music,Clouds,Food,Evacuation and Gogol Bordello

I must really love music because I am once again in Grant Park after very little sleep and by myself because for the second time in two years....Patty is on the PUP list...Physically Unable to Party.

The first band I see is Circa Waves. A four piece rock band from Liverpool...Hmmmm, now that seems familiar for some reason. These guys are a great way to start my day. They sound like the British Beach Boys if the Beach Boys formed in 2010. 

The great thing about festivals is...if you don't like the music there is always the scenery...I have a thing for women with tattoos. 

Gotta admit I usually don't like bands that sound like this...that guitar and spacey synth sound...but I enjoyed Night Terrors of 1927. I think they leaned more towards pop than electronica. So that might be why I enjoyed their set.

Plus they have a great name for a band.

I always meet interesting people at music festivals. It was a hot day for full body animal costumes...much respect.

I really wanted to love Shakey Graves. But something was missing for me during his set. There was plenty of amazing guitar but I think I wanted more of the actual songs. That said I bet I would love seeing him in a small dark club instead of a sunny park.

I caught a few songs by DMA's. I liked them. Interesting songs and they sounded really good. I was still listening as I walked over to the Farmer's Market area for some Brazilian Fried Cheese on a stick. 
Original Queijo de Coalho With Drizzled Black Rum Maple Syrup 

It was about then that I began to hear people talking about a storm and evacuating the park.

I guess this is becoming a yearly tradition at Lolla. The only problem was...

...the storm never actually materialized... looked bad for a few minutes...

....and it rained but nothing too heavy...

...I took the rare opportunity of standing in the middle of a closed Michigan Avenue to take a picture...

...and I donated to some local musicians playing on the street. By the time I walked back to my car, I heard on the radio they were already opening Lolla back up. This was a bit of a joke. I understand being safe but how did they decide to evacuate 100,000 people for a 20 minute summer rain that barely wet the streets. At least they did the right thing and everybody walked back in without getting searched so it went smoothly and quickly.

I was on my way to see Twenty One Pilots when I saw several members of Gogol Bordello walking in front of me with their instruments. They were scheduled to play inside the Toyota Tent. I checked out Verite at the BMI stage.

This isn't my favorite type of music so I will let you decide if you enjoy her music. Gogol Bordello is exactly my kind of music so I went to the Toyota Tent.

I caught the end of the Wombats acoustic set while waiting for Gogol Bordello. I was glad to see them since I missed them earlier today.

Gogol played a short three song acoustic set. This was unexpected and I loved it.

I passed by them again on my way to grab dinner.
I had to eat then grab a spot up front for their rescheduled set at 6:30pm.

But I decided to check out The Lonely Biscuits after hearing them as I walked by. I was impressed by their songs. They created a cool vibe that spread from the stage through the crowd. I was very glad that I stopped to see these guys.

Here I am seeing Gogol Bordello for the third time in just over 18 hours...and like the kids all around me,  I am excited to be here. 

This is one of the best bands to see live...there show is a party every time...

...this crowd surfing monkey passed over me several times...

...there is much more I can say about this band of brothers from all parts of the's folk music, it's punk, it's world music, it's protest music, it's dance music, it's rock and roll, it's high energy, it's a's a fucking great time.

Like the band, I gave all I had during their set. The kids near me danced more, jumped higher and moshed harder than me...but I had just as much fun.

As the last note faded, so did I. The music kept me going but once it was over, I was done.
I was happy to see the Irish flag in the crowd.

I left Lolla with this same smile on my face.

I did catch a song or two from Wild Belle on the way out. They sounded good. As a music geek, I love these festivals. There is so much good music out there. Please get off your couch and support these musicians by seeing them perform their songs. You might become a fan, but you should definitely get out and have a good time.

Here's a few shots on my way out.

Lolla didn't have a strong headliner list this least not for me. But if I had anything left in the tank, I would have stayed to see Albert Hammond Jr., Of Monsters And Men and TV On The Radio. But I would have left before the headliners Bassnectar or Florence + The Machine played. Another storm, this time a real storm, did cause Lolla to end earlier than rescheduled and the headliner sets were cut short. I feel bad for the kids that waited all day to see their favorite bands. But hopefully after today they have a few new favorite bands.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

August 1, 2015 Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Lyle Lovett at The Chicago Theater & Gogol Bordello at Thalia Hall

I didn't make it to Lolla yesterday because I had to DJ a wedding. Since I missed Paul McCartney last night, I did play "Maybe I'm Amazed" at the same time he was on stage at Lolla.

So I have my wristband and I am finally going to find out if my plan of seeing three different shows over 14 hours today was just a dream or can this old man still rock out like a kid. The plan is to go to Lollapalooza from noon to 6pm, then see Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at the Chicago Theater and end up at Thalia Hall to see Gogol Bordello at midnight. Right now I am waiting for Patty to pick me up for Lolla....and worrying if I will make it through the day.

We made it to Grant Park in time to see Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas. I had high hopes for this band after checking out their videos on You Tube. They weren't bad...but they didn't impress me either. 

Squirt Boy was keeping everyone cool with his water tank.

My two favorites were "Sorry I Stole Your Man" and their cover of  Le Tigre's "Deceptacon".

Definitely the coolest band banner of the day belonged to Catfish & The Bottlemen.

I love their version of punk / rock and roll. Really good songs and entertaining stage presence.

It took me a few tries to get a decent shot of this tattoo parlor's t-shirt in the crowd...I liked the line "Fresh Tattoos Made From Scratch Daily"

Great background for this festival.

The obligatory Buckingham Fountain shot. We grabbed lunch at Phil Stefani's craft beer area and watched HolyChild on a big screen from the Bud Light stage. They were pretty good...high music with a pop and punk twist.

On the way to see The Givers (pictured above), we caught Hippo Campus for a few minutes. Neither band caught my attention enough to keep listening to them. I wanted to like both bands but the music wasn't moving me. Again not bad but not making me feel like I was witnessing something special. I recently read that a majority of Lolla bands are never heard from after their appearance at this festival. At first I thought that was just the nature of young people nowadays...they only know the hit as soon as the band plays it...most people move on to another stage....maybe if I was born 30 years later I wouldn't be the music fan that I am now...who knows? But I do see some kids singing every song so it gives me hope that they will still be attending music festivals when they are my age...and wonder what is wrong with the kids too. 

I love this song by The Givers...but they didn't sound like this at Lolla today.

This is Hippo Campus' hit song. They have a little Vampire Weekend in their sound...which is a good thing to me.

Patty noticed this Lithuanian flag flying during Charli XCX's set. I took the picture for my gypsy wife who has family from most of the eastern European countries. As for Charli's music, I really enjoyed her high energy set filled with pop and dance songs.

It was a perfect day for an outdoor party today.
We watched the whole set by Death From Above 1979. It isn't the kind of music I usually listen to but it grew on me with each song they played. The political songs only increased my interest in this band. By the end, I was a fan. Now that is more like it...exactly why I love music festivals.

On the way out we caught a few songs by Walk The Moon. Here's my favorite by them...the Summer of 2015 Pop hit...
We did some shopping at the artist booths too. I bought Nola a new dog collar from the stylish Souldier booth. I own several of their camera straps and dog collars so I wanted to give them a shout out. For all you musicians they made custom guitar straps too.

So I have made it through 6 hours at Lolla...and I feel pretty good. Now I am off to my good friend Debbie's for a quick clean up and wardrobe change.

I saw this giant picture hanging on a building over a parking lot...I have no idea what it means...but I like it.

I love this one...same parking lot.

Now for a brief story. Everybody has people they call see them, say hello, move on. Then there are those select few people you describe as friends but deep down they mean so much more than that to you....That is my long time friend Debbie. We've known each other since 8th grade...we know all the good and bad things that have happened in each others lives...whenever we say hello...that conversation can last for hours and feel like 20 minutes. Tonight not only did Debbie let me clean up at her place...she had towels with hotel soap & shampoo out for me, she also had dinner out for me too...a cheese and sausage plate, fresh fruit and pork tacos. This was after I told her I would eat at Lolla but on the way out the lines for food were too she put this together in 20 minutes. I tried to convince her to use our extra Gogol Bordello ticket but she declined. So I am thanking her once again...not just for tonight...but for nearly a lifetime of friendship.
This one is for you Deb.

So Christy picked me up at Deb's after she worked all day and we headed to the Chicago Theater to see Lyle Lovett & His Large Band.
We see Lyle Lovett play at least once a year lately but it has been well over 10 years since we have seen Lyle play live with his Large Band. 

Here is Francine & Lyle in 1989 both with more hair

We had great seats not far from the stage in the beautiful Chicago Theater. The band came out and played "The Blues Walk", then singer Francine Reed entered the seating area from the lobby singing a stunning version of  "Wild Women Don't Get The Blues" as she walked down to the stage. We were ten minutes into this show before Lyle even appeared on stage and I already loved this show. So you might imagine that this review will be a positive one...that is because I believe anyone that says they love music...must see Mr. Lovett perform live in concert...solo or with his band or with John Hiatt or if at all possible with this amazing 14 piece band known as His Large Band. Lyle sang songs, told stories, told jokes, stepped aside for band members to sing their own songs or for numerous solos by extremely talented musicians. Some people would call this show a masterclass in how to put on a concert...I will use Lin Brehmer's words to introduce Lyle Lovett..."He is as gracious as he his cool". I left this show so full of energy that there was no way we were going to miss Gogol Bordello. So we took the CTA Pink Line train to 18th & Ashland and walked the 6 blocks to Thalia Hall on a beautiful night.

(this picture from Gogol Bordello's Facebook Page)

It might seem strange to some people to leave a Lyle Lovett concert and go to a Gogol Bordello concert. Chrissy & I joked that we were definitely the only people to do that tonight. But I have said for years that I love all types of music...when it is played by talented musicians. So after watching meticulous musicians perform every note perfectly, I am ready for the musical mayhem that is a Gogol show. We sang and danced along to every song as Thalia Hall's second story floor bounced up & down with the crowd.
This video isn't perfect but it perfectly shows what it was like at this Gogol Bordello show. Almost two hours of singing along, dancing, pogoing and moshing to the incredible songs and energy of this band.

 Chrissy & I are somewhere in this crowd having a great time. We left here with enough musical adrenaline to forget how old we are supposed to be. I was still singing songs as we walked back to the Pink Line. Then at 2:30am we found a hand written sign on the door to the CTA station..."Closed Until 5am". Fucked again by Chicago's horseshit public transportation. I had to chase down a cabbie that got stopped at the light at we finally got back to our car at Lake & Dearborn...then home. I was still jacked up by the incredible day of music I just experienced...didn't get to sleep until after 4am...but I felt good about not bailing on any of the shows...finally fell asleep with the music still ringing in my ears.

I saw this in an alley on 18th Street in the predominantly Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen.
  So I will let Gogol Bordello say a little something about America's immigration policies...