Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Lollapalooza 2016

I apologize for not posting much over the last week.  I've been hella busy trying to bring back slang from the early 2000s.  Also, I spent the better part of four days attending Lollapalooza here in Chicago.  This was the 25th anniversary of the first Lollapalooza, which Perry Farrell started as kind of a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction.  It's the twelfth year it has been in Chicago, since its reincarnation.  I've still only missed one since it's been in Chicago, and this year's version was expanded from three days to four, in honor of the 25th anniversary.  

When the lineup was announced, I wasn't too excited with the headliners -- Lana Del Ray, J. Cole, Radiohead, Major Lazer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Disclosure, Ellie Goulding, and LCD Soundsystem -- but there were a lot of non-headliners that I wanted to see.  All in all, it was another successful year.

It started Thursday, and i decided to take Daughter and Lollipop during the afternoon because kids under 10 get in free.  The Kidzapalooza section was fantastic, with hair dying, airbrush tattoos, painting, various instruments kids can play, and a tent where they could sing their own hip hop song.  My girls came up with a surprisingly vulgar diss track aimed some boy in their school named Ethan.  Watch your back, bro, or else you're gonna end up on the wrong end of a glitter pen.

Around 5, I dropped the girls off with Jester, and then headed back to the festival with my friends Daniel and Meredith.  It was raining a little by this point, which was a recurring issue the first couple days.

One of the nice additions this year was a commemorative Bud Light can just for the 25th anniversary.

They also added prosecco to their wine selection, which proved to be a welcome addition to my drinking regimen.  As a reminder, once the sun goes down, I switch from beer to wine, since it's more bang for the buck, and presumably I will have to pee less.  Of course, when you're downing 5-8 liters of water during the day, I don't think there's much short of spontaneous combustion that can prevent you from peeing a lot.

After the fest ended Thursday, Daniel and I went to see an official Lolla aftershow at The Metro featuring Jane's Addiction.  

They didn't go on until about 12:30, so it was a late night, but a good show, despite the fact that Perry's mic wasn't turned up enough.  Seeing them in such a small venue was cool.

Friday morning came far too quickly, but I was surprisingly not in bad shape.  I fulfilled my fatherly duties Friday morning, and then Jester, in her infinite wisdom, took the kids to Indiana to visit her sister for the weekend, leaving me to my own devices.  Believe me, it's mutually beneficial, even when a headlight pops out of our car on the interstate and she has to get out in the pouring rain to kick it back in.

As I just alluded to, it rained for a good chunk of Friday afternoon, but once it stopped, the temperature was great, and good times were had by all.  Wisely, we decided not to go out after Lolla ended Friday night, and I got about 9 1/2 hours of sleep.  It was glorious.

Saturday started well, with a couple of solid bands.  As I do every year, I was wearing my "festival flip flops," a pair of Bulls flip flops I got at the United Center during Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, after I managed to bust a flip flop before the game started.  They are rubber, but pretty solid, and wearing them ensures that I don't ruin my regular flip flops with water, mud, or teen tweakers' vomit.  Why am I talking about my flip flops, you ask?  Well, Saturday, as we were walking from The Joy Formidable to get some food, a whore stepped on my left flip flop just right as she passed me in the crowd, and the strap ripped out of the sole.  How do I know she was a whore, you ask?  Because whores never apologize, and she certainly just kept on walking.  Thankfully, we were right by the medical tent, where they gave me some medical tape to patch it up.  Amazingly, it held up for the rest of the day.
After the last show Saturday, we ended up smoking cigars and drinking heavy beers on my back porch, which was a pleasant end to a day that will live in infamy.

Sunday was gorgeous, with not too many clouds, but not too hot.  Granted, it's always hot at Lolla when the sun in shining.  The lineup was great, and I had some delicious lemongrass beef noodles from Tank Noodle in the middle of the afternoon.  One thing we -- and Lolla's schedulers -- discovered on Sunday, is that you should never underestimate the drawing power of Third Eye Blind.  They played at 3:45 on a side stage that is probably the fourth biggest stage at Lolla.  It was insanely packed, and it took us way too long to navigate ourselves out from being kind of close to being able to breathe.  Unfortunately, the sound was off, so you couldn't really hear them very well, but the crowd still loved it. Here's a couple shots of the crowd, although they don't really do it justice to show how crowded it was. 

Later, as the night was winding down, I took this panoramic shot of the crowd and skyline during the last show of the night (LCD Soundsystem).

Walking out, we saw this glow stick graveyard -- a fitting end to another glowing weekend of music and fun.  

Apparently, the festival organizers are going to make it four days again next year.  Right now, that doesn't excite me, but give me another week, and I'll be on board.

All in all, according to Fitbit, I walked a total of 91,888 steps Thursday through Sunday, and it certainly feels like it.  At least I made the brilliant decision several months ago to sign up to run a 10K next Saturday.

Here are the bands over the course of the weekend for which I saw two or more songs:

Thursday:  Weathers; Hiatus Kaiyote; Bob Moses; Arkells; Melanie Martinez; Kurt Vile & The Violators; The 1975; The Arcs; The Last Shadow Puppets

Friday:  The Struts; Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls; Lettuce; Alessia Cara; Wolf Alice; Radiohead; Ghost

Saturday:  Potty Mouth; The Joy Formidable; Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats; Leon Bridges; MUTEMATH; Jane's Addiction; Red Hot Chili Peppers

Sunday:  DREAMERS; FIDLAR; Third Eye Blind; Silversun Pickups; HAIM; Bloc Party; LCD Soundsystem

Here are my top ten shows I saw over the weekend:

Honorable mention:  Melanie Martinez; Wolf Alice; The Joy Formidable; Red Hot Chili Peppers; DREAMERS; Bloc Party

10.  Leon Bridges
He would probably be higher on the list if I had seen more of his set. What I did see what basically a modern day version of Otis Redding. He has the voice, the moves, and the ability to captivate a crowd. Hopefully I'll be able to catch him next time he's in town. 

9.  Potty Mouth
This all-female group churned out a solid set of grunge-tastic, pop punk. It was the first time they had played a major festival, and you could tell they were excited and humbled to be there. My favorite part of the show was when someone in the crowd started the overhead clap, and everyone else joined in. Someone in the band excitedly remarked that it was the first time anyone had every done that at one of their shows. It's always nice to see bands who really appreciate being there. 

8.  Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
I was pumped to see these guys, and they didn't disappoint, playing their catchy blend of soul and rock. 

7.  Jane's Addiction
I actually think their set at Lolla was better than their aftershow at The Metro Thursday night. The sound was definitely better, being that I could clearly hear Perry Farrell's voice. The show was a combination of burlesque, freak show, and rock show. Tom Morello came out to accompany Dave Navarro on a rollicking version of "Mountain Song," and Jimmy Chamberlain came out to play the regular drum set on "Jane Says," while Stephen Perkins handled the steel drums. 

But the highlight (?) of the show was when two backup dancers were hoisted above the stage to swing from giant pins stuck in their upper backs. It was grotesque and intriguing all at the same time. They didn't seem to mind what I assume is excruciating pain. The second picture below gives you an idea of the skin pullage involved.

I have seen these guys a few times, and they have come a long way since they were writing their setlist on the back of a PBR case when they opened up for The Hives a few years ago. They played an energetic set of their many songs about being a slacker, doing drugs, not scoring with chicks, and skateboarding or surfing. 

I'm not sure what I was expecting from the sisters Haim, but I mistakenly throught they were more mellow. After all, the last time I saw them was in 2010 at The Troubadour, where I also saw Mischa Barton. They put on a great show, full of energy and rocking songs. The highlight for me was their cover of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U."

4. LCD Soundsystem
They headlined Sunday night. This is one of those bands that I have somehow managed to avoid over the years -- not malevolently or anything, but sometimes you just can't listen to all the music in the world, no matter how hard you try. So when I saw they were closing out Lolla, I was ambivalent, but I figured it would allow me to leave early after a long four days. Turns out, they put on a hell of a show. It was full of energy. The crowd was into it. We stayed until the end. 

3.  Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
We only caught the second half of this show, and we stayed kind of far back so that we could get some respite from the rain under some trees. Thankfully, we had a view of the big screens next to the stage to see the action. This show was all energy. I had never heard of these guys before Lolla. It was a mix of punk, Celtic punk, rock, folk, and mayhem. Turner worked the crowd like a champ, and even crowd surfed in the pouring rain. By the end of the show, we said "hell to the rain" and got closer for the last couple songs. For the record, I have never actually uttered the words "hell to the rain."

2.  The Struts
This is one of the bands I was most excited about seeing. Thanks to long lines getting in, I missed the first 15 minutes of their set, but it was still fantastic. It's pure rock and roll, built for large festivals and arenas. At one point, lead singer asked everyone to crouch down to the ground, and the thousands of spectators obliged, before all leaping up in unison as the band kicked into gear and ended the show in a fitting rock frenzy. I'm hoping they come back to Chicago soon. 

1.  Ghost
I'm not a big Radiohead fan, so I wasn't thrilled when they were announced as Friday night's headliner. But Perry must have been looking out for me because he scheduled one of my favorite new (well, relatively new) bands to play Friday night during the second half of Radiohead's set. Of course, they played on the darkest stage. Thanks to the draw of Radiohead, their weren't too many people at Ghost when they started, so I was able to get about 15 feet from the stage. As always, they killed it. I'm not sure there's currently a more entertaining band. For the rest of the weekend, I found myself thinking "I wish Ghost was playing again." Once Papa Emeritus III and the Nameless Ghouls get into your head, they don't leave. 

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