Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Whole Lotta Lolla

And on the first day, it rained...

On the way to Grant Park, Jon, Dan (who was visiting from Florida) and I stopped to pick up ponchos. Turns out, everyone else had the same idea many hours earlier, so they were sold out. We probably should have planned a little better, but tons of people had already assured me, "It never rains at Lollapalooza."

I can't lie...I was grumpy. I didn't deal well when I came to the realization that I was going to be wet and cold and sticky for the next nine hours. The final straw came when I noticed that I'd forgotten the camera battery at home. I was outta there. Luckily, the three-day wristband allows for re-entry and we live a fairly short walk (about a mile) from the park. I decided that there was no way I was going to miss getting pictures of Depeche Mode, because who knows when I'll get to see them again?

I went home, dried off, changed from jeans into shorts (rookie mistake with the jeans), spent a few minutes of quality time with the cat, put on some more comfortable shoes, grabbed an umbrella and remembered the battery this time around. I was really surprised that they were even allowing umbrellas into the festival, considering their unwieldiness when it's windy and the fact that they would clearly get in the way at a concert, but I suppose it's a good thing they did.
Ever worn glasses in the rain?

And so, Friday began with a drizzle, continued with a slight downpour and ended with the parting of clouds just in time for Depeche Mode. I was alone in the crowd for this one, as Jon, Dan & Nick wanted to check out Kings of Leon first. Fine with me, as it's easier to make your way towards the front if you're only one person. The crowd around me was surprisingly polite and in so many ways the exact opposite of the Flaming Lips experience at Pitchfork.

DM played a good set...I would have liked to see more old stuff in there, but I understand that they have an album to promote. It's not that I dislike their latest work, I just don't know it as well and am obviously not as emotionally connected to it. Regardless of what they played, I thought they sounded great and Dave Gahan was as much of an entertainer as always. I saw them about 10 years ago and I couldn't find any sign (performance-wise) that they'd aged a whole decade, which says a lot.

Jon and Dan had tickets to see the Arctic Monkeys' aftershow (or pre-show, considering they played Lolla on Saturday) at the Metro later that night, so I took the opportunity to head home, clean up, and go to bed somewhat early. I'm glad I did, because I've now been to two Arctic Monkeys' concerts with Jon, neither by choice, and the audience is always 80% dudes, and rowdy dudes at that.

Saturday and Sunday were, in two words, hot and sticky. There were lots of ladies in bathing suits and shirtless men, which made for a sweaty mess when you're standing in the middle of hundreds of them. The lines for the water fountains were longer than the lines for the toilets and on Sunday, they even began giving out water bottles for free around 2-3pm (when the day was at it's scorchingest).

While I forgot the camera battery on Friday and vowed to be more careful next time, I somehow managed to forget my memory card on Saturday. At least we had two cameras, so Jon took his and I was left to roam without one for a while. I spent a lot of Saturday by myself. This may sound sad to some, but I really relish being able to find a little bit of solitude in the middle of all the chaos. As is typical, when I find myself alone at Lollapalooza, I tend to migrate over to the dance stage. I don't know why this is, since in my everyday life I listen to very little dance music, but for some reason I love it live. Talk about sweaty masses...everyone at this stage is jumping and grooving all day long, no matter the temperature. The crowd seems to pulse with the repetitive beats coming from the stage, merging and becoming a sea of glistening bodies, with surfers riding the waves of hands to shore.

If you've never spent time alone at a music festival without a camera, these are the sorts of things you notice and think about. It's poetry, really, and there is no way to capture it in words or images. I say try and check it out for yourself if you get the chance one day. I've been to festivals in England by myself before and it really does change everything about the experience. It's amazing how much more you remember about the day when your focus is more on the event and less on the individuals around you. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy my time with Jon, Dan, Elisa, Nick and anyone else I spoke to on any of the days. On the contrary, I think I was able to enjoy the conversation and company more once I separated myself from it for a while. Everything is better with a little bit of balance, isn't it?

Speaking of Elisa, I spent a good amount of time on Saturday and Sunday with her and I must say it was really really nice to be around someone who is so interested in and knowledgeable about all types of music. She seemed to run into a ton of people she knew as well, which I always find odd in such big crowds (I did hear from one of my co-workers that he saw me there, though, so I guess it's possible even for people like me, who don't know a ton of music lovers in Chicago).

I met up with her after Glasvegas and we got some frozen kefir (Starfruit), which was somewhat flavorless but refreshing and absolutely necessary on such a hot day. She was with me for my favorite moment of the weekend, which I posted last week, and actually took that picture of me with Glasvegas, which makes me smile every time I think about it. They were really nice and I got a kiss on the cheek from James after gushing about how much I adore them and how excited I was to see that they were playing Lolla. I joked with Jon afterwards that the first time we saw them I got a kiss on the hand, and the second time I got a kiss on the cheek, so he better watch out for someone trying to make out with me the next time we see them! I make this promise right here, right now, and you can hold me to it. Every time Glasvegas are playing here (or in any future city I live in), I will go see them. They are that good.

I'm not going to get into details about everyone I saw. That would take far too long and would bore the pants off of me and anyone brave enough to read through all of it. Instead, I will try do Twitter-sized reviews for the major ones:

@Band of Horses: Continuing to play opposite the festival headliners & organizers for 10-15 minutes takes major balls! See you @ Pitchfork next time ;)

@Lou Reed: Causing Band of Horses to go on 20 min late b/c you're a "perfectionist" loses you cool points in my book. Good to see u still kickin', tho.

@The Killers: You sounded better last time I saw you, but your energy made up for it. Too bad the drunkies around me didn't like your stories.

@Perry Farrell: Really? Your "special guest" was your wife? Really? Or was it her obscenely short dress? Cos *that* was actually pretty special...for dudes.

@Ben Folds: I'm sorry I didn't fully enjoy you because of my dreary mood. Next time, I promise!

@Kaiser Chiefs: I heard you were the highlight of the weekend for many. I feel bad now that I was so far back & couldn't see. I'm a hot weather wimp.

@The Hood Internet: Way to blow up the dance stage, guys! Seriously. Local boys represent!

@Tool: I wouldn't say I was ever a fan of you, but you sounded amazing. How is Maynard so soft-spoken with pipes like that?

@Prophit: You were certainly energetic and entertaining, but I liked you more before I found out you were Perry's nephew.

So if for some reason you haven't yet seen my hundreds upon hundreds o' pictures from the weekend, I give you the official Lolla photo roundup (The Facebook sets include some of the ones that are on Flickr, but Flickr doesn't include a lot of the ones that are on Facebook...get it?):
The best news is that we already have tickets for next year thanks to Jon, Dan and the $60 SUPER early bird sale last week. I'm buying a poncho in advance (and maybe an extra camera battery)! See you there?


Camera Crazy said...

I imagine with Jonathan trying to see Eddie Vedder you finally found time to blog? Entertaining as always!

organica design chicago said...

H Alissa,

Stumbled across your site, like it. Esp. your Lolla write-ups. (Not to mention, the Moon review.) If you're interested in reprinting anything, or writing anew to a local webzine, www.chicago6corners.com (also rather blogg-y), let me know.

Sorry I'm writing as a comment, as I'm not sure how to 'text/email' from this setting. I should be more savvy. Feel free to delete if this is too shameless a plug ;-)

My email is on the "about" section of the blog.

Our dual-writeup from Pitchfork 2007 (our last festival coverage - we need more!)

david s. (chicago)