Monday, August 25, 2008

Congratulations to Hot Lixx Hulahan!!!!

The world may have been transfixed by the Olympics in Beijing this month, but in Oulu, Finland, a much more important international competition recently took place: The 2008 Air Guitar World Championships.

And who brought back the title to the good ol' US of A? Why, our very favorite Friend of a Friend, Craig "Hot Lixx Hulahan" Billmeier!

I don't know this guy, but I'm so proud! I'm sure our Dan must be ecstatic.

Let's all take a moment and celebrate Hot Lixx's triumph in pleather...the culmination of years of training, sacrifice, pain, and suffering (those windmills come with a price, my friend).

Hot Lixx Hulahan...a true American hero with a rocking haircut.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

RIP LeRoi....

I got laid to your music quite regularly in college and blame Dave, not you, for DMB's recent suckitude.

From the Dave Matthew Band website:

We are deeply saddened that LeRoi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of Dave Matthews Band, died unexpectedly Tuesday afternoon, August 19, 2008, at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles from sudden complications stemming from his June ATV accident on his farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. LeRoi had recently returned to his Los Angeles home to begin an intensive physical rehabilitation program.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Looking Back...

I know, I know. I'm late but I've finally finished working through all that was captured at Lollapalooza this year and have rounded out the individual photo galleries for the PlacesParallel Photobucket. Several of the pictures are still frames from video while recording the large side stage screens so I apologize for the less than stellar quality but I still think they're worth a looksie.

A few favorites (coincidentally also my favorite acts of the weekend):

Jamie Lidell

Rage Against the Machine

Saul Williams

Nine Inch Nails

Now in searching through all this footage I found a...let's say..."interesting" bit in a video clip Mr. Iris captured. Without further ado:

It's okay, Trent. We still love you. Even if this is the gayest thing I've ever seen.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Maise is Haunting Facebook!

Okay, so I just got back from Part I of My Summer Vacation, it's really late, and I should be in bed already because I have to work tomorrow (the part-time gig), but the Real-World Me recently friended someone on Facebook who has a lot of compromising details in his profile. Because I'm the paranoid sort, I wanted to make sure that his profile was set to "private" because we've got some mutual friends who would be none-too-pleased by said compromising details, were they to discover them via a link from my profile. And the only way I was going to successfully test the security of his profile at 1:30 in the freaking morning so that I could get a peaceful night's sleep was to create a new profile, one unbefriended by the compromised person in question.


The point of all this is that your own "Tragic Maise" is on Facebook! If you have a Facebook account of your own and would like a NIN fanbitch as *your* friend, then by all means, look me up!

I had a lovely time on holiday, but my internet access is (fortunately for me) short-lived, as this ghost dog will be heading to the Caribbean this coming week! (It's a veritable orgy of used annual/vacation leave around here, but the one solid perk of my job is that they give me lots.)

So while I'm gone, please continue to discuss all things musical, or more likely than not, nonmusical. Or make it like Monty Python's "Argument Clinic" in here...doesn't bother me while I'm sitting on a beach, drinking a fruity drink.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lolla Roundup—Ro’s First Day Out

When the Maises and the Irises were busy fixing the electric, my friend JC and I headed out to Lolla early in the hope of catching Rogue Wave at 1 P.M. Now you’d think because we arrived at Grant Park by 12:20 that we’d have PLENTY of time to collect our bracelets, be strip searched, and make it across the park in time to catch Rogue. You'd think. However, I at least thought wrong. The massive swarm of hot, sweaty Lolla-goers had us in line until about 2 P.M. We couldn’t even drink our water lest they confiscate it at the gate. Ugh ugh UGH. Dear Lolla organizers, can we please forgo the pointless searches that do nothing to keep contraband out but only create a sweaty, crabby mass people? Is that really too much to ask??? Grrr....

JC and I did made it across the park in time to hear Rogue Wave’s last song, “Harmonium.” The crowd seemed energetic and appreciative. I was bummed to have missed their set, but in any event, I’d highly recommend their latest CD, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate, one of my favorites from last year.

Following Rogue, JC and I headed to the wonderfully shady BMI stage to catch Electric Touch at the suggestion of one of JC’s friends. Their first CD is due out later this month. They were pretty amusing to watch prior to the show as they were ready to play a full 15 minutes before their scheduled time, and they just kind of milled around on stage not quite sure what to do with themselves, plucking at their guitars, their natty clothes, even their hair. Their music is along the lines of Franz Ferdinand or the Strokes, but perhaps a bit more pop than either. I don’t know that I’d recommend running out and buying their CD, but they were a fun live band and definitely gave far more energy to the performance than the crowd returned.

Next up, we headed across the park (again) to catch Duffy’s set. A cleaned up version of Amy Winehouse (and not quite as good either), after about two songs, she left me feeling really blah. I’m not sure if it’s her music or the fact that her style of music doesn’t fit well with an outdoor festival. For me, acts at an outdoor festival require a lot of energy and vibrancy to grab one’s attention and hold it, especially when they’re competing against not only other bands but a number of other factors, including the heat, the concessions, the amusing frat boys who are already too drunk to stand by 3 P.M. Plus, acts that rely heavily on dramatic lighting or pyrotechnics are at a disadvantage, particularly when they have to play in the glaring afternoon sun. But I digress. Duffy had both JC and me bored to tears, so halfway through, we trekked across the park (again) to catch the end of the Kills set, which we only caught a very brief snippet of but seemed to be far more fun than Duffy.

At this point, JC and I decided to camp out in a shady area near the main stage and grab a good spot for the rest of the evening. That’s when Gogol Bordello, the gypsy punks, took the stage. Goddamn, they are a manic bunch, and any lethargy I was feeling at the time quickly dispersed. Their set was a frenzied mix of ethnic punk music that’s difficult to describe but a lot of fun to listen to. Their performance is exactly what Duffy’s wasn’t: interesting, fun, energetic, and charismatic. They didn’t slow down for a single song and quickly attracted the wandering attentions of Free Sol listeners. I would definitely recommend seeing them live even if their music isn’t your thing.

Following Gogol, Mates of State had no chance of topping that performance, and they delivered a rather bland performance that really isn’t worth talking about. I was excited, however, when Bloc Party, a favorite of mine, finally took the stage. Their set was heavy on songs from their first (and by far superior) album, Silent Alarm, and touched on all of my personal favorites. I’m hoping they return to Chicago soon as I think they too suffered from the outdoor festival-itis, but I enjoy their music enough to forgive them.

Though we were sitting across from Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks stage, we didn’t really pay much attention to their drowsy music. Their set felt generally uninspired and did little to peak my interest. But thankfully, from where JC and I were sitting, we were able to hear (though sadly not see) the performance of CSS, the Brazilian quintet who fuses pop, reggae, and dance music. JC liked them enough to buy their latest self-titled CD, which is a great listen. And they offered a far more interesting performance that Stephen Malkmus, even if we could only listen to their show.

Next up was Radiohead. Unlike Maise, I have no love for the band. I find their instrumentals to be interesting and enjoyable, but as soon as Thom opens his mouth, I want to stick ice picks in my ears. It’s like fucking nails on a chalkboard and grates on me like nothing else. And believe me, I’ve tried to like this band. I had a coworker who would listen to Radiohead at least once a day, and he convinced me to give them a whirl. When I went out and bought Amnesiac, I forced myself to listen to it any number of times and wound up giving it to him instead. He made me a copy of The Bends, promising me that I would most certainly LOVE this one. I listened to a few times as well and promptly lost (and not on purpose either). If Thom just shut his mouth, I’d be all up in that shit, but seriously? Why do people like him? Beats the hell out of me….

Anyhoo, even if I were inclined to like Radiohead’s music, as with any number of the other bands this year, they did not translate well to the outdoor arena. Even with a quite gorgeous light show, I was half asleep by the midway point. Every song sounded exactly the same, and Thom's singing was largely unintelligible. So JC and I packed it in after about an hour and decided to beat the crowds home. And apparently we weren’t the only ones bored stiff because there was a large stream of people doing the same. Thankfully, Rage and NIN nicely made up for the ennui Radiohead inspired in me. But that’s a story for another day….

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lollapalooza, Day 3--The Conclusion...

Okay, I woke up extra early this morning to make sure I get my recap of Day 3 written because later today, the husband is whisking me away to Michigan, where I will have ZERO internet access until Friday. We don't even get cell phone reception out there. 100% committment to giving you all the latest news in rock. Well, normally I'm like 45% committed...if that. But Day 3 was SO SOLID, it simply can't wait.

I remember in years past idling in the air-conditioned AT&T Digital Oasis tent, the "Green Street" market, which the husband dismissed as only selling "hippie-wear" this year, and other such distractions. But there was so little downtime this year with all the acts we wanted to see, we barely had time to eat and use those charming port-o-lets.

We arrived in time to see Perry Farrell play a short set with Slash at the kids' stage. As you may recall, we attempted to see the adult version of this show, but the audio completely died in the middle, and so did the performance. They played with at least a couple of members of The School of Rock (and I swear to God, if I ever do have children, I'm so putting them through The School of Rock because how fucking awesome would it be to play a set with Perry Farrell and Slash at the age of 12?)

In the official Lollapalooza schedule/guidebook, they insist that Perry Farrell has "a way with kids," or something like that. Well, he certainly has a way. Writhing like a snake and talking with his "Creepy Uncle Larry" voice, I can't imagine he did anything but frighten the youngest rock fans. I'm paraphrasing here, but he was prone to introducing his songs with bits of Perry wisdom like, "Now, kids, voodoo is nothing to be afraid of. And superstition is just that...superstitious," (after a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition"). Before "Knocking on Heaven's Door," he taught us, "Some of you may have known someone who has died. And death is nothing to be afraid of, kids." Slash was a silent Cousin Itt onstage, chain-smoking. (And doesn't he have a pacemaker? Is that good for his heart?) But who cares? The set still rocked! We also heard Jane's Addiction favorites like "Mountain Song" and "Jane Says." Anyway, this was a totally worthwhile little show, and since Velvet Revolver is no more, perhaps Slash and Perry should collaborate together in the future.

Next, we waited for Saul Williams. We staked out a position in front of the soundbooth, and eagle-eyed Iris flagged down the person who was handing out feathers to the crowd (so we could match Saul). Iris and I proudly wore our feathers all day like dorks...I mean, like the COOL KIDS.

Saul certainly did not disappoint. Before he and CX Kidtronik started performing, the bass to their intro music was so loud that my intestines were vibrating. I wish I was one of those people who could provide you with an accurate setlist, but I was too busy ROCKING OUT to play court reporter. I do know that he played "Gunshots by Computer," "Grippo," "Convict Colony," "Tr(n)igger," "Black Stacey," "List of Demands (Reparations)," "Surrender (A Second to Think)," "Niggy Tardust," "WTF," and "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Maybe "Break?" I can't remember. I do know that he did not let up the manic energy for a second, and the crowd was with him every step of the way. At one point, we saw a portion of the crowd surge forward, and we learned that Saul had gone into the audience. Dressed in his feathers, painted mask, and mohawk, running across the stage, roaring his lyrics, occasionally pausing for a dizzying bout of spoken word, Saul commanded the crowd like no one else I saw this weekend. As always, a Saul Williams performance is a thrilling, deeply satisfying experience. He can work the most apathetic hipsters into a frenzy and make us all feel like teenagers again, when going to a concert was the most fucking exciting thing you could imagine, and you had worked at McDonald's all summer to save up for this one night, and your parents drop you off at the door with some unspoken reservations, and you're standing in the crowd, sweating, and you really have to pee, but you're afraid to move for fear of missing the moment when the lights go out and everyone loses their shit. It's like that.

The only things detracting from this show were the 12-year-olds passing around a pipe (fucking kids these days), and the drunken floozies in sundresses who thought they were SO CUTE, sitting on their boyfriends' shoulders, trying to soak up the crowd's attention and getting in the way of Iris' recording. No Trent appearance, but he was sick, and I could see how he wouldn't want to steal Saul's thunder. Or that's my theory, at least.

Next we proceeded to the f.y.e. tent because ohmahgah, Saul Williams was signing autographs!!! I kind of love/hate autograph signings. It gives you an opportunity to meet and shake the hands of artists whom you deeply respect, love, and admire, but on the other hand, you've got all the handlers barking at you for some kind of violation, like trying to have the wrong thing signed or trying to take pictures, and then you only have about 20 seconds, tops, to make some kind of good impression, and if I'm REALLY into an artist, then I tend to lose all ability to speak. Plus, Saul is rather intimidating with his inherent, unshakeable coolness and ability to launch into dramatic beat poetry at the drop of a hat.

I was struggling to think of something good to say while Iris was trying to get some pictures before her camera was confiscated and destroyed. I noticed that CX Kidtronik was also there for autographs, and shit, what was I supposed to say to *him*? It was a lot of pressure.

As we approached, I said, "Great show!" to Kidtronik and was rewarded with an unsolicited hug. He signed my CD, and then I moved on to Saul. I was wearing my Saul Williams t-shirt (yeah, I'm THAT person), so I informed him that I was fully prepared for this signing. I then explained that he did a great show and that we would give him a glowing review "on our blog that no one reads," which elicited a REAL laugh--not a polite "ha," but a REAL laugh. So there. Then I fled the scene.

Iris told him that he did a fantastic show and complimented the 12-year-old girl who performed with him. Then she was smart enough to ask him for a hug. (Dammit!) As we got out of line, we squeed like schoolgirls. We hung around, waiting to meet a friend, and saw Saul taking some photos with lingering fans. We loitered, trying to see if we could get a pic together with him, but we ultimately chickened out. We suck.

Nine Inch Nails came on shortly afterwards. "9,999,999" led into a strong selection from The Slip: "1,000,000," "Letting You," and "Discipline." He then tackled perennial favorites, "March of the Pigs," "Closer," and "Gave Up." He played each of these with a fierce would never get the sense that he had been playing these over and over and over again for 10+ years.

Then I started to get concerned. He moved on to some Year Zero selections..."The Warning," which was sexy and menacing as usual. Then "Vessel." Oh hell. Is there anyone out there who *really* loves "Vessel"? I hear it, and all I can think of is, "What the holy fuck is going on in this song?" It's like Duran Duran's "The Reflex." I get so caught up in wondering what the fuck it's about that I can hardly appreciate its musical merits. For her part, Iris hits "skip" as soon as she hears, "I. let. you. put. it. in. my. mouth."

Then we had at least three tracks off of "Ghosts," and I started to really worry. They weren't the most exciting tracks of this album to begin with, and they were slooow, and I was concerned that Trent was going to lose this easily distracted outdoor concert crowd (most of whom were completely trashed and had wilted in the 90-degree heat for 10 hours) with instrumental noodling. Part of the problem was that Trent was on the inferior "Bud Light" stage, which is placed into a sort of depression in the ground in Grant Park. So those of us who were well in the back were kind of higher up than the stage, and it was impossible to appreciate the AMAZING production that Trent has put together. Seriously, this set is the most gorgeous I've ever seen from him and must have cost a million billion dollars.

Plus, Kanye. Kanye West, whom I like and admire, btw, was SO FUCKING LOUD. OH MY GOD. SO LOUD. He was a fucking MILE AWAY, and his sound kept bleeding into our area. This was a problem throughout all of Lollapalooza, but I think this was the first time that I've ever dealt with bleedthrough from one mile away on the complete opposite end of the park. I was waiting for Trent to throw a tantrum about this, but maybe he didn't notice or maybe he was just too sick and subdued. Nine Inch Nails, of all bands, seemed really quiet in comparison.

Next, we got a slow, quiet "Piggy," which I absolutely love, but I was ready for Trent to pick up the pace. After that, "The Greater Good"? WTF? "The Greater Good?" Of all the Year Zero tracks...sigh. I hear, " in...slowly...slowly..." and more often than not hit "skip." Why is this being performed on tour? There are some cool special effects going on in the background, not that I could really see them, though.

Perhaps it was good for those in the pit to have a bit of quiet time, but I felt like the "Ghosts" part of the setlist just dragged a bit too much for this occasion. Meanwhile, during all of this, Mr. Iris, who was trying to take some pictures and video up front, wound up tending to some 350-pound drunk guy who had broken his ankle in a mosh circle and waited for EMTs for 45 minutes. It's an epic tale of incompetence that probably deserves its own stay tuned!

Finally, "Pinion" kicked in, and Iris and I simultaneously felt a sense of "Fuck yeah!" They then launched into "Wish," finally turned the volume up to 11, and rocked the fuck out for the rest of the show. OMG, I have never ever heard a harder-hitting version of "Survivalism." That was probably the best song of the night for me. But really the entire second half of the show was just devastating, all the way up to "Head Like a Hole." Trent actually did an encore...he's doing encores now? Then returned to talk to the crowd. He apologized for his voice and explained (rather sweetly, I thought) that he had played the first Lollapalooza 17 years ago and was shocked that he was still alive and that he was still playing to a full house, so he expressed sincere gratitude to us and to his band. Then we got "Hurt," which as far as I could tell, was NOT ruined by the fans, and "In This Twilight," which turned out really well, considering his illness.

So that was the end of Lollapalooza 2008, the best I have attended so far. On the way out, Mr. Maise nearly started a fistfight in my defense when I was hit in the head with a rugby football, but we were able to resolve the situation without damaging U.S.-Australia diplomatic relations.

And now the rest of us return to the real world of work, sunburns, hangovers, moshing injuries...but not me! I'M ON VACATION, BITCHES!

Iris will update soon with amazing pics and vids, so stay tuned!

All videos are now posted to our YouTube account.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lollapalooza, Day Two--Electric Boogaloo

I awoke on this lovely morning to the voice of Iris, sweetly calling up the stairs, "Um, Maise? My car's gone." This left me with a sense of shit, shit, shit, shit, shit! Yes, we had forgotten to put a new parking tag on the rearview mirror of the Irismobile, and my Draconian homeowner's association had it towed. $150 later, the Irismobile was free! (AAA claims they will reimburse the Irises for their trouble, so all's well that ends well.)

After that was settled, we stopped at Ro's for a lovely breakfast and then proceeded to Lolla, day 2. The first act we saw was one of Trent's openers, with the unwieldy name of "Does It Offend You, Yeah?" I had never heard them before, but I really enjoyed their set. They mix electronica with punk with simple, rather adolescent, but classic rock themes on songs like "Let's Make Out" and "We Are Rockstars." They have terrific energy and enjoy bantering with the crowd. "Aw, that guy just threw up. Everyone say, 'awwwwwww'," remarked the lead singer (Morgan Quaintance?), empathetically. What I really appreciated was that they are British, yet I could actually understand what they were saying beyond, "Hello, Chicago!!!!" Quaintance, complaining of the heat, frequently jumped offstage and in front of the crowd. Later in the day, Iris got their autographs at the f.y.e. tent, so I'll let her tell you all about that experience:

DIOYY's set was lot of fun and it was nice to see that their fan enthusiasm was just as high in the autograph tent. They laughed and joked with almost everyone and were taking pictures for themselves of fans with funny t-shirts, cool tattoos, or whatever else seemed to amuse them. I of course choked when I made it up there and leeched off of the guy's conversation ahead of me about "Terminator" the TV series, which the boys all agreed sucked last year. "Yeah, but did you know that Shirley Manson is supposed to have a reoccuring role in this year's season?" "Oh really?" Yeah, so not the best bit I could have come up with, but I'd only really heard about this band a few days before, what the hell was I supposed to say? The only drawback of this experience is that we had Dierks Bentley playing in the background at the Bud Light stage. Who the fuck let a country musician into Lolla?

While Iris got her CD signed, I expressed a curiosity in The Gutter Twins. I had heard good things about them, and the Lollapalooza guidebook promised that they were going to be "a satanic Everly Brothers." The former leaders of The Afghan Whigs and Screaming Trees have united to create unbelievably dull music. Sure, they're gothy. I like gothy. Sure, their lyrics are dark. I like dark music, but I'm sorry, this show bored the shit out of me.

Fortunately, we had the resolution of the Sandwich Showdown to keep us occupied! Paul fit 7 peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches into every pocket of his pants. He had made 20 and was going to use duct tape to layer them on the inside of his pants but could not get them to stick. He also ate one sandwich on the way. Some of his sandwiches were severely flattened because he had been sitting on them all day. These were the least appetizing.

Neil arrived shortly afterwards. He was able to successfully rig a duct tape-layering system and brought a variety of sandwiches: peanut-butter-and-banana, peanut-butter-and-jelly, and turkey with cheese. His grand total? 8. Vanquished, Paul paid the $10, and we all ate sandwiches. (Paul was the one who ate his smashed ass-sandwiches.) And thus, the Sandwich Showdown concluded.

We left during the Gutter Twins' set to make it in time for Devotchka. This was by far my favorite band of the day. They are similar to Gogol Bordello with their extremely eclectic gypsy-folk-Latin-rock style. You may remember them on the soundtrack of Little Miss Sunshine. They bring a wide variety of instruments to the stage, in addition to the usual guitars and drums: theremin, tuba, bouzouki, violin, trumpet, accordion. Their music is joyful and infectious, and I didn't mind standing in the sweltering heat as the sun reflected off the pavement in front of the Playstation 3 stage, listening to their entire set. I can't wait to get their latest album on my ipod and make it the soundtrack to the movies in my head. I love this fucking band so much, it hurts.

After Devotchka, we tried to meet Mr. Maise at Perry's stage to see Perry Farrell with his special guest...Slash! Mr. Maise reported that Slash showed up midway through the set, but the sound died, and the concert ended prematurely. However, Perry and Slash are scheduled to play today (Sunday) at the kids' stage, so we are going to try to catch them there.

Next on our to-do list was British indie soul-funk-electronica star, Jamie Lidell. I'll have Iris tell you all about him because while I enjoyed his improvisational human beat-box riffing, Mr. Maise decidedly did not. So I agreed to walk with him to the other side of the park so we could see Broken Social Scene.

Jamie was a blast! We missed the first few songs of the set, but Jamie and his band were really going to town when we arrived. I wasn't quiet sure what to expect, seeing as how this was another act I'd only discovered days ago, but I wouldn't have envisioned the outfits they were wearing. Check them out.

A cummerbund seems a little formal for Lolla, but I think the saxophonist in the tunic toned down the seriousness. Two songs in, the band sort of disappeared into the audience, and Jamie gave us a 10-minute freestyle show. It was impressive to listen to, but a little boring to watch since his back was turned to us for most of the time. The band returned, and they rounded out the set with "Multiply," "Wait For Me," and "A Little Bit More," which was fun to dance along with. I was a little bit disappointed that I didn't get to hear "Game for Fools," but that's a slow song so it wouldn't have really fit the mood.

Afterwards I hightailed it back over to the autograph tent, which was on the other side of Grant Park. I don't know whose bright idea it was to schedule an autographing session 20 minutes after the set but, Jesus! "I had a cart," Jamie said, explaining his superhuman ability to arrive at the f.y.e. tent so quickly. Good news is that Jamie was in fine spirits AND was even early for the signing. Oh my God, he's so cute and funny. I started to hand him my CD and asked if he would pose for a picture. He said, "Sure. Should we do this standing up, love?" Which kind of sent me into a fit of giggles. Of course I have to crop myself out of the picture because I have the dorkiest grin ever, but doesn't he look adorable?

It seems as though everyone loves Broken Social Scene, but they were merely pleasant background music for us as we camped under some shady trees, found some food, and chatted with friends. I don't really have a lot to say about this rather large indie rock band. I was getting tired of all the mellow music. I was ready to RAWK. Fortunately, Rage Against the Machine would provide all the RAWK one could ever want, and then some.

The crowd was ginormous for this, the first Rage concert in Chicago in years. We camped out on the hill, very very far away from the stage. However, very very far away from the stage was a good place to be for this show. Rage did a "greatest hits" set, opening with a chilling prison break siren and launching into "Testify." During "People of the Sun," the band stopped the show for the first of three times to announce that people had gotten hurt up front and that everyone needed to calm down and step back. In between ranting about cops and politicians, Zack de la Rocha urged people to respect security and each other, and he clearly looked concerned, explaining that they might have to end the show early if things didn't settle down.

See, I like Rage Against the Machine. I like their music, I think their hearts are in the right place, and I think they are genuinely concerned about the welfare of their fans. However, I just can't take them seriously. Halfway through the show, I was snarking on them. These are the people who RAILED against the injustice of the Clinton years (HA HA HA HA HA HA HA), and as soon as the shit really hit the fucking fan with 9/11, the Bush administration, the abuse of civil rights, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, what does Rage do? They "break up" over "creative differences." Tom Morello creates boring-ass Audioslave (as well as some acoustic protest music), and Zack de la Rocha disappears as effectively as Trent Reznor after The Fragile. In other words, they took their ball and went home. We had to have System of a Down create the commercially successful protest music for clueless college kids. Fuck RATM.

On the other hand, it was good to hear all the hits from my clueless college days: "Bulls on Parade," "Sleep Now in the Fire," "Bullet in the Head," etc. (Although was it really wise with this crowd, for Zack to repeat dramatically, "I think I heard a shot..."?)

Of course, we had to have Zack's preachy moment. He made it very clear that RATM was not pro-Obama...oh really? Who the fuck you guys gonna vote for? Nader? Kim Jong Il? And Zack said that if Obama came to power and didn't do things right, they were going to...well, I don't know what they were going to do because I couldn't understand him with the crappy sound up on the hill and Zack's angry muppet voice.

I've got tons of respect for Tom Morello, though. He really does amazing things with the guitar. He is quietly earnest and hardworking, and he doesn't showboat. Plus, he was wearing a Cubs hat.

With the multiple pauses to remove the wounded and arrest the instigators, a generator by the AT&T Digital Tent that started pouring smoke in an alarming manner, an unauthorized fire-dancer being shut down by the police to the disappointment of the crowd, this was a fucked-up show. They ended with everyone's favorite, "Killing in the Name of," and as far as I'm aware, no one died during this set.

All in all, Day 2 of Lolla was excellent with a ton of great acts to see, pleasant weather, and a lot of PB&J sandwiches.

However, nothing compares to our excitement for tonight, when we will be seeing both SAUL WILLIAMS (who's autographing, OMFG!) and, of course, NINE INCH NAILS!

More to come...including more pics and videos!

Oh, speaking of Rage Against the Machine, look who showed up backstage!

I'm glad to see that Trent's feeling better. Or did he pull a Ferris Bueller because he just wanted to see this show? Hmmm...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lollapalooza, Day One--Places Parallel Reports!

Hi everyone!

Sheesh, it's been one busy weekend! Sorry, we haven't been doing much of the "live blogging," but the schedule at Lolla has been pretty packed, with little downtime, and our time at Chez Maise has been rather...well, not exactly catastrophic, but definitely chaotic.

An explanation:

Iris and Mr. Iris were due to arrive at my place late Thursday night. Mr. Maise was working late that night. When I came home from work, I noticed that my garage door opener (my usual way of getting into the house) wasn't working, and I didn't have the front door key on me (long story). So I surmised that the power to the garage door had probably gone out, as there had been some heavy storms in the area that afternoon. I wound up having to call a locksmith to get me in the house, and an hour and a half and $160 later, I finally got in.

(By the way, dear readers, I think we should all train to be locksmiths. Now that is a sweet fucking racket. You do like five minutes of work and you can charge desperate people whatever the hell you want.)

So when I got in, I realized that precisely half of our home was without power. I contacted our local electric company, which actually sent technicians over much more promptly than expected. They determined that it wasn't a power outage on their end, and it wasn't our breaker box, but rather it was the wiring between the meter and the breaker. Hence, we were going to have to call an electrician. At this point, I lay catatonic on the couch, imagining the thousands of dollars this was surely to cost us. Plus, I had out-of-state houseguests on the way, and we had no TV, no internet, no fridge, and, worst of all, no AC when the weather has been pushing 90.

The next day, the first day of Lollapalooza, we were stuck at Chez Maise til approximately 3 p.m., waiting for the electrician to make a temporary repair ($445, with more to come!), but at least, as of this writing, we have full power and AIR CONDITIONING. So we were off!

When one arrives at Lollapalooza on Day One, there's a lot of nonsense involved, getting one's bracelet for the weekend (this year, it's an annoying coarse cloth bracelet that can't be removed for three days), getting one's beer bracelet, making sure group members go to the bathroom and get food and/or drinks, meeting up with other friends via text messages with iffy reception, and figuring out whom to see when. This is the reason that when the Maises and the Irises arrived at 4-ish, we only wound up seeing two acts that night. I was highly dissappointed that we didn't make it for Gogol Bordello because I have heard excellent things about them. But fortunately, Ro saw a lot more bands than we did, and she should soon be able to fill in the gaps.

This year, they have a beer garden, charmingly named "Lederhosen's," with picnic tables under shady trees. This has proved to be a good meeting point. We met a friend of mine, "Paul," who was already completely wasted by the time we arrived. Paul and another friend, "Neil," wound up making a $10 bet to see who could smuggle in the highest number of sandwiches the following day. You see, at Lollapalooza, one is allowed to bring in two liter-sized factory-sealed water bottles and nothing else food- or drink-related. So if you want sustenance during the weekend, you'll have to pay. Therefore, Paul and Neil plotted to smuggle sandwiches in their pants, and we spent a considerable amount of time establishing the rules of this contest: 1) No poisonous ingredients; 2) The sandwiches must contain something between slices of bread; 3) The sandwiches MUST be contained in sealed Ziploc bags, or no one would eat them. We agreed to be the judges, and Paul and Neil shook on it. The results of The Sandwich Showdown of 2008? To be continued...on Day 2!

When we *finally* got ourselves together, we went, on Paul's insistence, to see Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. I have friends who are positively obsessed with Malkmus from his work with Pavement. My review of his current material? Meh. It might have strong indie cred, what with their new drummer being Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney and all, but it sounded like hippie jam music to me. And I hate hippie jam music. In addition, I was surrounded by a huge cloud of pot smoke and people like the dancing hippie chick in a string bikini, huge sunglasses, a headband and two braids. Hm, you wanna wear some clothes next time you go to Lollapalooza, honey? Off of his latest album, 2008's "Real Emotional Trash," I know that he played "Dragonfly Pie" and "Elmo Delmo." Other than that, not too familiar with the Jicks, sorry. If I could turn back time, like Cher, I would probably have chosen to watch CSS, who seemed to be fun, energetic and punky.

The day went by so quickly, the next act was the night's headliner, Radiohead! This was a much-anticipated concert for me, as I've been a Radiohead fan for years, but I've never been able to see them live before. My all-time favorite Radiohead album is The Bends, and truthfully, I wish they weren't *so* critically acclaimed that they didn't feel as though they could completely abandon intelligible lyrics. However, their continued genius cannot be denied.

There was a veritable sea of humanity assembled for this concert, and we weren't among those who had camped out in front of the stage since 2 a.m. that morning, so it was very difficult to see anything other than the large screens next to the stage. They had a breathtaking set and lighting, though. Absolutely gorgeous.

Strangely enough, they also had a sign language translator on one side of the stage? It's nice of Thom and the boys to acknowledge our hearing-impaired friends, but fuck, I don't have the slightest idea what he's saying or singing at any given time. How do you translate when, as Iris puts it, Thom Yorke is imitating whale calls?

I was having a hard time feeling personally connected to the show because we were so far away, there were so many people, I couldn't really see anything, and we were outdoors with all sorts of distractions, like a nearby fireworks show (unrelated to Lolla) being held at Solider Field. I think had we been indoors, in perhaps the Allstate Arena, I would have been mesmerized. But in this setting, I was only reminded of the claustrophobia, the sweltering heat, the distressing conditions of the port-a-potties at the end of the day, and my hunger (as a drunken Paul ate half of my bratwurst earlier). Here's a perfect example: I should have been enchanted and transported during "No Surprises," but instead my drunk husband was recounting a tale of discovering some rotting dead body at work (don't worry, he's in law enforcement) and was describing his superiors puking at the sight of maggots and flies. Goddammit.

I wish that I had gotten around, as I had wanted to do, to purchasing "In Rainbows," as I think I would have been much more familiar with the setlist. Again, I prefer their earlier angst to their current experimentation. So I was thrilled to hear "The Bends," "Fake Plastic Trees," and "Paranoid Android."
I'm also a huge fan of Kid A, so I was very excited to hear "Everything in Its Right Place," "The National Anthem," "Optimistic," and "Idioteque." However, Thom Yorke was VERY off-key this evening (is that typical for him live?), so it was really heartbreaking to hear him miss those high notes on some of my favorite songs.

Ultimately, Radiohead put on an excellent show, but I don't know if Lollapalooza is really the right venue for them. Truthfully, the perfect venue for them is my car, on the way to work. But when you're playing the last show of the day at the end of a 10-hour marathon in 90-degree heat, the average Radiohead set just feels sooooo exhausting. Listening to these slow, atmospheric songs, I was so much more aware of my sore feet and fatigue Friday, and I put in a much shorter day than today (Saturday). But then, you all know I'm a whiny bitch.


Iris has videos and pics, of course. We'll get some of the pics up now, but the videos may have to wait a couple of days. Stay tuned! In the meantime, you can check out pics here.