Lollapalooza Day 3 (and overall) Recap

Let’s start off with a quick recap of our Sunday:

8:00 am – I wake up. I don’t know why, since it’s still early. But, I’m up.

10:30 am – Check out of the hotel. Didn’t get charged for the two days of in-room internet usage. Combine that with the extra bottle of water from the vending machine last night, and we just got an unexpected $22 discount at the Doubletree! We’re on our way to Evanston for brunch with Kelley’s friend Margaret and her husband Andy.

11:00 – 12:45 – Brunch at the Lucky Platter. Wow, this was SOOOO much better than our breakfast at Panera on Saturday. Margaret and Andy are super nice — here’s hoping they sell that house in Northbrook and move to SE Wisconsin soon.

1:00 – 2:00: Train to downtown. The train is packed with festival-goers, so it unexpectedly turns into an Express train. Sweet!

2:15 – 3:15: Brazilian Girls
This was a Kelley pick and a band that is definitely more electronic-ey than I typically go for, but they were a great kickoff to the day. It’s hot again, but still not as bad as Friday. I’m tired, so I spend about 15 minutes of this set laying down, resting my eyes, and chillin’ to the beat.

3:30 – 3:50: Black Kids
I was really looking forward to this new band after hearing their catchy “I’m not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you” tune all year. However, I left disappointed. Not sure if it’s the outdoor setting, or just an un-readiness for the festival scene, but they didn’t sound like anything special. So, we decided to head north to the Iron & Wine show. On the way, we walked by the Kidz stage where Perry Farrell was singin’ some Jane’s Addiction tunes (I found out later that he was up there with Slash — that explains the capacity crowd there). On the way, we make a stop at the merchandise tent so I can pick up my 2008 official Lolla shirt. It’s a long sleeve number, so it might be a few weeks before I wear it to work.

4:15 – 5:00: Iron & Wine
This was simply a pleasant show. Perfect sound for all of Sam Beam’s mellow tunes. This is turning into a pretty mellow day. And honestly, I think the crowd might have a little Lolla-hangover. We head off to the food stand for a little dinner.

5:15 – 6:15: Flogging Molly
After dinner, we walk back to see Flogging Molly. Whoa, capacity crowd over here, at least on the walkways. Despite the slow-moving walk to find an open grass spot though, the crowd is incredibly friendly. This would not be nearly as pleasant an experience at Summerfest. Flogging Molly put on a raucous, rockin’ set. They had the crowd jumping and clapping throughout. Not to mention the mosh pit that appeared to take form up near the stage. Great show.

6:30 – We decide to say goodbye to Lolla ’08. Tough decision to leave early, but we’ve already seen The National and Gnarls Barkley, Mark Ronson, Kanye West and NIN were simply not attractive enough to us to outweight the opportunity to return to MKE at a reasonable hour. So, we hit the road. On the train, we are entertained by the drunk kid. From the Howard stop, we head to the highway, and wow, did we make great time. There were no delays whatsoever on our ride out of Chicago or into Wisconsin. Heck, we even discovered a newly opened ramp connecting northbound 94 to westbound 94. This has truly been a weekend of painless commuting.

So, Lollapalooza 2008 has come to an end. A few quick overall thoughts:

Top 5 Bands (in no particular order)

  • Gogol Bordello
  • The Ting Tings
  • Wilco
  • Broken Social Scene
  • Yeasayer

(yep, my faves were all on Friday and Saturday)

3 Most Disappointing shows (that we saw, again, no particular order)

  • The Kills
  • MGMT
  • Black Kids

(one per day — not bad, not bad at all)

5 Bands that Warrant Further Inspection

  • The Enemy UK
  • Dr. Dog
  • Explosions in the Sky
  • Serena Ryder
  • Amadou & Miriam

5 non-Music Highlights from the weekend

  • The weather. Especially Saturday, but all weekend long, it was awesome.
  • The crowd. The fest was sold out all three days, and while there were certainly a lot of people, it never felt unsafe or unruly. Seriously, it’s night-and-day from Summerfest.
  • The prices. I never felt like I was getting raked over the coals at any point. Nice work Lolla.
  • Getting offered weed. I didn’t accept, but it makes me feel like I look cool because I had it offered to me not once, but twice.
  • Our logistics. Staying in Skokie was way cheaper than staying downtown. Training in and back each day was painless. Our drive home was smooth.

3 Non-Music Lowlights

  • The sound bleed from the side stages to the main stages. This was a big complaint from the 2007 Lolla-goers, and it doesn’t appear to have been resolved very well. Hopefully they can think about this a little more before next year.
  • The lack of fruit availability. Sure, there were $3 watermelon slices, but where was the fruit cup? Or apples? Anything to complement the meat and fried food.
  • The lack of a quality signal from AT&T at a festival that they are a lead sponsor of. How they were OK with no 3G signal throughout the park is beyond me.

As for what others are saying, here we go with a bunch of links:

The Chicago Tribune recaps Day 3
Only 14 arrests at the fest in 3 days — not bad, not bad at all
Snapshots from Lolla

Setlists from some of the main stage bands

From Pitchfork: Saturday reports from Amy, Matthew and Joshua. Sunday reports from Scott, Amy, Matthew and Joshua

Brooklyn Vegan has photos from the Nine Inch Nails, Cat Power, CSS, Kanye West, Bloc Party, Rage Against the Machine

Stereogum has photos from Saturday and Sunday

That’s all for now — can’t wait for Lolla 2009!!!

Lolla Day 3 Recap tonight

What with today being a work day and all, I won’t be putting up my Day 3 recap until tonight. I will say that Friday and Saturday were definitely my favorite two days of the fest — and that I’m definitely tired today!

Day 3 Plan

Today is bittersweet. It’s the final day of Lollapalooza 2008, which means we’re approximately 365 days away from the next slate of awesome shows from my favorite music festival. On the other hand, it means we’re closer to being able to recover from the physical effects of festival-ing. You know, the sore muscles, the tiredness, the sun tans (or pinkish-almost-burniness if you’re Kelley).

We’re meeting up with Kelley’s friend Margaret and her husband for a little brunch at 11 in Evanston. Then, we’ll red line it back to the fest, where we’re looking forward to:

2:15 – Brazilian Girls
3:30 – Black Kids
4:15 – Iron & Wine
5:15 – Flogging Molly
6:15 – Gnarls Barkley
7:15 – Mark Ronson
8:30 – An Obama sighting? and/or a walk back for our hour-long Metra trip, to be followed closely by 90 minutes or so of travel time back home.

Lollapalooza Day 2 Recap

The Chicago Tribune reviews the Day 2 acts

and updates their random observations (yeah, the music got in the way of our plan to check out the hammocks too!)

…and the pro bloggers finally check in:

Pitchfork has Friday reports from Joshua, Matthew, Amy, and Scott. Stereogum has photos from Friday. Brooklyn Vegan talks about Rogue Wave, Wilco, and the Black Lips & Black Keys.

Our Saturday looked like this:

10:00: An underwhelming breakfast at Panera. Would you like some egg with that Ciabatta bread?

10:30: Drive to the Howard Metra stop in Evanston. It took us a good 20-25 minutes to make the trip there, but at least we know we’ll have a train back to our car tonight.

11:00: on the Red line to downtown. It’s probably because it’s our third trip, but suddenly this feels like a really long train ride.

12:20 – 12:45: Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s
A nice, pleasant set to open our second day of Lollapalooza. It is a gorgeous day out. I’ve sweated like a gallon less than yesterday at this time. Also, suntan lotioning up BEFORE going outside seems to have been far more effective. The crowd is incredibly navigable today — I’m sure it’s because our last memory is of the Radiohead-watchers, but I also don’t think today’s a sellout.

12:45 – 1:30: The Ting Tings
Wow!!! These two put on a GREAT show. I mean, we’re talking about the very first band of the day on the AT&T stage, and they had the crowd (including Kelley and me) bouncing for 2/3 of their set. The Ting Tings are fun, and they know how to please a crowd, including among other things, a rocking finale of “Shut Up and Let Me Go.”

1:30 – 2:15: Dr. Dog
We listened to Dr. Dog from inside the Blackstone Wine Bar. Kelley enjoyed a nice chardonnay, I went with a fuller Pinot Noir. Other wine bar dwellers were buying bottles of wine (which were poured into big plastic travelers). That seems dangerous. I didn’t think I knew much about Dr. Dog, so either I’ve heard a bunch of their songs but didn’t know it was them (I’ve definitely heard ‘The Old Days’ and like it a ton), or their sound is incredibly familiar. I definitely need to follow up with a more detailed look at these guys soon.

2:15 – 2:45: Foals
We found a shady spot off to the side of the Citi stage to listen to a few songs from the Foals. Big, catchy, electronic-ey tunes were the order of the day. Not bad, but not the favorite style of music for either Kelley or me.

3:30 – 4:30: MGMT
I was really really looking forward to seeing MGMT, but ultimately left this show disappointed. I’m not going to judge the band on this performance though, as their mellower opening tunes were almost completely drowned out by the booming bass of Booka Shade, who were playing that Citi stage that is located way to close behind the MySpace one. If I could fault the band with anything, it would be saving their three most well-known songs (Electric Feel, Time to Pretend and Kids) for the end of their set. Most of the Lolla bands mix their known stuff in early so as not to lose the crowd. I will say this though, of all the shows we went to (and granted, we skipped Radiohead), this was the most crowded stage of all.

4:30 – 4:45: Serena Ryder
We decided to check out Serena Ryder at the BMI stage. This was our only foray over to this side stage, and wow, it might have the best setting of any stage on the grounds. A ton of shade, plenty of non-concrete seating. Too bad there aren’t more acts we want to see here. Ryder reminds me of Brandi Carlisle with her scratchy voice, high energy and almost alt-country sound. Definitely an artist I’ll check out more post-Fest.

5:00 – 5:30: Explosions in the Sky
Kelley wandered off to go see Jamie Lidell, while I listed to Explosions in the Sky from a distance. These guys were super high energy, especially for a band that plays tunes with no vocals. I really like their sound.

5:30 – 6:30: Okkervil River
Okkervil rocked when we saw them opening for the New Pornographers in Madison earlier this year, and they didn’t disappoint at the Playstation stage either. From a rousing opener of “The President is Dead” to the crowd pleasing “My Life is Not a Movie or Maybe,”  Okk River had total command of the audience, inspiring sing-a-longs, plenty of bouncing in place, and a whole lotta clapping.

6:30 – 7:30: Broken Social Scene
For a band that has been around as long as BSS, and has launched the career of one Leslie Feist, I feel a little ashamed for only knowing one of their songs (24/7 Shoreline). They put on a great early evening set of jam bandy pop tunes. Quite enjoyable.

7:30: Dinner time.
Have I mentioned how reasonably priced everything is? I have? Well, it’s worth repeating. For dinner, I went with a Pulled Turkey sandwhich ($5) and Kelley and I split a Taco/Tamale combo ($5) and some Guac and Chips ($5) — yes, $15 for two people to eat (you’ll have to ask Kelley if this was her entire dinner or not), at a festival. Nice. We drank beer with dinner too. Those were $5 each. Let’s see you do that, Summerfest!

8:00 – 8:30: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
We went to find a spot for Wilco, and listened to Sharon and the ‘Kings rock the place from afar. Definitely a crowd-pleasing set from a band that knows how to bring it live. Their retro-ish sound isn’t typically my bag, but I enjoyed everything I heard.

8:30 – 9:45: Wilco
Jeff Tweedy and the boys put on a truly crowd pleasing set of well known fare. From the sound of things, this was definitely a less raucous (and dare I say – older) crowd than the gathering at Rage Against the Machine. Saturday was like a reverse of our Friday. Whereas Day 1 started out mellow with Rogue Wave and Yeasayer, then built up to the frenetic energy of CSS; Saturday started with an energetic set by the Ting Tings and concluded with the laid back pleasantness of Wilco. Just a thoroughly enjoyable day and a fitting, headline-worthy ending.

10:00: Ok, the train is busier tonight. For about 2/3 of this trip, Kelley and I are standing. Not exactly surprising, but boy, are we going to be worn out by the end of this weekend! :)

Wilco

My first ever Lolla headliner show! Jeff Tweedy and the gang started strong and never looked back as they mixed old and new tunes to the crowd’s delight, all the while dressed in some impressively stitched up duds.

This was a great finale to an awesome day at the festival.

photo

Broken Social Scene

Kelley came to join me for the BSS show after she was disappointed by Jamie Lidell. The Canadian collective put on a great show, although I was at a bit of a disadvantage since I only really know one of their tunes well.

photo

Okkervil River

Kelley and I split up for a bit during the evening shows. I chose to attend a rockin’ Okkervil River show. Definitely a good time. AND I was only about 15 rows of people from the stage.

photo

Early Saturday highlights

Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s were so-so.

On the other hand, the Ting Tings were awesome! For a new-ish band, they worked the crowd and stage like old pros. Closing tune “Shut up and let me go” was a definite highlight.

After that show, we hit the Blackstone wine bar for our first alcohol of the fest, some shade, and free mats from Blackstone. We could also hear the Dr Dog show and surprisingly, I think I know a bunch of their songs AND like them a lot. Must check them out further.

Now we’re off for food.

Day 2 Plan

What we’re hoping for on Day 2

  1. Breakfast. Destination unknown, but I’m hungry.
  2. Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s at 12:15 and The Ting Tings at 12:45, followed by a big ol’ wandering break from 1:30 – 3:30 when we see either MGMT or DeVotchKa. I expect to explore the giveaways, the Playstation tent, the hammocks and the wine bar.
  3. I think we’re going to split up at 6:30 with me going to Broken Social Scene and Kelley going to Lupe Fiasco.
  4. Wilco at 8:30. This will be the first headline act that I ever stay for at Lolla.
  5. The 10-ish pm train back to Skokie. Parking at the Howard train station and driving back to Skokie (since the last train to leave Howard for Skokie is at 11, and we’d likely miss it)

Lollapalooza Day 1 Recap

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.