Blogging Lollapalooza, Day 2

7:15 AM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

12:15 PM: The day is crisp and cool, slightly overcast. When you think about it, perfect festival weather. No sunburns or heat exhaustion to worry about. Plus it spares tens of thousands the permanent emotional scars of having to see me with my shirt off.

The festival allows for 2 one liter bottles of water per person. This would turn out to be plenty. Had it been like it was on Friday (muggy and sticky), those two bottles would have been consumed in the first couple of hours.

Wifey and I head in and I'm wearing a backpack. Yeah, I'm the asshole with the backpack. As it turns out, I'm one of about 60,000 people with backpacks, so all is well. Included in my stash are 4 bottles of water, one red blanket, my digital camera, a festival map, extra sunscreen and an umbrella. Yeah, I'm a real rebel.

1:15 PM: Sound the trumpets, we have arrived. The bag check is half-assed to say the least. I could have easily brought in food, firearms, forties or small children. The crowd seems to be lighter than anticipated. This would not last for long. I immediately break my seal. I am pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the port-a-potties. This too would not last for long. Where is the beer stand?

1:30 PM: The first show of the day. Pete Yorn looks like he would steal your girlfriend and have no qualms about it. This is the third time I've seen him. The first was also at an outdoor fest (Taste of Chicago), the second at a small club (Double Door). I'm convinced after watching this performance that he is certainly more suited for the smaller venues. Nothing wrong with his performance, just nothing to make it stand out. He's too early in the day and the crowd is responsive to a few of his hits and that's it. He's solid if unspectacular. Like a high school lunch consisting of steak nuggets and mashed potatoes. Nothing to write home about but you're content and happy. The highlight was when he did a rocking rendition of 'Young Folks' by Peter, Bjorn and John...apparently everyone has been telling him they love that song (get it...Pete Yorn...Peter, Bjorn...?). Good stuff.


2:40 PM: We haul ass to the other side of the park to catch Silverchair on one of the main stages. We miss the first song and a half but get there in time to nab a great spot. The crowd is much larger than anticipated. I don't even know where to start. These guys were simply amazing. I wasn't even a Silverchair fan per se heading in, but had been intrigued by their new single, 'Straight Lines'. I was blown away. Even the wife, who didn't know Silverchair from silverware turned to me halfway into their set and said, "I love these guys. Daniel Johns is hot!" I really couldn't argue with either point. Who would have guessed that these grunge-era castaways (though I believe they are still huge with the Aussies) would have been such showmen? Daniel Johns has a voice that just kills and is quite the onstage comedian. Besides dedicating one of their songs to Oprah and Stedman he also came up with the line of the night, remarking between songs, "Last night I had a dream that I was vomiting dolphins." The man is also unapologetic when it comes to showing off his chest hair. Paul Stanley-esque in that respect. He also played a guitar solo with his teeth! I mean, c'mon! They played a lot of new stuff and closed out with 'Freak', which had the crowd in a tizzy. Nothing off of Frogstomp. The set list is here. I can't say enough about these guys. Buy their new album immediately. They ripped my dick off my body (I think Perry Farrell ended up with it). That's how good they were.

3:34 PM: We make our way over to one of the side stages to catch the Cold War Kids. Hmm...whomever decided to put the CWK on this dinky ass stage needs to be lashed with a bamboo shoot. They stick them on the side stage, next to the two beer tents and smack dab in the middle of the walkway. The use of the word 'clusterfuck' has never been so appropriate. Motion City Soundtrack has half the crowd but a much bigger stage at the same time. This is frustrating at best. Lots of douchebags bumping into me and spilling beer everywhere. Four songs in and we've had enough. No fault of the Cold War Kids, who sounded good enough. I just have to move before I start to get violent. The crowd is sweaty and gross. It's as humid as Paris Hilton's vagina over here. Oh well, at least I got to hear 'Hang Me Out to Dry'. As Daniel Johns said at the end of their set, 'Seacrest out'.


4:05 PM: Time to eat. Prices are curiously reasonable. We get a Italian Beef, Italian Sausage and an order of nachos and it only sets us back $14. Bottled water and soda are only $2. Nothing wrong with that. Beer is $5 for a 'small' 16 oz and $7 for a 'large' souvenir 22 oz cup. I only make the mistake of getting the souvenir cup once. See, it's a white plastic cup and when the underpaid lackey fills it up, they can't tell how full it is, which leaves you with a good 6 oz of 'head'. Whereas the small beer is in a clear plastic cup and they get rid of the head and fill it all the way up. Plus that cup is wider. Genius. I laugh at all of the suckers carrying around all their souvenir cups ('Hey look, I'm keeping all my plastic cups to show how much I've drank. Look, I have a stack of eight...I'm awesome!'). We set the blanket down on a grassy knoll in middle of Rhymefest and STS9. I'm more impressed with the quality of my Italian Beef than any of the music at that point. One guy sitting next to us pulls out of his backpack some pre-toasted frozen waffles. Really? Waffles? You're gonna bring Eggos to Lollapalooza? And I thought I was cheap.

4:30 PM: We move a little bit north and spread the blanket out and listen to The Roots. Nothing better than watching thousands of honkeys trying to dance and act cool. The Roots are cool, but we are sitting down and probably not into it as much as we would be had we stood and gotten a little bit closer. They cover everything from 'Just a Friend' to 'In a Gadda Da Vida'. Do they write their own stuff? None-the-less they are good, especially considering my general distaste for rap. But with a full band, including some guy with a giant tuba, they rise to the occasion and entertain. I have no rhythm, but damn it if I wasn't tapping my feet. The highlight included one hippy couple dancing along to the whole set. The guy was wearing a green skirt. God love em, they really liked The Roots.

5:36 PM: Here is the first tough decision of the day. Stay on one side of the park and watch Snow Patrol or head over to the other side and catch the Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Snow Patrol's first album was brilliant. Their second album mediocre at best. I'm not as well versed with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but everything I've read has lauded how great their live show is. The final decision comes down to convenience. The YYY are playing on the same side of the park as Spoon and Muse, the last two bands of the night. That will be much easier than trying to navigate through the sea of humanity after Snow Patrol's set. It's gotten extremely crowded and at this point it takes a good 20 minutes to get from one side of the park to the other. We head over to the other side, taking a minute to grab a few more beers on the way over. We see lots of people that have peaked early and are already passed out. For shame. For once in my life I'm pacing myself. I'm sticking to my two beers per hour (which equals two beers per performance) quota and it's working well.


6:30 PM: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Hmmm...interesting bordering on brilliance. Karen O is a true rock frontman (woman?) for sure. If there were a orgy involving Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Courtney Love and Shirley Manson, this is the creature that would spawn from that unholy union. Who's the father? The results of the paternity test are still pending. Highly entertaining. I told my wife, 'I feel like we're witnessing something here.' Like in 5 years, when Karen O overdoses and they become a huge cult hit, we can be like, 'Yeah, we saw them back in 07' at Lollapalooza'. Look for Christina Ricci to star in her life story. We're talking Oscar material here. You just can't argue that 'Maps' is a great song. A slow, albeit slack-jawed, clap.

7:32 PM: As Milli Vanilli once aptly put it, "Blame it on the rain." We walk over to the adjoining stage to catch Spoon. It had drizzled on and off a bit throughout the day but this was the first time that we actually had to break out the umbrella. We were able to nab a good spot right on the side of the stage. Unfortunately this didn't seem to matter. Spoon is one of those groups who I've always enjoyed at arms length but have never really been able to get into. I was hoping for this to be the tipping point. Twas not to be. It seems that things tipped the wrong way. Spoon's set just seemed a bit uninspired and well, boring. They broke the cardinal rule of these festivals, which is 'bring the rock and leave the wimpy stuff at home'. (Daniel Johns of Silverchair acknowledged this rule nicely, at one point commenting, 'Only one more slow one, I promise.') Their songs just didn't connect and I think they left their stage presence back in Austin. Not totally mind numbing, but by far the least entertaining performance of the night. 'I Turn My Camera' on had asses shaking, but by that time there weren't many asses to shake, as most of the crowd seemed to start to leave en masse halfway through to stake out a spot for Muse. Unfortunate. File that one under 'Sounds better on CD.'

8:30 PM: While you can accuse Muse of taking themselves much too seriously, you certainly can't accuse them of not knowing how to rock out with their proverbial cocks out. An ambiguously gay Perry Farrell introduces them and they open with one of my personal favorites, 'Take a Bow'. They put on an energetic and impressive set complete with a spectacular light show, though it does lag a bit in the middle. The one qualm I have with the Muse live show is the same one that I had the first time I saw them, opening up for the Chili Peppers over seven years ago. They need to turn up the mix on their microphones. The wall of sound emanating from their instruments often times overshadows Matthew Bellamy's vocals, and dammit the man can sing, let his voice be heard! Despite that, their show was a visual treat and their songs were solid and often times epic. Speaking of epic, they closed the show with 'Knights of Cydonia', the perfect ending to a extraordinary day. I leave with a good buzz and a better lease on life.

Well played Perry Farrell you jumpsuit-clad sassy bitch. Well played.

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