Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Lollapalooza: Day Three

Ugh. So tired. I'm not even sure I have the energy to make it here. After taking a trip with my backpack down Michigan Ave. only to find the Virgin Megastore had obviously been shut down, I lurched into Lollapalooza, shuffling my way to the Cribs. Oh, my British devotion has got a work out today, doesn't it? Cribs and Amy Winehouse? Not particular favorites of mine, but still interesting enough.

Still, the poor bastards have to stand on stage and perform for a 12:15 crowd in this blistering heat? Yesterday had been nice because of the light rain and cloudy skies, but mother nature turned up the thermostat today. They took the stage and blew through their newer material off of Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever before dipping into second album fare with "Mirror Kisses" and "Martel." They were a bit too energetic for this early in the morning, and the sound was just so distorted, I can't imagine anyone past the sound tent heard one song properly. Ross Jarman made some ridiculous comment that he had lived in Chicago on Kedzie Ave, but that was the extent of their interaction with the audience. they played "Hey Scenesters!" but by now, the song seems a bit of self parody. I left to rest up and find my friends.

After finding Mary, we went to see Amy Winehouse. Was she drunk? Was she sloshed? Would she be a total shit show for the audience? Not quite. It was more the disappointing drunk who just gets lethargic and forgets where they are. Her voice didn't suffer at all and she put on decent versions of her songs...that is, when she actually played her own material. In the midst of her set, she decided to play two Specials covers (Hey Little Rich Girl and "You're Wondering Now") and a Sam Cooke cover "Cupid" before going into her own material for three songs and finishing off with a Zutons cover "Valerie." Very bizarre. Apparenlty, this is normal fare for Amy, but come on. You've got two albums, although the American public doesn't know that. Play something off of Frank? Why not? I didn't look like the rest of the crowd knew any of the stuff off this album other than "Back to Black" and "Rehab," what's more unknown material?

By that point, Mary and I were dying with those backpacks on. We crawled over to the Annuals and took a nap during their set. Again, I was surprised how many people were packed into the citi stage for a band I thought few people had heard of. They sounded good, but then again, the fact that I was able to sleep to their brand of odd indie rock (odd meaning they had samples of forest noises in between most of their songs) probably isn't a great endorsement. Listen to "Be He Me" and you'll get a pretty good understanding. It's a good album.

Well, Mary stayed behind to see Peter Bjorn and John, a band I didn't have any interest in seeing. So I camped out in front of the AT&T stage to hear cross-field samples of Kings of Leon (yes, I missed Iggy Pop...don't give me that look.) and wait for !!! (Chik Chik Chik.)

Somehow, !!! made it into my top three for the weekend. With a new album of stellar funk songs that are finally good enough to classify as songs rather than 9 minutes freak outs, I was expecting a good show. I didn't get a good show. I got an amazing spectacle of dance, funk showmanship and spectacle. A funkified freakshow, really. Nic Offer took the stage after a little drum solo and started to shake his ass in tight shorts and polo. Sure, his moves aren't that great, but they are hilarious. They started with Myth Takes, went through "All my heroes are weirdos" and Nic Offer completely floored the audience with a blistering rendition of "Pardon My Freedom," which includes a line I always laugh at. The audience seemed agape when they heard it: "You can tell the president to suck my fucking dick/does that sound intelligent or like I'm throwing a fucking fit?" before going into the equally amusing chorus "Like I give fuck, Like I give a shit about that fuck, Like I give a fuck about that motherfucking shit." Nic Offer than proceeded to jump off the stage, throw every bottle of water he could grab into the audience and then jump onto one of the side platforms near the myspace tent where he swiveled like a caged go-go dancer.

After finishing that, Offer invited Shannon Funchess onto stage to help with vocals on "Yadnus" and "Dear Can" among others. If Nic Offer seemed wild, then Funchess was absolutely out of control. At one point, her soulful vocals crescendo into a scream. How to heighten this scream? Ah yes, deep throat the microphone hands free and flail about like an airplane about to crash into a building. Offer was still dancing up a storm and decided to appropriately flash his ass at the Lolla camera crew during a Funchess supported version of "Must Be the Moon." Eventually, after chugging a Budweiser and dumping the rest over her head and ripping off her shirt, Funchess did some salacious dance moves with a woman dressed in a Raccoon suit and left the stage. Offer had a few words for the audience before he finished the set with his insistent screaming vocals on "Intensify":

So, real nice fucking job to whoever put us up against Yo La Tengo. Always wanted to see them. Oh Well. (throws full water bottle into audience) But you know, I was at the first Lollapalooza and I can only say, I hope we can be to you what Nine Inch Nails was to me, because they fucking rocked.

What could top a performance like that? Nothing, really. I ran over to the now soggy, muddy and musty Bud Light stage where Modest Mouse were performing, but left after three songs. Why? ask the sound guys. It astounds me how a band like Modest Mouse can play a semi-headlining slot on the last day and still sound so distant or muddled from just behind the sound tent. Plus, they didn't seem all that into it to be honest.

My Morning Jacket, on the other hand, did. They were dressed in full waiter attire, while supported by the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. I was pretty burnt out by this point, but they did put on a good show, even it did cut into TV On the Radio, a bit.

Unfortunately, for me, I was not able to see them or Pearl Jam, as Van Galder waits for no one.

So, to cap off the review, some tips for next year:

1. Please, color wrist bands by day or don't give them out at all. I could have easily slipped off my wrist band and handed it to anyone else, but I didn't need to, because one-day ticket holders who made it into the arms of a wristband holder who doesn't care who gets the goods just go a 110 dollar upgrade. Merry Christmas, kids.
2. Fix your goddamn sound. I heard more screeches and whines from the amps this year than the previous two combined. Sure, there were no Kanye style mic problems, but if I were Maya of MIA, I would be pissed.
3. No more head to head matches. As one man said to me during the Black Keys, "Can't the just take the real big headliners and put them up against no-namers?" Certainly !!! didn't sound too happy about the current situation and considering the large amount of fans in transit between Muse and Interpol, neither did they.
4. Lose the minefield stage. Ok, the Green Street part of the festival was a nice touch, but that "fun" stage of yours is just an annoyance. Either make it a pure DJ stage or just total the whole thing.
5. Get rid of that FYE signing tent. Your CD's are overpriced and you couldn't even stock Daft Punk properly. Virgin knew how to run the show and they kept things relatively cheap. Also, that Merch tent near the center of the festival needs some lines. Instead it felt like a flea market. That's fine, as long as there aren't 100,000 people at the flea market.
6. Nice job on the indie acts, but could we have a little more Hip-hop? Roots and MIA were nice, but Lupe Fiasco sounded like kind of a bust. Perhaps you should have one stage dedicated to hip-hop as well?
7. New Rule: Perry Ferrel isn't aloud to talk. If you think the Pitchfork MC is dorky, take a look at "PerFer." The man nearly got his mic cutoff when introducing Muse. Need I say more?

and lastly,

8. Next year's headliner: Radiohead. Come on. You know you have to.

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