I’m writing this on Saturday morning from my laptop at the very nice Doubletree Hotel in Skokie (thank you, Priceline!).
First, some links to what others (who can probably say it better than I) are saying about Lolla’s first day:
Random Observations from the Chicago Tribune
Photos from the Chicago Tribune
Day 1 Recap from the Chicago Tribune
No reviews on Pitchfork yet, they must’ve been out late at the official after-Lolla shows
Here is the list of bands we saw on Day 1:
12:15 – 12:40: Black Lips
These guys were fine for a 12:15 performance, and they definitely had a lot of energy, bouncing all over the stage. Being early in the day though, we decided to do a little wandering rather than listen to the whole set of a band we didn’t know a ton of material from.
1:00 walk-by: Manchester Orchestra
We just walked by this band. They were definitely rocking the side stage.
1:05 – 1:15: Noah and the Whale
We really just heard these guys from the deep part of the AT&T stage area, as we headed into the air-conditioned AT&T Oasis. Very nice sound, but we were too far away to make any real judgments.
1:15 – 2:15: Rogue Wave
These guys were really really good. Perfect music for the early afternoon. They were getting overwhelmed a bit by the loud beats from Manchester Orchestra playing directly behind them for the first half of their set, but they handled it pretty well.
2:15 – 3:15: Yeasayer
Here’s the first band of the day that exceeded expectations. I knew a few of their songs, but didn’t know much about the band itself. They really put on a great show, mixing drums with electronic beats, guitars with keyboards, and somewhat atmospheric sound with uplifting vocals. I’d see them again.
Side note: During breaks between songs, we could hear a bit of the performance by The Enemy UK from a distant side stage. Their sound was rockin’ and catchy enough that I need to remember to check them out.
3:15 – 3:30: The Kills
First disappointment of the day. I’m not sure if it was the sound bleeding over from Louis XIV directly behind them, the heat or just that this is a band that sounds better recorded than live right now. We left early to wander.
3:30-3:35 walkby: Louis XIV
The boys from Louis XIV were doing everything they could to get the crowd into it with a song about sex when we walked by.
3:50 – 4:15: Duffy
She definitely has a nice voice, but I couldn’t help but think that this performance was exactly what you’d expect from an American Idol participant (albeit the Welsh version), what with the mix of covers and relatively safe sound. Again, nice voice, but not a new favorite or anything.
4:15 – 4:35: The Black Keys
There were a ton of sound issues here as sound from Perry’s — the DJ area — made hearing this band difficult. Kelley is a much bigger fan of the ‘Keys than I am, so I talked her into leaving probably earlier than she would have.
4:45 – 5:15: Gogol Bordello
Wow. Any disappointment Kelley had in leaving The Black Keys disappeared early as Gogol Bordello just freakin rocked the crowd’s socks off. This collective is all over the stage with all sorts of instruments. One song including a violin, accordion, cymbals, drum set, the big bass drum you’d see in a parade, and a tin pail. Yes, a pail. Placed over the microphone and beaten with drumsticks. Awesome show. I will be waiting patiently for their next Milwaukee appearance!
5:15 – 6:15: Mates of State
This duo just has a great upbeat, pop feel to them. Great set by a band that simply loves playing good music that they hope makes people happy (and it works).
6:15 – 7:15: Bloc Party
With one of the thicker English accents I’ve ever heard, it was almost impossible to understand Bloc Party’s frontman when he spoke, but the songs were all there. An entertaining set delivered to a huuuuuuuuge crowd that was probably half there just to reserve a spot for Radiohead.
After reading the reviews of the Raconteurs show, I’m a little bummed that we missed it.
7:15 – 7:45: CSS
We wanted to hear this Brazilian group for their catchy hit tune, “Music is my Hot Hot Sex” (from the iPod commercial). They didn’t disappoint, showing a lot of energy as they bounded around the stage.
Then, we took off for home. This likely caused confusion in the thousands of folks who were making the migration to the Radiohead show, but after a long, hot, humid, sweaty — but entertaining — day, we were ready.
We got ice cream at Johnny Rockets in Skokie after talking to some nice folks at the Howard Metra stop. Also learned that the Cubs lost and the Brewers were up 9-0. Oh, and I finally got my 3G signal back on my phone.
Other random observations:
- The majority of the crowd is smart enough to drink water (as opposed to beer) when it’s crazy hot. I remarked to Kelley that this is an example of what separates Lolla from Summerfest. People go to Lolla for the music first, and the beer second (or third). People go to Summerfest to drink and there just happens to be music near by. Yes, I’m a music snob.
- The Official Program for Lollapalooza is by far the best I’ve seen at any event ever. The booklet contains recaps of every band. Impressive.
- There’s a definite “Green” vibe to the fest. From the “Hold Onto It” (only take one) note on the program to the roving volunteer recyclable collectors to the frequent trash/recycling bin checks (and removal if they’re nearing capacity), this is one of the cleaner events I’ve ever been to.
- Not sure if it was just because it was a music festival or if it was because Radiohead was headlining, but there was a LOT of weed being smoked at Lollapalooza. We observed at least 5 different groups of people within arms length of us smoking it in rolled form or from mini-bongs. Oh, and while standing at the Duffy concert, this kid asks me, “You need some bud?” After a brief moment of confusion (why would this stranger buy me a beer?), I realize he’s talking about some mary jane. I respectfully decline. Could’ve had a field day if I were an undercover DEA operative.
- Most annoying thing of the day? The dudes soliciting the crowd for money for their grade school basketball team. I can’t believe this was an authorized Lolla activity.
- Along with the peeps at the Tribune, I also noted that a $3 watermelon slice seemed overpriced (it did look delicious though).
- A better deal? The $3 sweet potato chips. An entire heaping paper plate full.
- Also a good deal? The marinated chicken sandwhiches that we got for lunch. There was like a breast-and-a-half on each sandwhich. And it was tasty.
- Not only do the vendors have really fair pricing, but there are a lot of giveaways. The Blackstone Wine Bar was giving away roll-up mats that could be used to sit on in preference to blankets (we didn’t get one… yet). AT&T and MySpace were giving away portable fans. Dell was giving away mini buttons, custom t-shirts, and… haircuts. Yes, there were dudes getting their hair cut in a tent at Lollapalooza.
- For comfort purposes, there is XRT’s lounge chair area and the Hammock area, both covered by plenty of shade. With some downtime in Saturday’s band list, I think we’ll be checking these locales out.
- According to Kelley, the porta potties were cleaner than the lone brick-and-mortar ladies room, which was apparently disgustingly filthy.
In fashion (I mean, Kelley was here, so this topic got discussed):
- A lot of girls in boots. Not those ugly Ugg style boots, but leather boots. Ugly accessory to shorts and summer dresses, ladies.
- There were a lot of bikinis, a lot of bikinis under white shirts, and a lot of improvised bikinis as the girls were rolling up their shirts. I did not complain.
- For the ladies, there were a ton of shirtless dudes. Kelley didn’t complain, and I didn’t participate.