Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 Lollapalooza: Sunday (From Miles and Miles Away)

Lollapalooza was this past weekend in Chicago. I heard it was a great time, but I wouldn't know. Well, not really. I was actually 700 miles away in Washington, DC, where this past Sunday it was a typical August day in the District: hot, humid, and feeling like hell. It was in the mid-to-high 90's and may have been the hottest day of the year. After spending the morning on a walk running some errands and braving the hellements, I said screw that, and headed indoors where my air conditioner was working at such a furious pace, it was actually yelling "fuck you" at every Smart Car that drove by.

I knew some of my friends were at Lollapalooza, and I also knew that was video streaming portions of the festival. It was also hot in Chicago, and just because my friends were sweating themselves silly in Grant Park, didn't mean I had to be. I put on an old pair of Umbros (yep), grabbed a lemonade and tuned in. This is what I saw:

The first band I caught was the Airborne Toxic Event. I have never really listened to this crew, and they seemed intriguing (sort of like Interpol only without the sharp looks and deodorant), but what struck me was how great the video feed was. Clear and crisp with great angles of the stage, crowd, and city. That's what I call production. For those wondering where the price of their ticket was going, it was so people like me who didn't buy a ticket could also enjoy the festivities. Thanks! And let me tell you, this is the way to take in a festival. Whenever I got bored with the Airborne Toxic Event, I would check out my fantasy baseball team (currently in 2nd place, no big deal), walk over to my kitchen and make a drink, or just lie down on my bed and take a power nap. This is the life. Oh, and if you think for a second that I wasn't texting my friends and asking them rather mockingly how the weather was at Grant Park, you're crazy.

According to iClips, Dan Deacon would be featured next. This is something I really wanted to see. A lot of people said that his last album was really good, but I could never bring myself to listen to it. Deacon has just always seemed like one of those acts that needs to be seen and heard, and not just heard. (I have made a promise to myself to listen to a Dan Deacon record very soon.) After preparing a bowl of Edy's Double Fudge Brownie ice cream and returning to my computer, it came to my attention that the feed was down. I have no idea what happened, but do know that iClips user korm5421 was not happy about it. He posted about three or four angry messages. (If you scroll through the message board, you'll see that he was complaining nearly every five minutes the entire day.) By the time the feed rebounded, Deacon was onstage with what looked like an entire marching band, and he had somehow commanded the massive crowd to create a large hole near the center of the stage. One guy was in the middle doing some slow dance moves, and the surrounding crowd was mimicking him. Once the music got going, the crowd just erupted and went crazy. People were jumping, crowd surfing, and rioting. It kind of made me wish I was there, but that thinking ended with my next bite of ice cream.

The Kaiser Chiefs were up next. They did not sound well, and I headed to the living room and turned on the television where I was immediately treated to a live concert on HDNet by the Barenaked Ladies. Now seemed as good of time as any to stick my face in the fan. Luckily, I soon found Major League on AMC. Great movie, but boy does it suffer without the curse words.

I faded in and out of sleep and eventually made my way back to my computer for the Cold War Kids. It was at this point where I tried to watch the band and the movie at the same time. I wasn't accomplishing either objective so I turned off the television. As the band was playing "Hospital Beds" I noticed some guy crowd surfing. I know it has been said countless times, but it really does look douchey when someone is crowd surfing at a completely inopportune time. Really, it does. I learned this the hard way at GG Allin's funeral. (Too soon?)

Snoop Dogg was next on the feed. Holla. The crowd looked absolutely enormous, and I don't think I have ever been in a crowd that big. At one point I think I heard Snoop (shockingly) say, "Put your motherfucking hands in the air," but I can't verify this because I was too engulfed in a mesmerizing profile about great white sharks on 60 Minutes. Allegedly, the recent increase in shark attacks on humans might be connected to humans increasingly seeking out great white sharks. Yeah, and Snoop might be high. At the end of Snoop's set (great white sharks trump Snoop, but Andy Rooney does not), he led the crowd in an impressive chorus of "Na na na na/Na na na na/Hey hey hey/Snoop Dogg." Believe me, it sounded much cooler than it reads.

Fuzzy guitar lovin' Silversun Pickups were stuck with the task of following Snoop. Always fun. I wasn't digging them at first, and even found lead singer Brian Aubert to be slightly annoying any time he tried to scream out a note. However, I thought they got stronger as they went on, and by the time they closed with "Lazy Eye," I was really feeling it. That's an incredible single, and they nailed it. (Although I texted my friend Bret who was there right afterwards to express my enjoyment, and he told me that he thought they sucked. Maybe just maybe, watching the festival over a computer in a different time zone doesn't exactly capture the experience.)

The next three hours were just filler for me (Portugal. The Man, STS9, Neko Case), until the day's headliners, Jane's Addiction and the Killers, were set to close out the weekend. The iClipse site was still listing the 11:30 cst timeslot as TBA, so I had no idea who I would get to watch, and rather than just spend the next few hours staring at my computer, I killed a couple of hours and watched Iron Man on Netflix. Cool movie.

One of the reasons I am sort of relieved I wasn't at Lollapalooza is because it would have sucked having to choose between Jane's Addiction and the Killers. I love both. I realized I was a big fan of the Killers right about the same time it was decided that they were no longer cool. Interestingly enough, this same thing happened to me in high school with OJ Simpson. (Too soon?) But speaking of high school, Jane's Addiction, pretty much the namesake of the festival, was one of my favorite bands way back when, and I have never seen them. So I probably would have decided to linger near their stage, but man, it would have been a tough decision. Good thing at home I had iClipse to make the decision for me. Problem is, when the schedule popped up, it said we would be watching Jane's Addiction but only from 11:30 to 11:45. Fifteen minutes? We were given Bat for Lashes for an entire hour, but only get Jane's Addiction for 15 minutes? Oh, well. Also, the schedule was on central standard time, so this meant I had to stay up until 12:30 am. On a work night, no less. No matter, I was going to do it.

I grabbed a book and laid down on my bed to kill the final hour. I was naive, I didn't stand a chance. I think I fell asleep approximately ten minutes later, only to wake up around 2:15 am with all the lights and computer still on, and 3 Nights in August lying on top of me. I got up and turned out the lights, and briefly considered playing a few Jane's Addiction tracks before officially calling it a night, but thought the better of it. Sometimes you just have to be there.


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