Monday, May 26, 2008

NQL Roundtable Discussion on 2008 Lollapalooza

NQL's brass and special guest James Lipton of "Inside the Actor's Studio" met early last week at 1632 N. Jay Bennett Dr. to have a pointed discussion of this year's Lollapalooza.

Alex Crisafulli: Okay, it’s summer, kind of, time to talk about Lollapalooza. Matt is late as usual and our special guest panelist James Lipton was supposed to be here an hour ago and he hasn’t called or anything. I say we start without him.

Anna Deem: Alright, let's go. Did you guys hear about how Perry Farrell was pissed at Jim DeRogatis for leaking the line-up the day before? And DeRo was like "Whatever, fuck you." Funny stuff.

Brian Herrmann: I think James Lipton can go fuck himself. Perry Farrell too. He's better off sticking to spaceships or whatever mystical hoo-ha broke up Jane's Addiction and made him make that terrible movie "The Gift." If you go to Lolla's Flash-heavy website, you'll notice Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks and Dierks Bentley at the very bottom of the lineup, in like 3-point type. I have great eyes, but I had to get right up on the screen to read the last line--and couldn't tell it said "Dierks Bentley" until I saw Gnarls Barkley on the third line. Seriously, what a slap in the face to Stephen Malkmus. Dear Stephen, Your cultural relevance/agency, once nonpareil, is now on the level of Dierks Bentley. Your friend, Lollapalooza. And I'm pretty sure the first line is a misprint--weren't those the headliners for Lolla '98?

Alex: Perry being pissed off at DeRogatis actually extends to the year before when DeRo openly criticized the festival. I like DeRogatis but I do think he was a bit unnecessarily harsh. But yes, him leaking the lineup certainly didn't help things.

Brian: How did it hurt things? Anyone who's going to buy a ticket is still probably going to buy a ticket. The only thing leaking the lineup hurt was Perry's pride. It took away a little bit of his power and control. So do people in Chicago call DeRogatis "DeRo" or is that just round table shorthand? You big city people and your big city ways.

Alex: I think he's called lots of things. Just ask Ryan Adams. Backing up a second, Brian you said something to the affect that the headliners were a bit dated. If you could pick anyone to round out that list to make it better who would it be?

Brian: The Prodigy, Stone Temple Pilots, Tool. I really don't know. I understand having big-name acts as headliners, but the only one that's still relevant (from my perspective anyway) is Radiohead, and, given the other artists, Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails are incongruous at best. I don't know what the kids like these days, and most of the bands I like wouldn't have a mass appeal, so I'd be better off organizing one of the side stages, or the Nike Shoxx Presents the Mr. Peanut Mist Tent.

Alex: Prodigy, Tool....weren't those the headliners for the 97 lolla? The one that pretty much ended the entire thing as we knew it, in terms of traveling to city to city? I believe this to be accurate. I also believe this table we're sitting at to be square and not round. Who's responsible for this!? Someone tell our numbskull interns a round table should not have corners. [Shakes head while muttering "incompetence...everywhere I look."] But more importantly, since lolla morphed into what it is today, a cohesive lineup hasn't exactly been their specialty. But, can you really falut them for that? Is it possible to have a lineup that makes sense when there are 200 bands playing? How cohesive was SXSW? And why does Pitchfork get a pass on this? What's cohesive about Mastadon, Of Montreal, and Tim Tuten? I don’t even know what a cohesive lineup means. I'm going to stop saying the word "cohesive".

Anna: I don't think it matters whether the line-up is cohesive or not. Lolla caters to the people and the people apparently want '90s nostalgia trips and up and coming indie bands. As someone who has been to Coachella for the past few years, I'd say that Lolla definitely kicked their ass in terms of a line-up this year. I'll take Radiohead, Rage, and Nine Inch Nails any day over Jack Fucking Johnson, Portishead, and a bloated Roger Waters doing Dark Side of the Moon.

Alex: Everyone refers to him as Jack “Fucking” Johnson. It’s like he’s the new Bucky Dent.

Brian: I think Jack “Fucking” Johnson has only written one song, and just keeps re-releasing it under a different name each time. Does Lolla cater to the people, or does it respond to what the people seem to be into based on a management agency's perception of popular culture? Idea: a democratic music fest. People vote, and then organizers put together a lineup based on those votes. But the lineup would end up being Rihanna, Soulja Boy, Kelly Clarkson, Staind...

Alex: Hey, let’s get off Jack Johnson. ..I just got off yours! [laughs hysterically]

[Everyone stares at Alex in total silence.]

Alex: Sorry…that was stupid and completely uncalled for. But if Kelly Clarkson was on the bill I'd be the first one in line getting tickets and I'm not kidding. And whatever happened to that Milo Cyrus rumor?

Brian: The one that said she had a sex reassignment operation because of a botched circumcision? I don't know.

Anna: I'm so confused right now. Didn't All Tomorrow's Parties let people vote for one of their festivals in England a few years ago? Or am I making that up?

Brian: Now you are one of us...I don't know. But that just goes to show, there's nothing new under the sun.

[Door opens abruptly and Matt Farra walks in.]

Matt Farra: Lollapalooza? More like Borapalooza!

Alex: Hey, everyone! Our Louisville writer Matt just decided to grace us with his presence and join the discussion. ..late, as always. Hey interns....WE NEED ANOTHER CHAIR, PRONTO! But back on point, what does everyone like about the Lolla lineup? I'll tell you what I like: I think it's cool Kanye and Wilco are headliners even though they've already been there and done that. I like that they have Chicago's royalty headlining the weekend. And I'm also really looking forward to Blues Traveler. If they play "Run Around" I have a coordinated dance to go along with it. Shout-out to Montreat Summer Camp 1995!

Anna: I like that Radiohead is choosing to do Lolla as their Chicago date rather than playing at the Chicago Theatre (or somewhere else), since I'll be able to see them and it's less likely that the show will sell out. I like that Broken Social Scene is off of hiatus and finally touring again. I like that I'll get to relive my high school emo years by watching Brand New play live....I mean, what?

Brian: I like that tickets are reasonably priced. I like that there won't be 40 trillion people there.

Alex: My sarcasm meter just broke off. Anna, you’ve been to lolla before, correct? For the benefit of those who haven’t been, how would you describe the sound? Atmosphere? Food? 30 Seconds to Mars? Accessibility of stages? Bathroom facilities?

Anna: Nah, I didn't go...I've actually never been before. I didn't move to Chicago until August, so I just missed it. I'll definitely be there this year though.

Matt: [pulls out his lap top.] Brian--I can't speak about 2007 Lollapalooza, but I am pretty sure that Flogging "Friggin" Molly was not on the bill. Maybe I shouldn't make light of such an addition, afterall, as noted by "On March 4, 2008 Flogging Molly released Float, an album dubbed "One of the most important CDs of the year, if not the decade" by Alternative Press".

Brian: That doesn't mean shit. This decade is only a few years old, plenty more, more important CDs will be released by decade's end.

Matt: They might not even be making CDs by the end of this decade. One of my friends has a record player (which plays vinyl discs) and then he frames the album covers because he is so "cutting edge". Okay, I am talking about myself. But it I thought it was so cool at the time. Besides, if I can't have a "bar" at my house or a TV hung on my wall--aren't framed albums the next coolest thing? I especially like toting my albums around the house and having to hide them when company comes over because my wife doesn't find them as aesthetically pleasing as I do.

Brian: Relate what you just said to Lollapallooza in five sentences or fewer. Time...begins...nnnnnnow.

Matt: I love how bands sell albums at their concerts, such as the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago for the year 2008. I enjoy watching people buy albums or posters before concerts and then see their hearts and/or dreams smashed as the edges of the album get bent or the poster becomes ripped or turned into a quasi-megaphone. C'mon people, is this your first time at a concert? Wait until the end of the show to buy that shit--or better yet--steal that shit. You already went to the concert, what more can the band want from you? And for the record, black light posters often help intensify your experience at a show, so these words of wisdom do not apply to such items. If these items still exist? I, for one, would really enjoy a Wilco or Bon Iver black light poster.

Brian: I would enjoy a black light poster that's a Rasta smiley face smoking a joint, emblazoned with the word Jammin'. And as long as teenagers to drugs, there will be a market for black lights and black light posters.

Alex: You should hang that right next to your Belushi "College" poster. Gosh, your room sucks, Brian.

Brian: Maybe, but have you ever been in my room....on weed??

Alex: [laughing] Speaking of great cover art, has an album cover ever outshined the actual album as much as Tapes 'n Tapes Walk It Off? I think they should be forced to repackage that record into something much more bland and repetitious. And we've been sitting here for awhile now, anyone up for some pizza? I have $6.

Brian: I like that cover better the first time when it was the cover of Pieces of the People We Love. And the second time when it was that iPod commercial. You know, the one with all those shadow-people dancing. And I have $4.70. That's one large taken care of.

Alex: It also has some Abbey Road elements to it too, no? I bet that nerdy looking drummer with the glasses is the walrus.

Brian: That song is on Magical Mystery Tour.

Alex: Yes, but that was the album cover that spawned the rumors that Paulie McCartney was dead, right? The clues were obvious, by the way. He didn't have any shoes on. Of course he's dead. No one ever gets buried in shoes. And, the walrus was Paul. More importantly, I'm feeling a stuffed spinach from Giordano's. How's that sound? Matt, have anything? Wait, where the hell did Anna go?! I didn’t even see her leave.

Brian: I heard she was out taking care of business somewhere. Just a rumor.

Matt: She's off to Effingham to get ready Myan' mar Cowbell BenefitFestival! Rather easy, I know, but it's a start. Or what about Mission of Burma…relief, that is.

Alex: Matt Farra, ladies and gentlemen. Well, even though I'm starving, we can wait for her to get back. Let's get back on topic. I knew the AARP was a powerful lobby but didn't realize how strong until I saw Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine were headlining. Which leads me to ask the panel a two part question: First, which set would you rather see? And second, if you had to go home and listen to Pretty Hate Machine or Rage's first album which would it be? I'm taking Rage for the first answer but Pretty Hate Machine for #2.

Matt: For the first question, Rage Against the Machine. I don't really think of NIN as a great live act. For the second, Rage’s first album, unless we're talking about going home right after seeing Rage live--then I would probably rather listen to something different, less cable newsish.

Anna: Sorry, got a phone call. That was Effingham on the phone.

Alex: No problem, we were discussing a hypo.

Anna: I heard from the other room. I’ll go with Nine Inch Nails. I saw Rage at Coachella last year and they were a bit too intense for me. Plus, gangbangers in wife beaters screaming "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me" are frightening. And Pretty Hate Machine, probably.

Matt: What are the odds that Barack makes some sort of cameo at Lollapalooza? I wonder what John McCain's bloggin' daughter would do if he showed up?

Brian: He'll come out naked with his mouth taped shut for Rage's set. McCain’s daughter, too. As for the question, Rage, definitely. And I’d rather listen to Rage’s first album, Pretty Hate Machine just isn’t good.

Alex: Pretty Hate Machine not good? You're lucky I'm not 15 and going through a break up with my girlfriend that I had been with for a month and half or I'd leap over this table and strangle you.

Brian: Name more than two good songs on it. 'Sanctified' and 'Ringfinger' are it for me.

Alex: The two you just mentioned. “Head Like a Hole. Terrible Lie. Whatever track 5 was called. The slow song. I think nearly 80% of the ten songs on that album are great. The 15 year old in me going through a rough patch likes 100%.

Brian: Surely you jest.

Alex: I don't jest. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go order the pizza. Let’s take five.

Matt: A stuffed pizza is going to take forever. i told you guys we should have stuck with the dippin' dots.

Anna: Okay, I’m going to have to bow out early and head down to Effingham for the day.

[Five minute break concludes]

Alex: Matt, is anyone from Louisville on the bill?

Matt: I can only assume you mean Lollapalooza, Alex. Are you trying to get me to bite on an Eight Belles joke? You are sick my friend...I refuse to go there. I will take the high horse, saddle up and ride away from that broken attempt of some front-end humor.

Alex: Is that your way of telling me you're looking forward to Broken Ankles Social Scene's set? Thank you, folks, I'l be here all week!

Brian: You’re an idiot.

Matt: Guys, while we've been sitting here, I just got a text message from Daniel Radcliffe. What does "LOL so hard my britches are wet" mean?

Brian: It means Sid Bream beat a Jesse Barfield throw home to score the go-ahead run.

Alex: No, no, no, it means now would be a good time for him to utilize that invisibility cloak of his. I read somewhere that Mr. Radcliffe is a big Hold Steady fan, which leads me to ask, pretending price is not an issue, between the two festivals, which event are you more looking forward to and why?

Matt: [pulling his computer back out] Actually, Danny R. is a huge Art Brut fan. Have a look at this.

Alex: How did Richie Sambora get in that picture? Hopefully, little Danny was the DD that night.

Brian: What festivals are you referring to? Lolla and what else? Your non-specificity is killing me.

Alex: The sweetcorn festival in downstate Chatam, IL. I'm thinking Lollapalooza. I'm looking forward to seeing Kanye take the stage as the sun sets on Grant Park. Though I do love corn. No, you numbskull, I'm talking about Pitchfork Festival! The Hold Steady were recently added to the bill.

Brian: There just wasn't enough info to make the connection between Lolla, Radcliffe, and Hold Steady. Who's the numbskull now, numbskull? The answer is clearly Pitchfork. It's cheaper for one, less crowded for another, and has headliners that I'm actually interested in.

Matt: There goes our pizza being comped. Thanks Brian!

Alex: Well, I did say pretend that price as not an issue, but that aside, I think I'm going to go with Pitchfork as well. It's just so much more manageable and less chaotic.

Brian: You're right, you did, but Pitchfork still wins.

Alex: Brian, would you be against Pitchfork raising the prices $10 per ticket if the money went to hire someone who would actually check all of their articles and headlines for typos?

Brian: Shit yeah. You could hire a half-ass copyeditor for $30k a year.

Matt: Now, turn the page a bit. Given that Spoon is playing Pitchfork, which I am sort of stunned they are returning for--and taking money out of the equation again--do you think there are bands that would prefer to play Pitchfork over Lollapalooza? Although I know they aren't mutually exclusive, it seems that Spoon has a bigger following than Dierks Bentley and could easily have agreed to play Lollapalozza. I guess what I am getting is the following: do you think bands today are embarrassed to play in front of certain audiences or do they all just care about generally getting their music exposed to all different types of people, including the ones who watch The Hills…if that is even how they spell it because I wouldn't know because I don't watch the show....I swear I don't.

Alex: I bet a band that long ago could stop worrying about working another day job would like to play Pitchfork It gives them a certain sort of street-cred amongst all those scrawny and sniveling indie kids.

Matt: All those scrawny and sniveling indie kids…whose parents are corporate representatives for the Lollapalooza sponsors. Boy, what a small world we live in.

Alex: Isn’t it!

Brian: What haters. What cynics. Oh brother.

Alex: I am not hating. I think every band should make as much money as they can. That's why I limited my answer to those bands that are already very financially established. If I was a band ten months removed from selling cd's out of my trunk, you can bet your ass I would choose the Lolla payday over Pitchfork if given the choice.

Brian: But on point, Spoon played Lolla last year, didn't they? I think any professional musician's aim is to get his music exposed to as many people as possible. That's why No Age are at basically every major music festival this summer, and why My Morning Jacket were recently on SNL. I see no reason for embarrassment.

Matt: Hey guys! I just got a question from a Jimmy V., who was logged-on to our NQL chatroom. He writes the following: "I am drunk. Can you come pick me up?"

Brian: Well, that’s not good. But I agree with your point, however. You'd be a fool to turn down on principle any well-paying gig that promises high levels of exposure. You can't even hate on well-established bands like Nine Inch Nails or Rage or Radiohead for playing.

Alex: Can I at least hate on Rage for playing their actual music?

Matt: That's not my point or my question. Gosh! Let me rephase it: If money wasn't an issue, do you think there are bands that would prefer playing Pitchfork over Lollapalooza, even though their exposure would not be as great. I know this doesn't apply to every band, and you can never really ignore money and finances, but I am just curious if some bands would thumb their nose at Perry and Pepsi Cola if given the opportunity?

Brian: Well, you have to figure that a lower-key festival like Pitchfork is easier for artists to deal with than a high-pressure, high-profile gig like Lolla.

Alex: I don't know Matt, your question sucks. But Perry seems to have a pretty good relationship with most artists, I've noticed. And what I do find funny are the bands at Pitchfork who take shots at other festivals and then show up at those festivals. Carl Newman last year went on some tangent about how PFM doesn't screw you, you meaning the fan, and, if I recalll, made some backhanded comment towards lolla, and they had played lolla the previous year. Malkmus did the same thing and he's plaything lolla this year. And, not to change the subject, but I can't believe Lipton never showed up!

Matt: Guys, don't forget that Pitchfork has been known to censor its fans as well. "Puck Fitchfork"--need I say more? [Inside Joke. Members of the roundtable begin laughing and mucking up.] On that note, if Pitchfork Music Festival was around 10 years ago (1998)--what bands do you think would be on the bill? Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided by Voices, Del the Funky Homosapien?

Brian: That was a vendor's censorship. The t-shirt maker. But I agree with your ’98 lineup. And on the side stage, that guy who lives down the hall from Ryan Schreiber and makes four-track recordings in his kitchen.

[Buzzer rings]

Alex, Brian, & Matt: Pizza!

Alex: Okay, now is a good time as any to wrap this up. We hurt some feelings, barely talked Lollapalooza, and pretty much accomplished nothing.

Matt: Just another day at the office.

Brian: Indeed. Let’s eat.


ewf said...

I've been to your room on weed. Remember the 311/marijuana blacklight poster in college? Oh you do? I am only halfway through and I can't believe no one has mentioned this:
That is where you will find me, with some crumpled ass, silly poster.

Anonymous said...

The issue with headliners is that the biggest relevant good bands like My Morning Jacket, the Arcade Fire, and the Raconteurs don't have enough widespread appeal to sell tickets as headliners.
Lollapalooza's strategy of choosing bands that are approaching middle age (Daft Punk, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails) is far better than the alternative of choosing the bands that the "kids" love, bands like Jack F. Johnson, Fallout Boy, Miley Cyrus, James Blunt, Coldplay, and Paramore.

Alex said...

I see your point but kind of disagree. I think the name "Lollapalooza" pretty much sells itself these days; especially in Grant Park. AF and MMJ would pull in tickets just like the others you mentioned.

And to think, all this time I thought her name was "Milo" Cyrus.

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