Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lolla-ing, Reflecting

It's always hard to encompass a whole weekend as long as Lollapalooza into a single post, it's hard to even quickly recall everything that happened. Thursday night feels like forever ago. I have developed a quick answer to 'what were your favorite performances that you saw,' and honestly most of them weren't even at the actual fest. My absolute fave was Nine Inch Nails on Friday. I've heard a lot of people didn't think it was very good, and I know exactly why. They didn't have the side screens on, so you couldn't see shit if you weren't up close, and the shadow screen stage show wasn't much to look at, but we moved over to the far right of the stage where we could see the stage perfectly, and it wasn't at all crowded. Reznor showed off his guns in a sleeveless shirt and they played a ton of old stuff from the Downward Spiral years, so those of us of a certain age were happy as pigs in, well, you know.

That same night we went to see The Thermals in Logan Square. They weren't even on the Lolla roster this year, but they did a free show at Ultra Lounge that was one of my top shows. I was dragging by midnight when they went on, but seeing them in that tiny club amped me up and reminded me that this is why we cover music, not free parties with plastic girls who are way to pretty-fied to have even seen a band anywhere all day (well, not playing on a stage anyway). I even got a high-5 from the drummer after the show!

The next night we braved the crowds at the Hard Rock for the #ASOSRocks party to see the special guest that they hinted on facebook on Thursday, Salt-N-Pepa, and it was rad. The bf had me pushed close to the front of the room thanks to an open side door, and they bantered and played all the hits for all the ladies. A big fuck you though to the obnoxiously tall basketball players that wormed their way to the front towards the end though. I don't care how famous of an athlete you are, you stand in front of the ladies at a Salt-N-Pepa show, you ain't nothin but a jerk. Read up on how not to be a jerk at a concert.

And finally, as my two legs could barely hold me anymore, we made our way to the Metro for the final Postal Service show. I'm realizing now that not everyone knows the whole story behind this band. Basically Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) and Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) sent tracks back and forth via the mail (hence the name) and they ended up with this really well received album, oh and Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley) did some of the vocals. That was ten years ago. I forgot how well I knew those songs, singing along, right along with the whole rest of the venue. Ben Gibbard wasn't quite as nerdy as I thought he would be, even with those dance moves, and Jenny Lewis is my hero, my spirit animal, my whatever. I want to be her. She had kitten heel saddle shoes on, played the drums, and played the guitar with her face. We got a little clip of the last song they'll ever play together for Chicagoist, a little ditty that might sound familiar...

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Call me a snob for saying that most of my favorite shows were at small after parties, but there's something special about experiencing a band in a small room. Festivals are great for what they are, a shared experience with tens of thousands of other people who can say they were there when it happened, man, and that experience goes far beyond music. Bottom line I guess is that we all deserve to just lose it for a couple of days, forget all those daily responsibilities of school or work. But, as Lollapalooza gets closer to celebrating a decade in Chicago, it's changed, and it changes more every year. It shifts, it morphs, it gets bigger and bigger and the attendees get younger and younger as the fest becomes more accepted in the mainstream (that's the only reason I can think of why these teen's parents would let them go), and I keep getting older and older. The experience has changed for me, too as I've gotten more involved. In 2005 I was camped on a blanket with my friends all day balancing out our drug/alcohol intake. Now I'm moving around so much I barely get to sit down unless I take a quick break in the media area. Sometimes drinks are free, especially at parties, but I barely drink anything in order to keep my shit together. Also, I get invited to parties now, and I have friends that take me as their guest to other parties. I get to meet cool people, have celebrity sightings, but I also want to be a reliable writer so I try to balance fun with responsibility. There is a lot more stuff happening outside the festival than ever before--day-parties, after-parties, official and unofficial after-shows, some of them exclusive and some of them not. One could still have a Lollapalooza experience and never even step foot inside the festival grounds, whether you're some level of VIP or not.

Oh, and those small venue shows?? They're happening all around the city all the time. The names might not be as big as The Postal Service or the Foo Fighters, but I guarantee that you can have just as good of a time, maybe even better times. And then when that tiny little band you saw at the Empty Bottle headlines a festival in five or even ten or twenty years, you can say that you were there when it really happened, man.

1 comment:

Tankboy said...

You capture a lot of what I was struggling to say PERFECTLY.