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.


Iris said...

Oh my God this has been the BEST weekend EVER! I'm still trying to absorb everything but I should have plenty of time for that on the 6 hour drive back home today. Hopefully I'll catch some Z's since I'll be burning the midnight oil for videos and more pictures.

maise said...

I can't wait to see them! And as for the rest of you, feel free to make a liar of me re: "no one reads this blog."

Anonymous said...

I just use this blog to line my bird cage.

I think the bird reads it.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, though, excellent reviews. I wasn't even aware of the Gutter Twins, and I was a big fan of both Dulli and Lanegan back in the day and I'm going to have to check them out--even though they apparently bite ass live.

D:ANGEL said...

JR - check your e-mail (and don't be excited).

Interesting reviews. I am not one for the outdoor concerts but your reviews definitely made it come alive. I just wish I understood the attraction to some of the artists because they do very little for me. It's all a matter of taste of course...

The other night a few people and I were watching a Danzig home video from the 80s and my girl turns to me and says, "it suddenly all makes sense!" Just goes to show you find artists enagaging because something about what they give off registers with something in you... of course it doesn't always have to be that deep.

Iris said...

It doesn't always have to be that deep but isn't it a fantastic feeling when you do find music like that? I love discovering artists that can knock you on your ass or can move you to the point where you can't sit still when you listen to them.

I know Maise has already sang her praises to Saul Williams but I can't reiterate enough how amazing his work is. I tried to maintain composure in front of the hipsters this weekend but I'm telling you, as soon as "List of Demands" kicked on I was like a woman who'd found Jesus at a Evangelical revival. That song is pure genius and should come with a warning label for anyone with a heart condition. Actually, anything played at his live shows should come with that warning.

And then to have him be such a nice guy at the autograph tent...just wow. So impressed! I feel a little bad asking for a hug now like maybe it was too personal. I'm not normally that forward but he had given another woman ahead of us in line a hug so I guess it felt like an okay thing to do at the time.

One of the things I don't care for with the large outdoor festivals like this one are all the people who just seem to aimlessly walk around not enjoying any part of it...or at least messing with my enjoyment of an act. Like the ones that are just talking, talking, talking about the most irrelevant crap. It's like "HELLO! You do realize you're at a concert, don't you? Don't you want to pay a slight bit of attention to what you paid money for?" I suppose you'll run into those kind of folks at any kind of show but it just seems there are so many more at these kinds of things.

Mr. Maise overheard one particularly useless conversation during Perry Ferrell and Slash's first performance.

Girl 1: Perry's hot.

Girl 2: Oh I know. So hot.

Girl 1: I'd do him.

Girl 2: Me too!

Girl 1: I think he's bi.

Girl 2: Yeah. I think he is too...but I'd still do him.

Girl 1: Oh, I totally would still do him. Even if he's bi.

Both Girls: PERRY WE'D DO YOU!!!

I'm not saying that I'm completely guilt free on ever having a conversation like this but I generally keep it confined to IM's and would never shout "I'D DO YOU" to an artist at their show. Although I'm sure this wasn't the first or last time Perry or Slash has been solicited in this manner.

Iris said...

Oh and I checked into that bit about Slash and his pacemaker/defibrillator, turns out Dude has had that since he was 35 which seems way, way too young to be sporting equipment like that.

I also remember reading somewhere (possibly in his book) that he abuses the device. It's set to kick in if his heart rate gets too low or too high but he would work toward setting it off during performances with Velvet Revolver. I'm paraphrasing here but I think he said something like the first time it happened it scared the hell out of him because it felt like a horse had kicked him in the chest but after that he started looking forward to live performances where he could feed off the audience's and band members' energy to get him in a frenzied state where the defibrillator would go off. Now if that isn't an abusive/addictive personality I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

What happens is that it'll cause an irregular rhythm, which cause the defibrillator to engage--which means sending an electrical shock to the heart, thereby literally "shocking" it back into a normal rhythm.

Like that Motley Crue song, "Kickstart My Heart"!

Iris said...

Well however it works I don't think it's meant to be used as an alternative "high".

Anonymous said...

(Back before my return to the performing arts world, I spent several years in healthcare. I still want to be a doctor when I grow up.)

Anonymous said...

No, Slash is a fucking dumbass.

Anonymous said...

Right; feedback officially solicited. See #64.

Iris said...

All videos are now posted!

-phew- I didn't think I'd EVER finish!

D:ANGEL said...

This doc is playing in LA coming up - have you heard of it Maise?

"YOU WEREN'T THERE is a gritty, exhilarating look back on the impact punk had on the Windy City. From what is now considered to be the first punk club in America (La Mere Vipere) to other proto-hardcore clubs and DIY venues, Chicagoans made sure that there were outlets for the genre that was often blacklisted by the mainstream rock scene. Featuring archival footage of Naked Raygun, Big Black and more."