I never thought I would do something like this, but what do you know? The power of technology has grabbed me by the shins and said cooperate or else. So I am.
Last weekend, Lollapalooza visited the great city of Chicago and in my opinion, it was a great success.
On Saturday, my brother and I got there and we celebrated this very warm day by taking in one of the greatest communist rock bands ever. Not since the likes of Gorky Park and their hit bang has a band with the communist mentality rocked so hard. Despite the fact that this communist band sells their cd’s for $17.99 each, The International Noise Conspiracy started off the day with by putting the rock in Saturday before noon.
We walked in about 15 minutes into the set and we were treated to just plain hard rock and roll. These guys have several albums out, but they don’t compare to the live experience they throw over the crowd. Lots of stage presence and a lot of intensity, they were definitely one of the biggest highlights of the day.
After that we went and checked out the Warlocks on the Budweiser Select Stage. With a name like the Warlocks, one would think this might be a rock on all out Metal band, boy or girl, you could not be further from the truth. These guys take their duties from artists like the Jesus & Mary Chain and the Velvet Underground. They were ok, but as they were playing, the sounds from the French My Bloody Valentine influenced M83 were coming from across the field.
We went over and checked M83 out for a little bit before we decided to go see two former heroin addicts play kids music.
At the Kiddiepalooza stage, Peter DiStefano and Perry Farrell played a few Porno for Pyros songs. To a crowd that Peter claimed was “the most mature crowd of 10 year olds I have ever seen” they played “100 Ways” and the Porno classic “Pets.” I was actually pretty happy to see that there were not that many kids around, because the last thing you need are kids going around telling their parents that if Aliens come and take over the world, we will at last make great pets.
When the heroin kiddie music calmed down, we went over to go see Ambulance Ltd. This New York band was one of my favorite finds of 2004. To me it seems like they are trying to bring back that great sound of the UK shoegazing scene to the states. Good songs, great melody and a lot of effects on the guitar. I had a chance to see them before at a small club and they were great, but for a large event like this, they were just to mellow to overcome the 100 degree tempts, so we went over to see …and you will know us by the trail of the dead.
This Austin, TX band is one of those bands that sits well with both hipsters and emo kids. Every time I hear the name, I think of when a friend of mine was in Austin at one of their shows and he was telling me that he was back stage with them and they were trying to get them to do cocaine with him. He kindly declined.
These guys are loud. FUCKING LOUD!! But in a very good way. They were solid and then to top it off, at the end of their set, they started breaking all of their equipment. Usually I think this is a poor cry out for attention on stage, but they did a very good job of it and if you are cool enough to trash two drum sets on stage, you are cool enough to do whatever you want.
Next up, the Kaiser Chiefs. This was one of the biggest “it” bands at the entire festival. They have songs called “Everyday I Love You Less and Less” and “Na Na Na Naa.” Good titles and very catchy. As a band that I would usually dismiss, because when some guy comes up to me wearing a shirt that says “Idaho, You Da Ho!” and says “These guys rock like no other” I usually walk away and go, I am out of here, but I stayed and was pleasantly surprised.
LUNCH BREAK – It was so hot out, I had to leave and go get something to eat so I missed a few lame bands.
After Lunch, I got back in time to see and icon in the music industry. BILLY FUCKING IDOL! Yes, the man himself was performing a Chicago’s premier music festival and it was great. He came out, did his pertinent snarl and began to rock. He played “Eyes without a face,” that one song from the soundtrack of the Legend of Billie Jean, “Dancing with myself,” and “Rebel Yell.” It was amazing. I wish I had my camera with me, because there were many great opportunities for great shots of Billy pumping his fist in the air. In my opinion he was the best act of the weekend.
Then came the Pixies, the reason that my brother was so gung ho about going to this festival when his 2nd child was a week from being due. I believe I have seen these guys 5 times within the past calendar year and they were great every single time. This however was probably the worst show that I had seen them play. It wasn’t because they didn’t have it on stage or the set list lacked, in my opinion, it was because the crowd was spotted with a bunch of jerks and weirdos and I just happened to be surrounded by all of them. Before they played this bitch standing next to me grabbed me by the waist and pushed me. She said, “Do you mind moving to the side, you are in my way.” I turned and said, “Yeah, I do, because I am being shoved the people right next to me.” She followed up by giving me a dirty look then saying something to her boring husband who was wearing a “Vote for Pedro” t-shirt, which I don’t think anyone over the age of 25 should be wearing.
Despite the crowd being angry and annoying, the band was great. They played “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Debaser,” “Where’s My Mind,” and “Hey.” It was a great set.
After battling with the crowd for the last two sets, we decided not to even mess with the crowd for Weezer. Instead, we stood from afar and watched them and they still sounded pretty damn good.
Day one fades into the night with a hint of rock on the forecast for tomorrow.
After sweating like a bear for the about 8 hours on Saturday, my brother and I decided to pass on the earlier acts and show up after the peak of the heat hit. In case you didn’t know, it was about 110 degrees on Sunday with the humidity.
We showed up around 5:30 to see America’s favorite French Canadian Indie Rockers, the Arcade Fire. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from these guys; I just wanted to see what the hype was all about. Well, they impressed me. They were solid and were very tight on stage together. This band has about 7 people on stage playing everything form the violin to the goddamn triangle. Yes, that’s right, the goddamn triangle. My thought is that if someone is playing the triangle, you should either say “goddamn” or “fuckin” before mentioning it.
Moving on after the Arcade Fire, we strolled over to the other stage go see another Austin band called Spoon. They are very indie and very popular with the hipsters. Just think of Elvis Costello meets Pavement and you should get a good idea. Pretty good, but we left early to get a spot by the stage where the Killers were playing.
The Killers are probably one of the most popular bands in the world right now and I think I have figured out why. They have this sound that some people are very familiar with and others think is brand new. I guess when you have kids who have never heard a depeche mode or dead or alive album, they might think this sound is groundbreaking, but their parents see it as, I have heard it before and I used to like it, so why can’t I like it again. So, it all just comes together as another family night out.
Anyway, these guys surprised me too. They were really good. The crowd was singing to just about everyone of their songs, but for festivals and bands like this, you have to push that aside and just enjoy what is going on. They played the hits and did a very good job at it.
The last band we got to see was Death Cab for Cutie. I should have gone home. I have seen them before at the Vic and I thought they were ok, a little boring, but ok. Like I said before, I should have gone home because these guys were just boring. Now that I think about it, I don’t think it was their entire fault. They had sound problems and when that happens, you start to lose your feel on the stage and the crowd. On top of it all, you had one of the worst jam bands of all time playing along side of them, Widespread Panic. So on top of having sound problems, they were being drowned out by a bad bad band. It was kind of hard to blame them.
On a whole, I thought that the show was a great success and I hope that it returns next year. From what I read, the reason that this line-up was not as good as other festivals, Coachella, SXSW, Austin City Limits, was because of the lengthy process it is to get a permit in this city. If all goes well and they are approved for next year, they should be able to have a full year of planning and hopefully bring in some better bands for next year.
As for whom I would like to see, here are a few:
Kings of Leon
The Flaming Lips
The Sea and Cake
Anyway, those are just a few. Let me know of any others you think would be a good fit.