Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Tuesday Top Ten: Lollapalooza 2015

This past weekend was the annual weekend of music, fun, and teenagers unable to handle their Molly that we call Lollapalooza.  It was my 11th edition of Lolla, and just like the last ten, it was a grand time.  I went all three days, along with a small pack of rovers, wanderers, nomads, vagabonds.  Call them what you will.

For the first time in a few years, the sun decided to exert its will on the people.  Temperatures were in the 90s most of the weekend, which meant that my water consumption would make a Californian vomit.  Literally.  At this point, their bodies can't handle as much water as I consumed.  We're talking 7-8 liters a day.  I peed a lot this weekend.

Friday, I got there right around noon.  We had a bigger group that day, as Jester and some others had one-day passes for Friday, essentially to see Paul McCartney.  I continued my drinking strategy of tons of water for most of the day, with a few beers thrown in, and then once the sun goes down, I switch to the sport bottles of white wine.  That way, I don't have to pee as often as I would with beer.

Saturday, our group had dwindled to four of us who had 3-day passes, but that didn't stop our fervor.  I got there at noon again.  At one point, I saw North America's biggest fugitive.
And then he was just gone.  Meanwhile, my buddy Daniel witnessed a teenage girl sprint about 400 yards to get a selfie with one of the guys from One Direction that happened to be roaming the grounds.  My question to him was:  how do you know what the guys from One Direction look like?  He had no acceptable answer.

A new addition to Lolla this year is what I call the Idiot Dome, next to the beer garden.  It's an approximately 15-foot tall adult-size jungle gym, with hammocks hanging from various rungs at various heights.  All in all, it's a terrible idea when you're dealing with a population of people who are mostly drinking or on drugs, trying to climb into a very unstable resting mechanism 10-15 feet above the ground.  I guess they got the message (or someone got injured) because by Sunday, they had "no climbing" signs on the Idiot Dome.  Oh, and fuck hammocks.

We decided to switch to wine a little early Saturday, in anticipation of wanting to be hitting our peak during Metallica.
Because nothing says metal like pinot grigio (and french fries).  It worked, however, and we were well-prepared for the much-anticipated sonic onslaught that rained over us.

Sunday was a little more sluggish than the previous two days.  I didn't get down there until 12:45ish.  At 2:30, the entire festival was evacuated, due to some golf ball-sized hail and 60-mph winds that appeared to be heading straight towards Grant Park.  It turned out to be much ado about nothing, as it rained for about 10 minutes, and not very hard.  We went to Hackney's in Printers Row for a beer and some food -- a nice respite from the mild rain outside.
The park opened back up at 3:30, and the bands resumed at 4.  Unlike a few years ago, when some acts had to be cut due to an evacuation, they didn't cancel any acts this time around, but rather just readjusted the schedules.  We managed to hang around most of the rest of the day, long enough to take this picture with a nice skyline shot during TV On The Radio.
Florence + The Machine were headlining Sunday night, and you could see lightning to the north.  We left a little early to beat the impending downpour, and apparently they ended up cutting Florence's set short due to the weather.  Our decision was a wise one, as the thunderstorms started not long after I got home.  Here is what my weather app was showing at that time.
Aside from the evacuation, it was another fantastic Lolla.

Here are the bands or artists for which I saw at least two songs:

Friday:  Mighty Oaks, Coasts, Kyle Thornton & The Company, Black Pistol Fire, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Cold War Kids, MS MR, Alabama Shakes, Gary Clark, Jr., Paul McCartney

Saturday:  Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Catfish & The Bottlemen, COIN, Django Django, Sturgill Simpson, Toro Y Moi, Death From Above 1979, Delta Spirit, Elle King, Tame Impala, Brand New, Metallica

Sunday:  Circa Waves, Twin Peaks, Strand of Oaks, Skylar Spence, Albert Hammond, Jr., Gogol Bordello, Bully, Of Monsters and Men, TV On The Radio, Florence + The Machine

Here are my ten favorite performances from the weekend:

Honorable mention:  Circa Waves, Death From Above 1979, Delta Spirit, Django Django, Albert Hammond, Jr., TV On The Radio

10 (tie).  Strand of Oaks
The first group to play after the evacuation was over was Strand of Oaks, from the Mennonite stronghold of Goshen, Indiana.  They rocked, and you could tell they were honestly glad to be there (and that they didn't get cut because of the weather).  This picture is the result of an attempt to take a picture looking into the sun with sunglasses on, but I promise Strand of Oaks is in there somewhere.

10 (tie).  Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes got cut back in 2012 when Lolla was evacuated, and I was pissed because I really wanted to see them.  I've seen them since then, but they always put on a good show.  I love me some soul.

9.  Elle King
In addition to a fantastic cover of The Beatles' "Oh Darling," Elle King's set was full of girl group garage gusto.

8.  Catfish & The Bottlemen
A quirky name, catchy tunes, and a sexually suggestive backdrop.  Tough to go wrong with that combination.  Seriously, though, the next time these guys come back to Lolla, I have a feeling it won't be in a 1:30 slot.

7.  Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
Detroit's Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas kicked off Saturday with a bang.  Hernandez had great stage presence, and reminded me of a more rocking Amy Winehouse -- and less of a disaster.  It's tought to categorize their sound, but I suppose it would be garage rock, with some '60s pop, rockabilly, and Latin influences.  Good stuff.

6.  Twin Peaks
Chicago's own Twin Peaks played a great, energetic set, just before the evacuation.  It was healthy combination of rock, punk, and garage rock -- three things I love.  I watched this one sitting down, since it was hot as balls, and I could actually see the show while sitting.

5.  Gogol Bordello
They call it "gypsy punk."  I call it a hell of a show.  If you see Gogol Bordello on the schedule at a festival, go see them.  You don't even need to know any of the songs to have a good time.

4.  St. Paul & The Broken Bones
If you haven't heard these guys, check them out.  It's a soul and rock experience, with a lead singer who is a close to Otis Redding as a slightly overweight white guy wearing hipster suit and glasses could possibly be.

3.  Black Pistol Fire
This Austin-based duo played a blistering set Friday afternoon.  It was balls-out rock and roll, and it was too bad it was only 40 minutes.  They started with a slide guitar instrumental that set the right tone, and then they kept up the energy with originals, mixed in with covers or parts of covers, like Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well," Howlin' Wolf's (among others) "Killing Floor," CSNY's "Ohio," and -- perhaps best of all -- Salt 'N' Pepa's "Shoop."

2.  Metallica
Saturday night's headliner didn't disappoint.  Sure, they might have some more gray hairs than the last time I saw them, but they haven't slowed down musically.  Their two-hour set was peppered with songs that you would expect, as well as some songs that they don't usually play, like their cover of Think Lizzy's "Whiskey In the Jar" and Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?"  Had there not been a Beatle, this would have been my favorite show of the weekend.  Here's a shot of the stage during the first song, and then a slightly more blurry shot of our group during a later song.

1.  Paul McCartney
He's a Beatle.  You simply can't top that.  There is nothing quite like hearing 60,000+ people singing "nah nah nah nah-nah-nah nah" during "Hey Jude."

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