Monday, August 6, 2007

Lollapalooza--Day 3

Oh man, I'm back at the office, and I strongly feel that I need a vacation from my vacation, especially because yesterday was a veritable MARATHON of rock. I'm 30 with a soul-sucking day's almost more than I can take! But over here at Places Parallel, we give our readers nothing but 100% committment, so we were in it for the long haul, from around 11:30 a.m. til 10:10 or so that night.

On Day 3 of Lollapalooza, the normally charming Grant Park was turned into a giant, muddy cesspool that smelled like the large mammal house in the zoo. Did people even bother using the port-o-lets? Any of those drunken barefoot floozies in sundresses were likely to catch dysentery or cholera in the rain-beer-vomit-soaked field in front of the Bud Light stage on the north end of the park. I mean, it was fucking nasty. I don't remember things being so unsavory in 2006, but then, it didn't rain at all that weekend. Fortunately, the strong lineup that day more than made up for the hazardous waste conditions at the park.

Iris and I arrived just in time to see Juliette and the Licks, the band fronted by charmingly psycho actress, Juliette Lewis. I was originally hesitant to catch their set, especially because it was scheduled so early on what was going to be a very long day. But I'm very glad I did. Juliette Lewis, wearing an inexplicable Indian feather and war paint under her eyes, gave the audience a lot more energy than many of the more critically acclaimed super-serious artists there. She and her band specialize in a classic bar rock style--black leather pants and high kicks and extended drum solos. Juliette's performing style is somewhere between Joan Jett and David Lee Roth. She howls and writhes on the stage, and it's just really fucking fun. She kicks sand in the face of detached hipster irony. Then she kind of shouts spoken word at it. And maybe takes off her shoes and screams. They were a really energizing way to start the day. Afterwards, Juliette and the Licks signed some albums, and our own Iris got to meet Juliette Lewis up close and personal, in all her freakish glory. I'll let Iris fill you in on how that encounter went.
Waiting to get Iris' album signed and extracting our husbands from the Playstation tent took up some time, so the next show we saw was Amy Winehouse, of whom I'm a huge fan. Back to Black is a solid, rich-sounding album--at times heartbreaking, at times mischievously witty, but infused with a grown-up sexiness. Her voice is reminiscent of '60s girl groups and Shirley Bassey, and she can make a morning commute feel pretty swank. Her "I don't give a fuck" attitude with regard to her notorious boozing and brawling makes for interesting gossip reading, but I'm thinking it's bound to be affecting her performance. On Sunday, she appeared to be half asleep. There were a couple of standout songs, such as "Me and Mr. Jones" and maybe "Tears Dry On Their Own." But she just kind of mumbled the rest of the set and displayed no passion whatsoever. She had a haunted look during "Rehab," and I just wonder if it's getting to the point where it's not fun for her any more. We pondered whether she was just overheated in the August sun, hungover or whether she hadn't eaten in three days, or a combination of all of the above. I really do admire her as an artist and would rather see her enjoying herself onstage than wasting away. Her songs are great, but it was a disappointing set.

After an air conditioning break in the AT&T Digital Oasis (still waiting for my product placement check), we went to see Iggy and the Stooges, which was absolutely the highlight of the weekend, in my opinion. Iggy was long-haired and shirtless and still feral after all of these years. Jumping around, climbing up on the amps, getting on all fours and humping the air (he could dislocate a hip at his age), Iggy and the Stooges played a blazing set that included favorites such as "1969," "I Wanna Be Your Dog" (shouldn't that be my theme song?) and "TV Eye." I was hoping to hear some "Nightclubbing" or "Lust for Life" or "The Passenger," but Iggy wasn't giving it up for Trainspotting fans. That's okay, though, because midway through his set, Iggy invited just about everyone in the near vicinity up on stage, and many many drunk fans took him up on the offer. Delightful chaos ensued. Security was overwhelmed, concert organizers had to be hyperventilating, and Iggy tried to coax people off the stage after the song saying, "Okay, everyone calm down...calm cool, everyone, or things might get weird." They had to shut things down for a few minutes until they fired up again. The spirit of punk rock was alive that hour--not the safe, corporate-sponsored, family-friendly version of punk rock, but rather "Is the stage going to collapse and are people going to riot over there?" punk rock. A must-see set.

During dinner, we got to listen to a bit of the Wailers and witnessed a hilariously thick cloud of smoke rising above the crowd. Pot was EVERYWHERE this weekend, and I'm not a big fan of the smell. I'm not a pot-smoker myself and have never even tried it, but normally I'm very "live and let live" where that's concerned. If college kids and adults want to smoke up, fine. I've spent enough time in smoke-filled dorm rooms with my friends. But I hope I don't sound like a prude when I say that things were a teensy bit out of hand. My friends said they saw people smoking pot near the kids' stage, where three-year-olds were running around. I personally witnessed some kid who absolutely could not have been older than 11 smoking up...I mean, that's just ridiculous. That kid was holding the bag for the slightly older group he was with (no older than 16). All I know is, he's got the worst older sibling on the planet. As they said on South Park, "There's a time and place for everything, and it's called college." Or at least high school? Jesus Christ, I don't think that's asking too much. Anyway, I kind of wished there was just a bit more of a police presence to discourage that kind of thing. Not to sound like some kind of fascist, but people obviously can't keep it cool on their own. I mean, the kids' stage???

Prudery over. On to Modest Mouse! Unfortunately, due to the outdoor venue, we didn't get the shipwreck stage production, but I've never heard them sound better. They played quite a bit from Good News for People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. "Float On," "Bury Me With It," "Bukowski," "Black Cadillacs," "Dashboard," "Fire It Up," "Missed the Boat" and "We Got Everything"--those were the ones I remember off the top of my head, and they all sounded great. Johnny Marr is obviously a great addition to the lineup. The only problem was that I was kind of distracted by the pot-smoking 10-year-old and his stupid drunk 15-year-old friends and some floozie in a yellow sundress who was barfing on the lawn. Ugh, I hate the youth.

I didn't get to see a lot of TV on the Radio because they were playing on the complete opposite side of the park, and they only played a 45-minute set, but I can see why Trent Reznor picked them as an opening band. I'm also not terribly familiar with them, so I can't give you song titles, but I really enjoyed their energy. I'll let Iris review them if she happened to see more of their set.

Finally...thank God, for I was so tired at this point, and now I'm tired out again just writing all this out...Pearl Jam! I really enjoyed this set a lot more than I thought I was going to. I wasn't a huge Pearl Jam fan back in the day because my feeling on Pearl Jam has always been this--I love their fast songs, but their slow songs are dirge-like and boring, and I hate them. Fortunately, this set was fast-paced and filled with everyone's greatest hits. My favorites from this set included "Worldwide Suicide," "Do the Evolution," "Alive," and "Evenflow." Eddie Vedder seemed to really enjoy himself on stage, praising other bands that played in the festival and remembering his days of riding the El in his Evanston childhood and listening to Patti Smith and Iggy Pop. There was a fun moment when he cited a group at Lollapalooza who were distributing information about BP Amoco's proposal to dispose of new waste in Lake Michigan. So Eddie wrote an amusing and catchy little ditty for us to remember not to frequent BP, entitled "Don't Go BP Amoco." Unfortunately, there was no "Jeremy" or "Black," which would be my favorite PJ songs. We were expecting those two as the final encore, but Eddie instead gave us a well-intentioned but excruciatingly boring and preachy antiwar folk song and a lively "Keep On Rocking in the Free World" to end the show. A small number of people were allowed up on stage, as a nod to Iggy Pop, but it wasn't nearly as much of a free-for-all. Oh, and bonus! We also got to watch a fireworks display! It looked like it was coming from Soldier Field, so I don't even think it was related to Lollapalooza. Anyway, it was a great way to end the fun, but exhausting, weekend.

I'm already looking forward to Lolla '08, and although it is an extremely well-run and organized festival, I do have some recommendations for the future.

1) Distribute the acts a little better. Sunday was jam-packed with excellent artists, whereas the only reason I even bothered showing up on Saturday was Interpol. There seems to be a *lot* of bland hipster filler; I could do without some of that, even if that means 90 bands performing instead of 130 or whatever.

2) I don't mean to hate on the kids, but I think more should be done to keep them from getting beer wristbands, and maybe if a kid who is obviously 12 years old does happen to get a beer wristband, maybe he/she shouldn't be served??? There's a reason why I don't want to be surrounded by drunk and high prepubescents...they are AMATEURS, and they wind up barfing on the lawn. Yuck.

3) Stock up on more nonalcoholic beverages. It's HOT and HUMID in Chicago in August, and we want to be hydrated. By the time Pearl Jam came on, the only type of beverage not sold out was beer, which sounds great, unless you're actually really thirsty and need *water*.

Any other suggestions, Ro and Iris???


Angelman said...

Yeah - that is one of the main reasons I hate going to concerts (the pot, vomiting etc.) I would say it is because I am old, but I hated that shit when I was 16 too.

Would love to see PJ some day - I can't say I am overly aware of any album but "Ten" - but damn, that is a great album. I think my woman summed up PJ's musical direction by saying "damn you, Neil Young" Things were never the same after that influence took hold.

maise said...

Angelman, I'm so with you on "Ten"...that album is just outstanding, but then they started hanging out with Neil Young, and their songs just got slower and slooower and slooooower, and I couldn't even tolerate them for a while. I've made my peace with them with "Do the Evolution" and "Worldwide Suicide," and they really put together a crowd-pleasing set that they seemed to enjoy playing as well.

Oh, and of course, Iris has lots of pics and videos of everything we've seen, but she's got a long drive home today!

Ro said...

I'm totally wishing I had the wherewithal to show up early and catch Juliette and the Licks, but alas, I was lazy and didn't make it out until Amy Winehouse. As much as I wanted to love her set, she just didn't seem at all enthused to be there, which could have been a byproduct of the heat, humidity, and general stench that poor Grant Park turned into that day. But it almost looked like she was reading her lyrics throughout as she looked down at the ground through most of her songs. And she did not look healthy at. all. Someone just needs to feed her a sandwich or something. My wrists are fatter than that poor girl's thighs!

Iggy and the Stooges were an absolute joy! It makes me a little sad that I wasn't around during Iggy's heyday. I half expected him to trash the stage at the end of his set. And I was SHOCKED to see that he's kind of ripped for an old guy. Sure, his face looks like the Crypt Keeper's, but he had abs that could rival Angelman's reported six pack. I just wish he was wearing jeans that were a little less low slung because as he jumped and writhed around on stage, I half expected his junk to fall out. I don't need to see his old balls even if he does have killer abs.

Modest Mouse was another highlight for me. I've liked their music since "The Moon & Antarctica" and have fallen in love with them even more since Johnny Marr joined the group. He alone is responsible for my favorite guitar riff EVER opneing The Smith's "How Soon Is Now?", and I think he adds a depth to the bad that wasn't there in their early works. He even played his guitar with his fucking teeth at one point! Or rather, With_Teeth. Sorry, that was bad, but I'm tired.

Considering I was never that into Pearl Jam, I enjoyed their set far more than I had ever expected. I was sad to leave a bit early and miss the end of it, but Eddie Vedder seemed happy to be there and eager to please PJ's fans. Let that be a lesson to the traitorous traitor Billy Corgan on how to keep it real with a hometown crowd.

Ah, yes, Maise, The Youth. Where to begin? The girl puking where she sat? The boy who pissed himself? The other boy who shit his pants? The boy who repeatedly offered Mr. Maise $2 for his Bud Light wristband (word of advice: you've got to do a LOT better than a deuce to get the coveted wristband)? The heroine trio, who showed us more twat than my gynie's seen? I feel like such a geezer saying this, but they must be stopped. I remember going to Lolla back in high school, and we NEVER behaved like that. I mean, at the very least, we could hold our fucking liquor and our pot! And we didn't feel the need to smoke up in front of the wee ones. WTF, people?!?! Jesus!

But I think my biggest gripe was the timing on the set list. They jam packed Sunday with a bunch of great acts but filled up Saturday with extreme mediocrity (with the exception of Interpol). I mean, Snow Patrol? Who the fuck cares about them? Well, The Youth, but as we've seen, they have no taste. Shit, I'm surprised they even knew who Pearl Jam was. It just seemed generally unbalanced.

But all in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, one that I am looking forward to again next year! I just hope that Grant Park doesn't turn into the stinking cesspool it became on Sunday because it's a really beautiful place to see a concert, especially in the evening when the Chicago skyline serves at the backdrop to some pretty fucking awesome music.

Iris said...

Ugg...5 hours later and still an hour and a half to go, kids. But I am working on content for the site on the old laptop while hubby drives. We could be home by now and in my comfy chair by now if it weren't for Mr. Iris needing to reperuse the Best Buy and EB Games for games that may have appeared in the three days since we were last here. -sigh- Boys. Hopefully I'll be able to get some stuff up tonight if I don't crash out when we finally get home.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that Maise can say...

"I personally witnessed some kid who absolutely could not have been older than 11 smoking up...I kind of wished there was just a bit more of a police presence to discourage that kind of thing. Not to sound like some kind of fascist, but people obviously can't keep it cool on their own. I mean, the kids' stage???"

...and not get called a Nazi? Hmmm? Though I agree completely.

Of all the shows that you mentioned, I wish I was there for Iggy. And now I've got "TV Eye" stuck in my head.

Angelman said...

Because Maise has her heart in the right place unlike some people we know - now, I'm not saying you, JR - that would like to declare themselves Overlord Queen of a police state where you can oly listen to Crowded House.

Angelman said...

By the way - why does this blog have the wrong time on it - California Time is the only real time.

There is California and there is New York. Everything in the middle is filler.

Gabriel said...

Stop! Filler time!

Anonymous said...

Shows what you know, Angelman. Crowded House isn't even my favorite band.

Angelman said...

I said it wasn't you... Jr, no need to get like all... sensitive.

Bridget said...

I've seen Pearl Jam several times and they're great live but I find they just don't know when to stop playing. I take it they didn't make you sit through a 3 hour set since it was a festival.

maise said...

I'm sure there was some city ordinance that made them stop at 10. Of course, they went 10 minutes later than that. It was just about a two-hour set, which didn't give them a lot of time to jam too much or really delve into their boring songs.

Oh, and by the way, Places Parallel is proudly presented in Flyover Time.

Lavender said...

Mr Lavender saw Pearl Jam a few years ago in Buffalo. There was a city ordinance which was 11 pm I believe. Eddie Vedder basically said fuck the noise ordinance, they'll pay the fine and they went on playing. Mr Lavender also said that it was an extremely long, very political (but decent) show.

maise said...

Yeah, I don't know why Eddie decided to play by the rules, but I do know that the high-priced condos in the Loop were putting a lot of pressure on the festival, so maybe he was read the riot act by concert organizers.

This is an interesting article about the VIP cabanas, some of which could cost up to $75,000 for three days. Hopefully those were the "full release" cabanas because I can't even imagine how that could possibly be worth it.