Lollapalooza 2010 recap: Saturday night’s all right for rocking

The thing about Lolla is that it gets exponentially harder from day to day. Even with a good night’s sleep, today was, well, fucking impossible. The fact that the lineup was reeeeeeeeeally sparse compared to Friday’s lineup did not help. Damn it, why aren’t the Scissor Sisters here?

Before we hit the grounds, we hit one of our favorite Chicago restaurants: Heaven on Seven. Try the gumbo. The andouille sausage po’ boys are pretty damn good, too.

As we’re entering the grounds, there were some people who were interested in opening a friendly dialogue about religious philosophy and moral ambiguity in modern society. That, or they wanted to stone people to death on the spot, one of the two.

hell

Skybox, BMI stage
These kids are so cute I just want to pinch their little cheeks. They’re a bubblegum pop band from Chicago (think ’60s bubblegum, not the Jonas Brothers), and I love that they play the music they play; I just wished the songwriting was a touch stronger. But they’re young – they can grow into their songwriting shoes. That they’re starting out playing this kind of music, to me, is a sign of good things to come.

The Soft Pack, Budweiser stage
It’s harder and harder for guitar bands to stand apart these days, and these guys are unfortunately victim to that. There were some good tunes in their set, mind you, but they haven’t yet figured out how to separate themselves from the pack. I’m looking forward to the day when they find a way to do that.

Stars, Budweiser stage
There’s a joke here somewhere about how every Canadian musician under the age of 40 is in Broken Social Scene, but it’s just not coming to me at the moment. Everyone in Stars is also in BSS, and their new record The Five Ghosts is a pleasantly airy collection of mid-tempo, mildly electronic music, and surprise! So was their set at Lolla. That didn’t stop a bunch of people from dancing to them, though, and even I was bobbing my head to “We Don’t Want Your Body,” which is just begging to be released as a single.

Dan Black, BMI stage
For three guys with a couple guitars and a bank of machines, Dan Black made sure his show was as human as it could possibly be. And as luck would have it, I showed up one song before he played the “Umbrella”-sampling “Symphonies.” Can’t beat that with a stick.

Lunch break. Grabbed some fish tacos, sat next to a nice couple from New Orleans, who gave us a portable cell phone charger. Which came in handy…when the batteries in my camera died. Hey, I can recharge my phone at the hotel.

Listened to a little of the Royal Bangs after scouting their MySpace page. Not pleased. Moved on.

Metric, Playstation stage
I feel bad for the bands that play the Playstation stage, or the Petrillo band shell as it’s called every other day of the year. They get fabulous acoustics, but they’re on a downward slope, so anyone outside the cement pavillion will be all but unable to see them without peeking at the Jumbotron. Which sucks, because there are few things on this earth I love more than watching Emily Haines dance. I mean damn, is she the cutest thing on the planet or what? Look at the video for “Stadium Love” (easily the highlight of the set). Swoon. That girl owns me.

This pair of shoes and socks stood in front of me. Had to document it. You know, for when alien civilizations come to study us centuries from now.

shoes

Time to head down south and get a spot for Green Day, since they will surely draw another Gaga-esque crowd. But first, food. Chicken on a stick, with lo mein noodles. Yum.

Social Distortion, Parkways stage
Is there such thing as a bad set from these guys? And by that I mean, the margin of error on their sets is pretty damn small, isn’t it? Can one of their sets really be significantly better than another? What I’m saying is, it’s Social Distortion: you know exactly what to expect.

Slightly Stoopid, adidas stage
I’m not a fan of this band, but I felt bad for them. As my friend Tim and I found a spot to sit before Green Day’s set – and was shocked to see that there were a good five times as many people on the Grant Park softball fields for Lady Gaga this time last night as there were for Green Day – Slightly Stoopid had 15 minutes left to play when Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” started playing through Green Day’s speakers. Not at an obnoxious volume, but still loud enough that the band could hear it between songs. Then someone in a rabbit costume (I’m guessing it was Tre Cool) came out on stage acting drunk and silly. If I’m Slightly Stoopid, I’m pissed. That was bad form. If I’m Green Day, I expect to find my tour bus covered in feces, inside and out.

Green Day, Parkways stage
Say this for Green Day’s set: they put on one hell of a rock show. Not exactly a punk show, but a rock show (complete with classic rock medley including Sabbath, Van Halen, Guns ‘n Roses, and AC/DC), and aside from hustling the crowd in to waaaaaaaay too many sing-a-longs, thus stretching songs out a good two to three minutes longer than they needed to, they definitely brought the goods. American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown bookended the set, with pretty much every early-period Green Day song you can imagine in between (they even played “2,000 Light Years Away”), and they even deliberately went long by 15 minutes to make sure the crowd got their “Jesus of Suburbia.” Everyone who wasn’t wearing ear plugs for this show is surely regretting it thought, as the show was littered with fireworks. Loud, loud fireworks.

I texted someone I met over the fish tacos about how Phoenix was on the north side. “They owned,” he said, while Bullz-Eye’s James Eldred, on assignment with another publication since we only got one media pass this year (the economy, we guess), said Empire of the Sun’s set at Perry’s was awesome.

The crowd emptying out of Grant Park was so big that we didn’t even bother trying to get on the train and walked back to our hotel. Add another two miles to the day’s travels. Ow.

  

Lollapalooza 2010 recap: Friday

The Lolla grounds grew again, stretching the grounds out wider so that there is no chance of one stage bleeding into another. Which is awesome, if you’re a band, but bank on walking an extra mile and a half over the course of the day.

Foxy Shazam, Sony Bloggie Stage
Got there late thanks to the relocation of the media area (Roosevelt, really?), but their final song was a beast. Lead singer Eric Sean Nally leapfrogged onto the guitarist’s shoulders, then kicked his guitar as he was trying to solo. The keyboardist stood on top of his keyboard, stomping on the keys. It was bedlam. It was awesome. Definitely see these guys if they come near you.

First cover song of the day: B.o.B., covering MGMT’s “Kids.”

Ancient Astronauts, Perry’s
These guys got stuck in a reggae groove and couldn’t get out, but there was a neat mash-up of “Blitzkrieg Bop” thrown in, which was cool.

Playstation edit

“That’s right, I paid $200 to spend the weekend inside on a Playstation. So?”

Raphael Saadiq, Parkways Soundstage
I’m still not sure how he wound up on the bill but I’m not complaining, as his album The Way I See It was one of my favorite albums of 2008. His set was refreshing, the band decked out in suits while Saadiq dished out his vintage Motown jams. Then right in the middle, he completely threw down this gargantuan guitar track. Very odd, but the kids loved it.

The Big Pink, adidas Stage
So…much…droning…must…play…this…one…note…forever…

On the plus side, they ended their set 15 minutes early. Whew.

Devo, Parkways Soundstage
Hats off to the boys from Akron, as their afternoon set killed. They mixed in a few songs from their (damn good) new album Something for Everybody, played “Whip It” surprisingly early in the set, then went on a fans-only trip from there that had this old-school Devo fan flipping out. “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA”? Hell, yes.

F**k Buttons, Sony Bloggie Stage
Went to catch up with my buddy Tim at this set, but he was already bored and moving on before I got there.

Second cover song of the day: Matt & Kim doing Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.”

Kim of Matt & Kim also had the quote of the day, when she talked of wanting the people working the Jumbotron to do a close-up of her tits.

Neon Trees, BMI stage
These guys sounded pretty good, and the singer said he saw some kids sneak over the fence. It was amazing to watch everyone bail on their set after they played “Animal,” though. Same thing happened during Devo’s set after “Whip It.”

Hot Chip, Parkways Soundstage
There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with Hoy Chip’s set, but I had been on my feet for six hours at that point, and I needed to rest. Went to lie down on the hillside, and fell asleep. Damn, that felt good.

Meanwhile, the crowd gathering for Lady Gaga is without question the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen, at Lolla or anywhere else. all of Grant Park is a sea of bodies. And there’s still one more band to go before she takes the stage.

Ass Pear edit

Lady Gaga wannabe ass pear.

Chromeo, adidas Stage
These band of funk poppers are about to jump to the next level. The new material was good, and they know how to entertain a crowd. They even fooled around with Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing,” with one of them singing in Auto-Tune, “I want my Chromeo.” Nice

Lady Gaga, Parkways Soundstage
Say this for the girl – she puts on an elaborate show. There was a car on the stage with a keyboard built into it, and one of her backing singers looked like Grace Jones. The problem is that there were a lot of young kids there to see her, and Ms. Gaga spent a bunch of the time swearing like a sailor. It grew tiresome. And at any rate, there was someone else we wanted to check out.

2ManyDJs, Perry’s
The brothers in Soulwax – speaking of which, any time you guys want to make another Soulwax album is all right with me – closed the DJ tent with a fun set that featured the Chemical Brothers, 808 State, Guns ‘n Roses, the KLF, Stardust (a.k.a. Daft Punk), the Clash, the Gossip and even Pink Floyd in a medley of songs about money. The graphics that they had synced up with the set were awesome too, taking the album covers of the songs they’re spinning and bringing them to life. Best of all was the shot of Nicolas Cage and what I’m pretty sure was Macaulay Culkin. Fun times.

Big, big opening day. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Saturday isn’t quite as hectic. Looking forward to seeing Green Day tear the place down. They’re booked for two hours and 15 minutes, which is the longest set we’ve seen at Lolla yet. I’m pretty sure they’ll make it count. For now, though, it’s time for bed.

  

Lollapalooza 2010 Pre-Day One: Choose your battles

One of the things about Lollapalooza’s marketing angle was that we’ve always found amusing is the idea that the consumer was getting well over 100 bands for about $200, so they’re paying about two bucks per band. The problem with that logic, of course, is that most of the time there are five bands playing at once, meaning that you couldn’t possibly see every band that you’re supposedly paying two bucks to see. And that’s all right – we get that they’re trying to provide as much entertainment for as many different musical cliques as possible, and that’s how it should be. Yes, it may create the occasional conflict – last year’s biggie for us was when they pitted the Kaiser Chiefs against the Airborne Toxic Event – but for the most part, the worst thing you’ll have to deal with is missing the beginning or end of a band’s set as you’re trekking from the northern stages to the southern stages, or vice versa.

This year, however, boasts some scheduling conflicts that frankly have us scratching our heads. Why, for example, book Mavis Staples and Raphael Saadiq, presumably here to add some color to a largely lily-white music festival, and then have them play at the same time? Odds are, anyone who’s interested in seeing one of those two would like to see the other; why make that impossible? If crowd control is the issue, it couldn’t have been too much trouble to have them play one after the other on opposite ends of Grant Park, would it? Or even better, have them play back to back on the north side or south side. We know that they all have other touring commitments that complicate things, but really, we see no reason why Saadiq and Staples couldn’t play against artists that, you know, they have nothing in common with.

But alas, there are a lot of bands that we’d love to see this year but can’t, due to some conflict or other. In order to see Devo, Green Day, 2Many DJs and Wolfmother, we’ll have to miss the New Pornographers, Cut Copy, Phoenix, the Strokes, and MGMT. On a heavily front-loaded lineup (Friday is easily the most star-studded lineup this year), missing out on five bands is big. We suspect that we’ll be killing much time at the DJ tent this year, and that’s all right: we had a great time there last year (thanks to our friend Leyla at Sunday Morning Soliloquy for showing us the light), and with the inclusion of Ancient Astronauts and 2ManyDJs, a.k.a. Soulwax (they’re huge in Belgium, because they were born and raised there), Perry Farrell clearly understands the importance of taking the DJ tent seriously. We still haven’t forgiven Beastie Boys DJ Mixmaster Mike, though, for making us late for the Go! Team in 2006 when he blew off his appearance at a Hard Rock function. No one’s late at Lolla, period. Well, except Amy Winehouse, and you all saw what happened after that. (much drinking and drugs…)

Still, scheduling conflicts aside, we’re looking forward to a fun – and if the current forecast is to be believed, not terribly hot – weekend of music, and though we’re missing the New Pornographers, we’re interviewing one of them next week. Wonder how she’ll react when we tell her we decided to see Devo instead…

Along with a giant, comprehensive recap of the festival highlights, there will be nightly recaps of each day’s events, so make sure to check back here each day to find out what went down.

  

Was Lollapalooza ’09 the best one yet?

This year’s Lollapalooza is officially on the books, and whether or not you were there to catch all the highs and lows of the ’09 edition of the long-running festival in person, now it’s time for a recap. Bullz-Eye’s David Medsker and James Eldred were ‘paloozing with the best of them this year, and they’ve thoughtfully prepared a day-by-day report of what went down at Grant Park last weekend — and if that isn’t enough to sate your appetite for Lolla coverage, they also collaborated on a liveblog of the event.

It’s all up at Bullz-Eye now, so to read about the “epic” lineup and “biblical” weather, just click on the image above or follow this link!

  

Lolla, Lolla, Lolla, get your tickets here

If you’ve been putting off plunking down the coin for a weekend pass to this year’s Lollapalooza festival – and at $205 a pop, we can’t say we blame you – you’re in luck. Bullz-Eye, in conjunction with Island Records, is giving away a prize pack that includes two weekend passes to Lollapalooza, a $100 gas card, an Island Records Zippo lighter, a USB charger, and a download card for the 50 most popular Island Records songs of the past 50 years. We don’t know what songs will be included, but you can bet that Bob Marley, U2 and the Killers will be in there somewhere.

To enter the contest, click here. The contest ends July 31. Good luck, and if you win, do yourself a favor and don’t miss the Kaiser Chiefs on Sunday. Their live set kills.

  

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