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.


emerald527 said...

I trekked out to Cleveland yesterday to see Radiohead, also at an outdoor venue. Very impressed overall, but I could have done without the proliferation of pot smokers near me on the lawn. Also, whoever programmed the lights during "Everything In Its Right Place" is an idiot for putting an apostrophe in "its."

My experience was the opposite, though. I'm very familiar with In Rainbows, but I didn't recognize a good half of the non-IR songs. Good thing I attended with a knowledgeable friend who filled in the blanks for me.

Iris said...

All videos are now posted!

It was kind of touch and go for songs I knew. Most of their set list were ones I've kinda heard but I wouldn't have been able to tell you a name. I love "Nude" off In Rainbows though.